BURNS, Robert




Author Tags: Literary Landmarks

LITERARY LANDMARK: Adjoining the putting green in Beacon Hill Park, Victoria
N 48° 24.764 W 123° 21.882

Perhaps the oldest literary landmark in British Columbia is the uncredited bronze and stone statue unveiled in Beacon Hill Park in November of 1900 in honour of Robbie Burns. Scotsmen of Victoria had initiated a fundraising campaign for a $2,000 memorial statue and fountain in 1897. The result depicts the author of Auld Lang Syne reciting his poem 'Highland Mary' to a Scottish lass. On each side of the statue there is a line from the poem. Among Burn's other best-known poems and songs are Scots Wha Hae, often considered the unofficial national anthem of Scotland as well as A Man's A Man for A' That, To a Louse and To a Mouse. Burns was born on January 25, 1759 and died on July 21, 1796.

There are at least nine statues dedicated to the memory of Burns in Canada. One of these is a nine-foot bronze figure of Burns at the entrance to Stanley Park in Vancouver, erected in 1928. Reputedly the oldest statue in Vancouver, it was commissioned after the formation of the Vancouver Burns Fellowship society in 1924 to encourage the singing of his songs and study of his life. The original executive consisted of (Front row) Rev. Alex. Thomson, James Taylor (Hon. Secretary of Statue Fund), P. McA. Carrick (President), Alex. McRae (Vice-President), and A. Fraser Reid (Hon. Secretary of Fellowship). (Back row) David Murray, John Macdonald and John MacInnes.

After attempts to commission a stature failed to produce a likeness that was deemed suitable, the Burns society opted to purchase a copy of a statue designed by George Lawson in Ayr, Scotland for $5,000. After it was delivered via the Panama Canal, another $2,000 was need for a granite pedestal made in Vancouver by the firm of Patterson and Chandler. It was officially unveiled by Ex-Prime Minister of Britain Ramsay MacDonald who was coincidentally in Vancouver for a vacation. Sue Bigelow has provided an excellent summary of the occasion on AuthentiCITY.

[BCBW 2015]