logo

Hébert Page 35b.2

Great Canadian Art & Artists

Sir John A Macdonald: An absolutely wonderful and rare statue of Canadian Prime Minister Sir John A Macdonald by Louis-Philippe Hébert, Canada's finest sculptor. Only once in a lifetime - if you are lucky - will you ever see a copy of this marvellous work, of the man who became Canada's first Prime Minister, in 1867, and was re-elected numerous times before dying in office in 1891.

Great Canadian Artist
Louis-Philippe Hébert

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Sir John A Macdonald - c 1880
Orig. cabinet card - Size - 10 x 13 cm
Found - Grimsby, ON


Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Sir John A Macdonald, by Louis-Philippe Hébert - 1886
Orig. plaster statue - Size - 75 cm, wt 7.3 kg
Found - Cambridge, ON
Signed Philippe Hébert

Louis-Philippe Hébert 2 - 1850-1917

1 2 3 4 5 6

Canadian Vandals & Other Villains

Once again, like all the other Hébert statues, this one bears the personal signature of Philippe It reads:

"Philippe Hébert fecit 14-8-86"

Fecit, is latin for "made," "built," or "created" by.

It is not known how many of these large statues - of Macdonald, Tupper, Laurier - were made, but we know they are rare.


An interesting anecdote, about their rarity, comes from noted Canadian antique author Gerald Stevens (In a Canadian Attic, Early Canadian Glass, Canadian Glass 1825-1925, The Canadian Collector), below, checking out an early piece of Canadian glass. As a teenager he met many of the painters his art-dealer father associated with, in the 1920s and 30s, when he helped him carry frames and paintings from the studios of Horatio Walker, FS Coburn, Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté, James Wilson Morrice, and Maurice Cullen.

Gerald told a former owner of this statue, that his father Frank once told him of an interesting experience, which might give us some insight into why these fabulous plaster statues are rather hard to find nowadays.

Once, when Frank expressed interest in these Hébert plaster statues, with antique dealer friends in Montreal, they apparently laughed and retorted:

"Not those damn things. Hell, we break up every one we can find. They just depress the market for the bronze ones we are trying to sell. That's where the big money is. Those damn plaster cast ones just debase the value of the expensive ones. So if you see another one just smash it up. It's good for business!"

We are pleased that this fabulous statue of John A escaped the culture vandals in Montreal, first by spending most of its life with a heritage appreciator in New Brunswick, and later another one in Ontario.


Gerald (1912-1981) & Bea Stevens (d 1978)

Gerald and Bea Stevens were immersed in preserving information about Canadian antiques all their lives.

Gerald became a top expert on early Canadian glass and wrote a classic book on the subject, which is liberally sprinkled with his recorded interviews with early glass makers, in the 1950s, when they were old men.

It is lavishly illustrated with the valuable glass Canadiana samples which he collected.

Sadly, in his old age, he and Bea had to rely on friends to keep them solvent.

As the book - his final work - neared completion in 1978, his beloved wife, and partner, suddenly fell ill and died.

Gerald never recovered from the shock and passed on in 1981.

Neither had lived to see the book finished, which friends, including Blake McKendry, Ralph Hedlin, and Heidi Redekop, completed to memorialize and preserve both the collection and Gerald's encyclopedic knowledge of early Canadian glass.

All Canadians are indebted to Canadian collectors like these, who devoted themselves to preserving and publicizing Canadian heritage and culture with their own time, money, and effort.

Today it is different. Cultural heritage funds with millions of dollars have been set up to do what Gerald did all his life for the sheer joy of it. And the need, he saw, for preserving elements of Canadian heritage before they were irretrievably lost - forever. No Government cultural funds rewarded him for his time, effort, or expenses.

Today, sadly, most of these public funds - for books, television, music, the Arts - go into the pockets of greedy businessmen and lawyers who have managed to have funding access legislation cleverly crafted so that the money flow is to them, not the dedicated amateurs like Gerald Stevens - that is the people with talent, and knowledge, instead of those with pull...

Were he alive today, Gerald would still be the proverbial starving artist! The only change is that, now, thanks to cultural funding, no doubt a businessman would come knocking on his door with an indecent proposal...

Cultural vandalism is rampant to this day, in Montreal. In the last couple of years, dozens of Louis-Philippe Hébert's bronze and stone busts, statues, and medallions, which he carved for the tombs of wealthy Montrealers, have been cut, sawn, and hacked off the memorials erected over their graves, probably at night.

They end up - where else - in the private collections in the mansions of the only people who can afford them
- the rich: in Westmount, the Glebe, Rosedale, and Forest Hill...

Great Canadian Insight

The root belief, among the "special interests" that governed countries, then and now, that gave rise to "fly-in royalty," was that the locals were too inferior, not even worthy of the royal couch, let alone to hold the reins of state, and direct the destiny of nations and Empires.

