Sunday, May 1, 2011

Kitten Protection: Giant Mosaic Beaver

For the past 31 years, a giant concrete and ceramic beaver has loomed over a park in Regina, Saskatchewan. Harsh winters have cracked the tiles from its nose, but its eyes retain a soft, friendly glow.

On a recent afternoon, the beaver's bulk provided shelter for a small orange cat, who circled the statue as I approached, keeping me in sight and the large mosaic between us. Perhaps the beaver's ceramic base was warm in the late afternoon sun, but it seemed as if the tiny creature recognized a kindness in the big stone creature, and was seeking its actual protection more than just a hiding place or heat.

mosaic statue of giant beaver, with orange kitten, Regina, SK
Kitten and friend   © SB 

This sculpture in Regina's Les Sherman Park, beside the parking lot for the Neil Balkwill Centre, was created in 1980 as part of a West Central Canada Day project in conjunction with the Connaught Library. 

Students made its ceramic tiles, and decorated each with their names, flowers and other designs, and also personal messages ("winter, spring, summer or fall - I love Canada best of all"). I'm told by one Regina resident that this was a huge (great, big, exciting!!!) project at the time, but I can't find any information about it online. (Yes, I do remember how to research from pre-Internet times, and will look...)  

I wonder where Linda, Peter, Alastair, Sashawnee and the others are now? Do they still love Canada best of all? Do they remember helping to build this giant mosaic beaver? Was that a huge event in their lives, or just another after-school crafts project?  (If anyone has information about this, please let me know.) 

close-up of mosaic tiles
Close-up of ceramic tiles made by
Linda, Peter, Alastair, Sashawnee and others 

The plaque beside the beaver also says that the work of building it was done by volunteers, under the supervision of Ken Tollefson. (Again, he's not turning up on my Google searches; if anyone knows who this artist was, I'd be interested. Did he make other public art?) 

Information plaque for statue, built in 1980
From the marker in the park. 

To be continued... Perhaps... 


  1. Some long-term Cathedral area people/artists might know more about this. You could check with the Cathedral Village Arts Festival visual coordinator or the event coordinator (check the "about us" link at the Festival website.)

  2. Did you manage to find anything more about Ken Tollefson? If not, I *may* be able to help.

  3. No, I haven't -- and I'm still very interested in this project. Could you e-mail me? (It's on my contact info in the profile link.)

  4. Gosh this brings back memories. I saw this sculpture so many times as a child while attending arts and crafts things at Neil Balkwill. Somehow I could never find it again (because how one supposed to remember a name like Balkwill!?) But there it is, a little worse for the wear, but much as I remember.

    It really WAS as huge as I remembered it. Hah!

    Thanks so much for posting this. I wouldn't have found it again otherwise!


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