On Oct.23, hundreds gathered in the city of Orillia in Canada, to join legendary Canadian singer and songwriter Gordon Lightfoot at an unveiling celebration of a figurative sculpture dedicated to him, called Golden Leaves – A Tribute to Gordon Lightfoot.
The 13-foot bronze piece depicts a young Lightfoot, who is sitting with his legs crossed, playing an acoustic guitar with a massive arch of intricate maple leaves above him. Particularly interesting are the scenes carved on the maple leaves that represent his songs from the album Gord’s Gold.
The sculpture was created by renowned artist, Timothy Schmalz. It was installed at Barnfield Point on the Lightfoot Trail in Orillia’s J.B. Tudhope Memorial Park in honour of Lightfoot who was born in that city.
“The idea was a tapestry or a quilt,” said Schmalz. “The pieces put together make up the Canadian identity. If you take all the Gordon Lightfoot songs and put them together, you will really get a picture of what it’s like to be a Canadian. … The great thing about bronze is you can’t turn the volume down and this sculpture has Lightfoot blaring.”
The piece was originally commissioned by supporter of Canadian culture Christopher Bratty of The Remington Group. The sculpture was then gifted to the City of Orillia by the Rudolph P. Bratty Family Foundation, which supports a number of organizations and charities, focusing on art, culture and community.
Lightfoot was in attendance with his wife, and was joined by Schmalz, Mayor Clarke, Bratty and members of the media, as well as other VIPs.
This is the principal sculpture of a series that will continue along the Lightfoot Trail and other symbolic locations across North America. The unveiling marks the first phase of the project. Accompanying the “Gord’s Gold” central sculpture is a single maple leaf piece depicting the song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”, the first leaf sculpture to grace both the Lightfoot Trail and beyond. The second leaf cast will be unveiled on Nov.10 to mark the 40th anniversary of the shipwreck, and will be permanently installed at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum on White Fish Bay in Michigan, U.S.A.