The statue was created to commemorate the wartime leader who marvelled at the landscapes of southern Alberta, admired the province’s entrepreneurs, supported Alberta’s growing oil industry, and whose inspirational leadership in defence of freedom and democracy was critical to a successful allied victory in the Second World War. The society will fund the creation and installation of the statue and will cover the costs for maintenance. The unveiling is planned for spring 2023.
Churchill enamoured, inspired by southern Alberta
In 1929, following his re-election as member of Parliament for Epping, Churchill embarked on a tour of North America, during which he spent a week in Alberta. Churchill was enamoured by the beauty of southern Alberta and was captivated by a visit to the Rocky Mountains. Churchill, a prolific artist who painted several scenes while in the Rockies, also often later wore the white Stetson that he received in Calgary while painting. His statue will face southwest towards the Rockies to symbolize his admiration for the region.
The statue, at 1.5 times Churchill’s height, was sculpted by Edmonton sculptor Danek Mozdzenski, whose past work includes statues of Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, jazz artist Clarence Horatio Miller, the late Alberta Lt.-Gov. Lois Hole and Alberta suffragist Nellie McClung.
“Winston Churchill was the greatest defender of democracy in the 20th century, and in my view the century’s single greatest leader. There is no single person more responsible for the defeat of fascism and the evils of the Nazi regime in the Second World War than Sir Winston Churchill. He was a gigantic figure, though not perfect. Like every leader, he made mistakes in a life that spanned decades of public service during times of crisis and consequence. Yet he stands almost universally recognized as one of the greatest champions of parliamentary democracy in history.
“He loved Canada, and Canadians love him. Indeed, Calgary is one of the only cities in Canada not to have a Sir Winston Churchill statue, unlike Edmonton, whose citizens proudly named the symbol centre of the city Sir Winston Churchill Square.
“Churchill had a special affection for Alberta. On his 1929 visit to our province, he visited with admiration both the oil wells of Turner Valley and the magnificent mountainscapes of Banff, several of which he depicted in watercolour paintings. He was so attracted to Alberta that he very nearly bought a ranch here.
“I want to thank all of the donors and members of the Calgary Sir Winston Churchill Society for raising the funds for this impressive statue. Churchill would have seen the McDougall School when he visited Calgary in 1929. It is a fitting tribute to one of the greatest champions of parliamentary democracy that he will be memorialized at the seat of Alberta’s government in Calgary, a great city of enterprise.”
“There are multiple reasons to commemorate Sir Winston Churchill beyond just his 1929 visit to southern Alberta and his wartime leadership: Churchill contributed to human flourishing, freedom and progress, including denouncing antisemitism and rebuffing requests for segregated forces by the U.S. military while stationed in Great Britain. He also displayed an early commitment to positive social reforms. Churchill was both a man of his time and ahead of it.”