For example, the husband of Queen Victoria was shipped in from Germany - too many Englishmen were gay, but then you knew that; the future Queen Alexandra of England was imported from Denmark; both last Tzarinas, were foreign imports - "Enough is enough!" said Lenin - Maria Feodorovna, from Denmark, for Alexander III, and for Nicholas II, Alexandra Feodorovna, brought in to serve her master from Germany, as Princess Alice, the belief being that no Russian woman could be found who was worth impregnating by his Majesty.

Crown Prince Rudolph, of Austria-Hungary, who found something in Maria Vetsera - a lowly commoner - of uncommon interest, did the only decent thing a royalist, who strayed from the governing credo could do. He shot her - in bed - then himself, to root out the genetic aberration. Royalists everywhere - including, presumably, the Ignatieffs in Russia - heartily applauded. After all it was the proper thing to do to maintain the purity of the bloodline... and safeguard the right to govern in the proper hands...

Sad to say, the practice of "fly-in" royalty was not stamped out efficiently enough by the Bolsheviks; but has reared its ugly head, again, in - of all places - Canada!

Here, Michael Ignatieff, whose main claim to fame is his genetic pedigree to a Count in the disgraced Russian court, was literally "flown in" - the historical precedents must have amused him as sat in First Class, looking down on Canada, way beneath him - from Boston, the belief, among the corporate bagmen that govern Canada being, that while no suitable Canadian could be found who had the stomach for waging war against Afghans, Iraquis, Lebanese, and Iranians - make that any Muslim Arab man, woman, and child you can get into your bomb sights - the thoroughly Americanized "Count Me In" Ignatieff, was up to the task. And so - as he points out with every utterance - he surely is...

Living some forty years in Bushite America can do that to people who once were decent. Well, what Canadians consider decent anyway; we can't speak for Americans. Though Count Icky can; he's lived there almost all his adult life! It's no wonder, then, that people say when he talks - especially on foreign policy and human rights - he even sounds like an American! They're really wrong on that; what they mean to say is that he sounds like a Republican, and a right wing one at that...

Now destined to become Canada's next prime Minister; we've had "flown in" our very own Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Jack Cafferty, Bill O'Reilly, Christopher Hitchens... all rolled into one "purebred American omelette." Which is at least as healthy for the Canadian body politic as "poutine" with a side order of gravy please.

Since he's apparently very "sensitive" to women, we'll thrown in a big dash of Anne Coulter as well. Making him, according to the corporate bagmen who arrange these things, the perfect Canadian Prime Minister.

Gives rise to wishful thinking, among real democrats, for a bagman of a different kind... Where is a Prince Yusupov and his sack when we need him?

But you've got to hand it to Count Icky; he's hanging in and putting up with all the indignity entailed - for a man of his pedigree - by a bogus leadership circus that is being put on by the corporate bagmen to make it look like - the ultimate howler - he's in a race that he could lose...

The Russian Count knows - as does virtually everyone with an independent brain, free of the media sedatives that lull the electorate asleep - that he has had the Prime Ministership in the bag since the day he was flown in across the border in 2005...

(Talk about asleep at the switch; Jeffrey Simpson - posing as the Globe & Mail's National Affairs Columnist - didn't figure this out till the first week in September, 2006 - a year after virtually every thinking Canadian clearly saw the plot unfolding - when he then penned a column - surely the ultimate howler - that the Press had now anointed the Count as the favourite and a shoo-in... Hello! Jeff! Anybody home! The "paper trail" on this has been crystal clear for the past year, to any high school student reading the coverage on the candidates in Canada's three leading newspapers. Clearly Jeff just woke up, and doesn't know much about how Canada is governed. Is he just as thick as he appears in print, or just too well paid to look the other way...)

Like for Prince Albert, for Princess Alexandra, for Princess Sophie, for Princess Alice, it was a done deal, from the beginning, for Crown Prince Icky.

The hard part of the setup was how do you con the plebes, into accepting a bagmen coronation. Let's see now... How about a leadership race? We can put on the pressure to prevent the real heavy hitter contenders from not even entering the race... That's the easy part; the hard part is worrying if the Count would put up with the indignity of the circus the bagmen were laying on... to make the coronation look - for the majority of Canadians - well... democratic...

There has been a momentary diversion in events since this was penned, when democratic forces, unexpectedly rallied - how dare they? - against the Liberal Party bagmen and their corporate operatives.

Not to worry; behind the scenes they are in full swing to crown the Count within a year or less, by always dumping on, and finally dumping altogether, the democratic choice with a palace coup that will not be denied. The Count will rule and reign in Canada.

