The Rower sculpture on Quidi Vidi lake

Photo by Elling Lien.

Western edge of Quidi Vidi Lake

When Morgan MacDonald walked around Quidi Vidi Lake in 2004, he decided something was missing. Best known as the site of the city’s historic Regatta, the lake had no icon or symbol of how important the race is to provincial culture.

“I just thought we have this important sporting event, and there was nothing around the lake to commemorate it or give it a place in history,” says MacDonald, a sculptor educated at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College. “I made a concept to show to the city and look for support. Lo and behold, someone saw the vision in it and felt strongly enough to support it.”

That concept was “The Rower”, which now graces the western edge of the lake, and that someone is Elinor Gill Ratcliffe, who split the $300,000 price tag with the City of St. John’s.

The statue was sculpted by MacDonald in New Hamburg, Ontario, and cast in Georgetown, Ontario, between January to July 2005. Cast in bronze, the Rower is an abstract personification of the Regatta Day rower. His racing shell isn’t fully included, but wave-like formations around the base symbolizes the craft’s wake.

MacDonald has completed several other high-profile pieces since “The Rower” including a statue in honour of the arts at the east entrance to George Street, and two bronze plaques inscribed with the names of World War One soldiers from Newfoundland installed in Bowring Park on July 1.

The Rower was unveiled four years ago, but as his first major work, MacDonald says it remains one of his favourite pieces.

“It’s great to have something like that,” says MacDonald. “It’s a symbol of trying to stay true to your goals and persevering when things might be difficult. I hope that people can feel the same way about it, and gather some inspiration from it.”

— Shawn Hayward