FERGUS – Known to some locals as the Breadalbane Giant, a larger than life-sized wood carving officially called the “Defender of Blairgowrie” will be removed after it was deemed “a safety hazard” by Centre Wellington Township.
The piece, located on a municipal boulevard outside the Breadalbane Inn on St. Andrew Street in downtown Fergus, was carved from a Norway maple stump by Sean Kosonic and his father Nick in 2006.
It was completed as a fundraising project to support Groves Memorial Community Hospital.
“It was a proud Scottish bloke for a proud Scottish town,” Kosonic said.
“The massive old maple tree had already been cut, and it looked to us to already have the shape of a figure holding a sword. The inspiration came from a physical and creative place.”
He added, “We did some sketches and passed the idea to the city, and we were off to the races,” Kosonic added.
The sword, along with part of the arm of the statue, was removed as a result of vandalism.
And despite being treated yearly, there was no way to completely preserve the work, as it is a “living” stump.
Breadalbane Inn owner Peter Egger would have liked to see the carving saved and believes the township could have done more.
“We looked at many options of trying to save it,” Egger said in a recent Facebook post.
“If this carving was in Elora there would have been thousands of dollars to refurbish and save the statue.
“In Fergus they post a note on it and tell you they are cutting it down as it’s a danger.”
Centre Wellington spokesperson Kendra Martin said that due to the current state of the stump (the inside is completely rotten and hollow), it is beyond the point of preserving.
“The stump is a safety hazard and is currently on township property. Therefore, no notice was given to surrounding business/residential owners,” Martin said.
“Local business owners and citizens have concerns about the safety of the carving and have contacted the township about them.
“We have a responsibility to manage the risk of the stump and upon further inspection, it has been determined that it needs to be removed.”
Egger recalled raising around $10,000 for Groves hospital and that Nick and his father created the piece for next to nothing.
“They didn’t take much, they got kind of a basic wage but we did pay for that,” Egger said.
“A lot of people thought we didn’t, but we definitely tried to [preserve it].
“We coated it every year, but it’s sitting out there 365 days a year in every kind of weather.”
Kosonic said it’s a shame to see the carving fall apart and more should have been done initially to prevent the onset of rot.
But he acknowledged that would have been difficult, considering it is a tree stump.
“We raised money for the hospital and put the names of all those who donated over $200 on the back of Blairgowerie and called it the shield of honour,” Kosonic said.
“I carved every name in the back by hand.”