Written by James Morrison
posted on July 12, 2010 22:31
Don't look now – But there is a woman watching you!
Unless you are a boater passing Brockville, or a keen observer looking up Court House Avenue from King St., You will likely not notice her. Perhaps you will spot her if you are using the Canadian flag that flutters over her as a weather vane.
She is the blindfolded statuesque Sally Grant, holder of the scales of justice symbolizing the United Counties Court House.
From street level her 11 foot height gives her a 'street size ' look.
Visible from most parts of the city year-round, the trees of summer give her some privacy.
She is, though, a substitute. The original 'Sally' was carved from a single white cedar log by a master carpenter, William Holmes, and erected in 1844 on Brockville’s the first brick Court House. Holmes used his experience as a carver of ships' figureheads to good advantage in bringing her to life!
There she stood until damaged by Hurricane Hazel in the early 1950's. Following a 'Restoration stop' in Ottawa, the original Sally Grant, was restored to her original grandeur, and now can be seen in the Rideau Museum in Westport, Ontario.
To take her place a replica was created by Smith Falls carver, Robert Kerr,and she has since been in her present position since 1982.
Some mystery surrounds her very name. Some say she is named after the woman, who acted as the model. Others give credit to her naming to Paul Glasford, Chairman of the Building Committee for the initial Court House she graced.
A Major Alexander Grant, a Scott, and chief administrator for Upper Canada at the time, stood some six feet 5 inches tall, with a girth to match. Glasford was a diminutive man, somewhat dwarfed by the statue.
According to the York Newspaper (now Toronto) covering the unveiling, the crowd wanted a name.
Grant is quoted as looking Glasford, and asking what his 'child's name was. Glasford, not to be outdone, looked up at Grant, and then to the statue, and spontaneously said “Sally Grant.”
A summary historical review does not definitively identify a woman by that name that would have been known by Glasford, or Holmes, the carver, so the Mona Lisa has her mysterious smile. Sally Grant has the myths of time to shroud her identity.
By James Morrison
James Morrison, a retired school principal, has captained boats on the St. Lawrence, Rideau, and Ottawa, rivers. He received his 'sea legs' with the Royal Canadian Naval Air Arm in the early '60's. He can trace his writing roots to the Brockville Recorder and Times and the Toronto Telegram. He has completed a novel set in the Thousand Islands, which is scheduled for a Fall - 2010 release.