Louis-Philippe & Garibaldi

As a young man, Philippe Hébert, a staunch Roman Catholic, set out to help the Pope in his futile fight against Garibaldi and his Thousand.

Giuseppe Garibaldi right - the Lion of Caprera - is the second most famous person associated with the Island of Sardinia, in the Mediterranean Sea - the other was Napoleon. They were connected in other ways.

Napoleon had tried to unify most of Europe under his rule, hoping to sweep away the ancient royal houses of Europe and replace antiquated, retrograde political systems like that in Russia, run by people like the Ignatieffs, who believed that political systems were best run by people with proper genetic pedigrees. They were, therefore, by extension, ill suited genetically, to function properly in a democracy.

These genetically superior royalists were literally, mostly opportunistic outsiders who were "flown in" to rule the locals because of some medieval self-serving right based on possessing inherited privilege. These folks actually saw merit as an impediment that needlessly shackled the lower orders.

That's why Napoleon and Garibaldi loathed the genetically superior Royalists... They would not have liked Michael Ignatieff much either...

Though Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo, and the royalists returned, he had done his job - people throughout Europe had been infected with the French ideas of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. Intellectuals hoped to set up a new world order based on fellowship among men and women who shared national identities, like Italians, Hungarians, Germans.

Unfortunately these national groups were all divided up amid many parcels of land, ruled by self-indulgent, petty tyrants, and Princes of This and That, aided and abetted by Counts of These and Those.

Agitation for political change, from princely states - ruled by dissolute blue-bloods - to nation states - run by citizens with merit - began in coffee shops, then spilled out on to the streets, becoming public demonstrations demanding reform, and a move to states based on national excellence, not private bedroom antics.

Naturally, the royalists - like the Ignatieffs in Russia - did not think this was a good idea; they believed they knew best, and they alone, had the right stuff to rule a nation of obviously unqualified commoners.

This democratic chant swept through France, Germany, Italy, and elsewhere, in the decades after Napoleon's defeat in 1815. Garibaldi was one of those who thought that the petty princes - including the Pope who owned and ruled vast sections of central Italy - were only dividing Italians from each other, and had to go, so that ethnic Italians could live in blissful union under one constitutionally restrained Italian ruler.

The Italian struggle for union (the Risorgimento) attracted Italian sympathizers to his army and Garibaldi's Thousand invaded Sicily, then crossed to the mainland and marched up the boot to Rome, displacing and scattering petty Italian princes in their wake. His next target: the Pope himself. But the Pope eluded him as he was protected by French troops.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Pitcher, Giuseppe Garibaldi, c 1870
Orig. pitcher - Size - 21 cm
Found - Kingston, ON


In 1860 Garibaldi handed over Sicily and southern Italy to Victor Emmanuel II, turning this previous local King of Sardinia, into the first - constitutionally restrained - King of an - admittedly incomplete - Nation State of Italy.

Garibaldi became an enormous international hero: London closed down for three days to do him homage; President Lincoln offered him command of an entire Union Army to fight the South in the Civil War. But Garibaldi saw himself merely as the humble servant of his people in their time of need - sort of like Michael Ignatieff...

(But then Garibaldi was one of those people periodically thrown up by a popular clamour for historic change; Michael Ignatieff was just thrown up...)

The Papal States, lying across central Italy, and directed by an angry Pope, protected by France's Catholic bayonets, and an army containing Philippe Hébert, blocked the road literally and figuratively, to complete national unity.

Thanks to the parallel drive for German Unification, Italy became unified by default in 1870, when Germany attacked France to capture German provinces it occupied. France called its soldiers home and Italian troops gleefully entered Rome.

Henceforth, the Pope ceased being a secular prince, as the Papal States became part of Italy. The even more angry Pope was now restricted to religious ceremonies behind the walls of the Vatican.

Philippe Hébert had been one of hundreds of loyal Catholics - more than a few from Quebec - who, hearing that Garibaldi was threatening the very existence of the Pope and the Catholic Church, swarmed into the Vatican to help oppose Garibaldi's heathen hordes by feat of Catholic arms.

Alas, Philippe failed in his work as a soldier, but he had taken a peek into St. Peter's and was... transformed... And so was sculpture in Canada.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure The Duke of Wellington, of course, has chief claim to fame for putting an end to the march of Napoleon's armies, and the spread - though only momentarily - of their dangerous democratic ideals, and of putting the royalists back on the thrones of Europe.

The soldiers who accompanied him, and brought Old Boney down at Waterloo, in 1815, now with the villain gone, had put themselves out of work.

So dismissed officers and men from the British armies, came to Canada and became leading settlers in southern Ontario after 1815 and transformed settlement patterns and the architecture of the region.

