St. Stephen – A steering committee has been established to look into the possibility of erecting a statue to honour the contributions made to New Brunswick by explorer and educator, William Francis Ganong.
St. Stephen town council was approached this month for its support in principle, as well as for a donation of land, where the statue could be erected.
Committee member David Ganong, a great nephew of W.F. Ganong, asked the council to consider granting the committee a piece of land along the St. Croix River in front of the Garcelon Civic Center. He also asked for the town to assist in the statue’s installation.
Council expects to deal with a resolution at its next council meeting to approve the project in principle, and declare the land a provincial heritage site.
Ganong said the committee felt a statute “to honour this man, and the work that he did through his lifetime for New Brunswick, would be a very appropriate thing to do.”
Ganong requested the town apply for a heritage site designation for the donated land, which would allow the committee to access initial provincial funding of $5,000, to pave the way for the rest of the work required to move forward with the project.
He said the project committee felt the addition of a bronze statue for W.F. Ganong would add to the beauty of the waterfront, and increase tourism to the region, attracting tourists to the downtown area.
Ganong said it is anticipated the statue will cost between $100,000 and $125,000, and the committee hopes to pay the bulk of that by accessing federal, and provincial, funding programs.
In a submission to council Ganong said W.F. Ganong, who was his great uncle, was born in Saint John, raised in St. Stephen, and was a university professor in the United States. W.F. Ganong was Arthur Ganong’s brother, and Whidden Ganong’s uncle.
For 50 summers W.F. Ganong, who died in 1941, “explored parts of New Brunswick which had not been fully explored from a scientific point of view.”
Ganong said the New Brunswick Museum has “rooms” of his great uncles mementoes, and information, but noted he had not received “much modern recognition.”
He explained the first river W.F. Ganong ever explored was the St. Croix River. “He canoed every river and stream in the province, mapped most of them, measured most of the lakes.”
W.F. Ganong also found Mount Carleton, the highest point in the Atlantic Provinces, and named it after Thomas Carleton, the province’s first lieutenant governor.
Ganong joked that while he would love to have the project finished, and the statue erected by Labour Day, he knew that wasn’t realistic. He said an artist has to be commissioned, and a company which creates the bronze works of art contacted before application can be made for federal funding. “We’re going to push it as quickly as we can.”
The proposed statue would feature W.F. Ganong at work. A picture of him at a northern New Brunswick lake with his surveying and mapping equipment is being used as basis of the statue design.
Ganong said the statue design is “different enough to attract attention, and kind of reflects the explorer side, and scientific side, of the man.”
Two books have been written on W.F. Ganong, one by Nicholas Guitard, and the other by Ron Reese. Both authors are members of the steering committee, along with David Ganong, St. Stephen Mayor Allan MacEachern, Dr. Stephen Clayton from the New Brunswick Museum, former St. Stephen mayor, and historian Allan Gillmor, and Chief Hugh Akagi.
Ganong said Akagi was asked to be on the committee because W.F. Ganong spoke Mi’kmaq and Maliseet and was one of the key people to determine the real native place names in native languages around the province.