Garden of Sculptures in Saint Boniface

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Garden of Sculptures in Saint Boniface

Jardin de Sculptures, a peaceful park with sculptures along its paths, located in the French Quarter of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

La Maison des artistes is an artist centre of contemporary art that works with the francophone community in Manitoba and the French-speaking community at large. It is located in the building which was the St. Boniface City Hall for 70 years prior to amalgamation with the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1972. The three-storey red brick building was designed by architect Victor Horwood and built in 1905-1906. There were offices on the main floor, Council chambers on the second, and residences for the Chief of Police and his Assistant on the third. The courtroom and 11 jail cells (two for women, nine for men) were located in the basement. Today, in addition to La Maison des artistes, the building also houses the Riel Tourism Board, which offers information for attractions and events throughout St. Boniface and French Manitoba.

Jardin de Sculptures opened in the lot adjacent to the building in 2008. The garden contains a number of sculptures situated among greenery along wide walking paths.

Garden of Sculptures in Saint Boniface: Volte sculpture by Marcel Gosselin in front of old St Boniface City Hall
Volte column structure in front of old St Boniface City Hall

In front of the building is the sculpture Volte by Marcel Gosselin. A Google search for translations for the word “volte” gave me answers such as “make a u-turn” and “turnabout or reversal of opinion or policy.” In the context of this sculpture, it might mean “to go in circles”. The sculpture is meant to signify the circle of life and the importance of families, with each generation building upon the prior.

Garden of Sculptures in Saint Boniface: Monument sculpture by Michel de Broinin Jardin de Sculptures

The granite sculpture Monument by Michel de Broin was commissioned by the Winnipeg Arts Council in collaboration with La Maison des artistes for the newly constructed garden. It was unveiled in 2009. Michel de Broin is an artist of international acclaim who does innovative work. When he first visited the newly created garden, he was surprised by how formally it was laid out. The newly planted cedar trees were wrapped in burlap to protect them during the winter. Those burlap-wrapped trees, the draping of snow in the winter, and the statues at the nearby St. Boniface Cemetery inspired the piece. He called it, ” a decidedly contemporary spin to a classic motif.” The figures are concealed and anonymous. They remain a mystery.

The staff at Winnipeg Arts Council seem to love the story of the unveiling of this statue. I’ve heard it told at a couple of public art events I’ve attended. The sculpture was draped in red velvet. When the big moment of unveiling occurred, the red velvet was pulled away, only to reveal a set of draped figures.

Garden of Sculptures in Saint Boniface: Entre Chien et Loup by Joseph Fafard
Entre Chien et Loup

Entre Chien et Loup by Joseph Fafard resembles something between a wolf and a dog. All kinds of shapes can be found in the cut-out spaces – a church steeple, a man’s face, angels, birds, tree branches.

Garden of Sculptures in Saint Boniface: La Promise by Madeleine Vrignon
La Promise

La Promise by Madeleine Vrignon examines the conflicted relationship of women with traditional marriage. Information on the La Maison des artistes website says, “A sign of purity, the wedding dress symbolizes the transition to a new life where spirituality and sexuality will try to anchor.” When I look at the sculpture, the unattached hands reaching upward gives a sense of freedom and possibility and the bodice speaks of sensuality, while the wide skirt seems to ground and maybe even confine. You cannot see it in this photo, but the back of the skirt is teethered to the ground. Is it security or bondage?

Garden of Sculptures in Saint Boniface: Curositês by Francis Montillaud

Curositês by Francis Montillaud is an allegorical scene reflecting on human nature. “Between vice and virtue, curiosity gives rise to a situation in which wonder, harmony, pride and suffering coexist.” The expressions of the children in the sculpture pieces are vivid and wonderful.

Garden of Sculptures in Saint Boniface: Curositês by Francis Montillaud

Garden of Sculptures in Saint Boniface: Curositês by Francis Montillaud

Jardin de Sculptures is a peaceful little garden. More permanent sculptures are planned. There is also space for temporary installations. To me, the feel of the garden changes a bit depending on the season and time of day.

Garden of Sculptures in Saint Boniface: Curositês by Francis Montillaud
Curositês becoming a silhouette on a winter evening

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Jardin de Sculptures, a garden of sculptures, located in the French Quarter of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada is a small peaceful park with paths winding past interesting works of art

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  1. Interesting stuff. I especially liked La Promise and your description of the meaning of the sculpture. It looks like a body with pieces missing, like head and shoulders. That could well fit into the idea of the impact of the roles of traditional marriage.

    1. Michele, I too think Monument is beautiful. It appears simple at first, but it pulls you in somehow.

  2. I’d love to take a stroll through St. Boniface and the garden of sculptures. What wonderful and interesting art. La Promise is quite thought-provoking. I’m really getting to see that Winnipeg has so much to offer. Quite an underrated city, I think.

    1. Cathy, I think Winnipeg has a lot to offer. It has been underrated for quite a while, although it is getting more recognition lately. I also think there are a lot of places like Winnipeg with much to offer but don’t get the attention of the more well-known locations.

  3. The sculptures in this wonderful garden are fascinating. I love that you have told the story behind them as well. I had a little laugh when you described the unveiling of the Monument!

  4. Some very interesting sculpture here. La Promise to me examines the conflicted woman, period, where all the garments are shown but the actual body is nowhere. Monument, on the other hand, to me signifies that every monument is draped and revealed only to each person according to his unique worldview. Some interesting pieces indeed!

  5. What a great garden with wonderful sculptures. I liked each one more than the previous one and then all over again. The children are fantastic. I like Ken’s comment on the wedding dress. Just marvelous.

    1. Cindy, if you make it here you’ll have to let me know. It would be nice to meet and I’d have a lot of ideas of things for you to see and do.

  6. Outdoor sculpture gardens are such a lovely way to spend some time and what a diverse collection they have in St. Boniface. I particularly like Entre Chien et Loup. So colorful and creative.

    1. Alison, this garden does have a diverse collection. I will be watching to see what they add to it.