A statue celebrating Windsor's colourful history is closer to reality.
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens and Tourism Windsor-Essex-Pelee Island CEO Gordon Orr provided an update on the Hiram Walker commemorative statue project at the Canadian Club Brand Centre Friday. Conceived during last year's 200th birthday celebration of the Windsor industrialist, the figure is on track to be unveiled in Walkerville in the spring of 2018.
The statue project is in conjunction with not only Canada's 150th birthday this year but also Windsor's 125th birthday. Dilkens says the statue will symbolize the work ethic and the industrial spirit of Windsor.
"This monument will stand forever as a reminder of the collective values about our city, about our people and about all of the progress that happened, much of which started with Hiram Walker," says Dilkens.
The bronze statue, which will feature an 8'3" likeness of Walker standing atop 3 ft barrels, will go up on the southwest corner of Riverside Dr. E and Devonshire, across from the brand centre. The statue is being designed by Mark Williams.
Monetary contributions to the statue project were announced Friday. The Windsor Essex Community Foundation is donating $25,000, as is the Windsor Port Authority. Also contributing to the project is Walkerville Brewery, founded by Hiram Walker in 1890, with $10,000. Canadian Club and parent company Pernod Ricard each donated $5,000.
The American-born Walker produced his first barrel of whiskey in Walkerville in 1859. The mayor reminded everyone that Walker worked to ensure a legacy in the area that still thrives today.
"Walkerville boasted street lights, well-paved roads, a police department, a fire department, a water-pumping station, a school, church and other sorts of amenities that were almost entirely paid for by the profits earned through this business," says Dilkens.
Walkerville was annexed into the city of Windsor in 1935 and is today a trendy neighbourhood of historic homes, restaurants and bars.
The Hiram Walker distillery, according to Orr, was set up on a location that would be ideal for trade.
"Hiram Walker was the first of many businesses that would appreciate the value of Windsor's ideal trade location along the shores of the Detroit River," says Orr.
Anyone interested in contributing to the Hiram Walker statue project should contact the mayor's office.