In December 2019, convinced by the merits of our proposal for a national monument dedicated to Franco-Canadian relations, the Beechwood Foundation graciously granted Christophe Raisonnier and André Levesque, the project co-initiators, a parcel of land for its construction.
A fitting site was to be identified within Section 102 of Beechwood Cemetery, providing a catalyst for the Francophone community in Canada to engage in reflection and dialogue. The “Amicitia France-Canada” monument will be erected in a beautiful natural setting providing appropriate space and access for visitors. Upon completion of detailed site inspections, Beechwood confirmed that the future monument would be located in between the two major parts of the National Military Cemetery and set along an existing brick pathway. As shown in the photographs below, the monument will be erected along an existing, lovely stone wall that provides access to a natural pathway located immediately behind the monument. The area shown between the four wooden stakes is where the monument’s foundation will be laid. This location reveals a symbolic anchor on the visible part of the Canadian Shield within Beechwood Cemetery.
Future site of the “Amicitia France-Canada” monument, Section 102 of Beechwood Cemetery.
The Beechwood Cemetery Foundation entrusts “MCM Lettrage Enr.” from St-Léonard (Québec) to undertake all its projects on the property of Beechwood Cemetery. As such, MCM Lettrage Enr. will be building the future Amicitia France-Canada monument on the designated site. The contractor has retained the services of “Rock of Ages” to supply the required granite to be delivered and installed on site. Polycor inc., a Québec-based natural stone producer, acquired Rock of Ages and its major quarries located in Graniteville (Barre), Vermont in 2016. Its Canadian office is located at its Standstead Grey quarry in Beebe (Stanstead), Québec. It is the largest producer of cemetery memorials in both the US and Canada.
The exact material chosen to be supplied is best described by Rock of Ages: “Dark Barre® granite, company owned, is the finest grey, monumental granite quarried in the world. Perfect in every way with a consistent fine grain … has excellent contrast when carved and lettered. This classic granite has been the standard of the memorial industry since 1885, and simply has no peers. Our Dark Barre granite has been carefully selected for its outstanding, deep natural colour and quality as well as for its consistent, fine grained appearance.”
The monument will be about 7.5 metres long with a height, on the central part, of 3 metres. Including its two flag poles to be placed at the monument’s extremities, the site’s total span will be approximately 9 meters in length. The drawings and specifications provided by Rock of Ages and the monument’s design has been approved by the Beechwood Cemetery Foundation as it was deemed to have met their strict architectural and site requirements.
In March 2021, following various exchanges with the monument's builder and project partners, the members of the Board of Directors of “Monument Amicitia France-Canada” association met and confirmed that there were sufficient funds collected and monies promised to move ahead with the project as originally planned. Accordingly, the association ratified the placement of the order for materials necessary for the construction of the monument and the fabrication of the sculptures.
Mr. Jean-Claude Tessier, the monument’s builder, in consultation with the Amicitia association selected renowned Canadian sculptor Jan Stohl from Montréal to carve within the central portion of the monument the effigy of Marianne inserted into a veined maple leaf as well as a sculpture of two forearms, female and male, mutually brandishing a torch. The artist would also produce a smaller bronze facsimile of the Marianne and maple leaf to be used for wreath-laying hooks to be inlaid in the granite. The effigy of Marianne in the maple leaf as well as the sculptures of the two forearms were conceived by the two co-initiators of the project mentioned above.
Originally from Slovakia, Jan Stohl studied at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava and moved to Canada in 1984. He is a contemporary sculptor who has been working in bronze, clay and granite for over 30 years.
The artist’s very first task on hand was to commence preparations for the bronze works required for the wreath-laying hooks. By mid-April 2021, he had created a plaster cast mould to be utilized for the fabrication of the bronze hooks to be delivered at the end of June.
Plaster cast mould used for the production of eight bronze hooks.
Large blocks of granite were cut from the company’s main quarry in Barre, Vermont and delivered for processing and sculpting at their Standstead workshop in Québec.
Depicted in the above photograph is part of the Barre Gray® Quarry in Graniteville, Vermont. Photo: ©Rock of Ages.
Using a diamond saw, the large granite blocks were then cut into slabs according to exact specifications provided by the monument’s constructor. The central pieces to be sculpted by the artist are processed for dimensional cutting and undergo a steel blasting to give it the desired finish.
Photos of the various stages of the sculptural works in progress with a video of the artist doing some burnishing on the figure of Marianne and the maple leaf.
The near completed sculptural works before they are safely stored in wooden crates ready for shipping to their final destination at Beechwood Cemetery.
The foundation for which will accommodate the placement of the monument and its two flag poles will be poured sometime during the month of June or early July. It will need some time to allow for curing and solidification before the monument’s granite pieces are delivered and installed on site. It is worth noting that Rock of Ages has estimated the total weight of the granite monument to be an astonishing 22,464 pounds. This is equivalent to 10,190 kilograms or 10.2 metric tons. It is only a matter of months before this amazing work of art will be officially unveiled for everyone to see, appreciate and come and visit.