One of them probably owned these bookends as a reminder of a commander who had provided the highlight in their lives. In his honour they named countless streets, towns, parks, and ships including: Wellington, Arthur, Wellesley, Waterloo, Duke, etc.


Book Ends, Duke of Wellington, c 1850
Orig. brass - Size - 21 cm
Found - Milton, ON
theCanadaSite.com
Copyright Goldi Productions Ltd. - 1996, 1999, 2005

Sir John A Macdonald: Black Like Me

We were astonished to find this Philippe Hébert creation at a Kingston, Ontario auction - only the second we've seen in many years of vigorous auction going.

Kingston was the town where Sir John A began his career as a young lawyer, and launched his political career. His various houses are still there, as is the burial plot, were a sorrowing nation laid him to rest in 1891, at the edge of town in Cataraqui.

Unfortunately, this statue had a bad encounter with an owner, as so often happens with valuable historical memorabilia items. In this case, he told a local painter, some time ago, to spruce it up a bit, to get rid of the shabby bits. Apparently that was about the only instruction he gave.

The sad result is seen left - John A suddenly discovered his black roots! Needless to say the collector was not pleased, at all, at the colour black that was used to paint Sir John A's head, neck, and hands.

Can one remove paint from a porous plaster figure, without causing even more damage to the original patina? Or should one just leave it alone? Consulting a professional conservator - don't you ask a painter friend too! - probably from a leading museum, is really the only course left. So restoration becomes an expensive business, especially when added to the initial buying cost.

Still Kingston is mad about John A, and the bidding went high, and Sir John, black face and all, remained in his home town, which is as it should be.

Perhaps the black Sir John went to someone who collects Black Americana; perhaps they thought it might be Uncle Tom holding his freedom papers... Stranger things have happened.

It is very likely all these Philippe Hébert statues were originally issued as white, to mimic the popular parian ware of the time.

People then were inclined to paint them the various shades we have shown on these pages.

Original paint, such as on Laurier, Tupper, and Macdonald, top, can look attractive. The problem is when modern artists repaint, wholesale, a statue that's really supposed to be 100 years old and, instead, now looks like it came from that horrid Royal Doulton figure shop last week!

It certainly devalues the worth of the original antique.

To antique collectors, even shabby original paint is preferable, on a bust or statue, to a modern repaint done the John A way.

Great Canadian Insight - Macdonald Drunk or Ignatieff Sober?

Anecdotes about the heavy drinking Prime Minister still abound in the folklore of the town of Kingston. Overheard at the auction, "My grandmother used to tell me that she heard stories of Sir John A, down where the British American Hotel used to be, where the new hotel is now, leaning against the wall, dead drunk, retching his guts out!"

Great Canadian Insight

Coming Soon... at the end of this page

Why Michael Ignatieff had in common with John A

No Canadian woman has what it takes...

ABC - Anyone But a Canadian!

Agnes was so British that when John A died she moved back to Britain where her roots and heart were. Hopefully Michael Ignatieff will head back to Russia or the US.

What many people don't realize is that heavy drinking, by many citizens, was a great affliction across the entire population, in pioneer Canada, and did cloud the life of many women like that of John A's second wife Agnes right.

At barn-raisings, whiskey was handed out in buckets; more than one worker fell to his death off the beams, or was killed in a fight attending the festivities.

The celebrated Donnelly feud, in the 1880s, near Lucan, Ontario, which ultimately saw an entire family butchered by ruthless citizens, started, originally, over a brawl - no doubt lubricated by whiskey - which led to a killing during a communal forest clearing.

It was also not rare - in the aftermath of an all night drunk, in a remote cabin - to end up having babies exposed to the brutal cold of a Canadian winter, when their blankets were pulled off by tossing, semi-comatose adults, and being found frozen to death, when the parents sobered up later in the morning...

Even today, Canada is so large, empty, and so remote from anything passing for civilization, that many people, historically, have drunk more than they should, or - like Michael Ignatieff - early on realizing the awfulness of this kind of existence, moved to the US, to get away from the misery of it all.

Canada, admittedly, is so cold, culturally vacuous, and so full of uninteresting people, that no one in their right mind would do serious time up here. Just ask one who voted with his feet, in the 1960s - Michael Ignatieff - who chose to spend virtually his entire adult life about as far from Canada as was humanly possible, and only turned up recently - after an absence of almost 40 years - mildly curious, to see if anything had improved here since he left this rural backwater to do serious time elsewhere.

But, oh yes, he felt qualified to accept the Prime Ministership of Canada, for which he had been anointed by the corporate bagmen for the special interests which govern Canada.

Michael Ignatieff's ABCs: Mr. Ignatieff, some claim, is very smart; certainly, more than most, the American Professor apparently knows his ABC's - with a vengeance - as his life history makes clear...