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Churchill Stirs Controversy in Toronto

Statue of the War Leader is Making the Rounds
Report by John G. Plumpton

Churchill_Statue_TorontoChurchill Paces TorontoOn December 30, 1941, Winston Churchill gave one of his most famous wartime speeches “Some Chicken, Some Neck” to the Canadian Parliament. In his audience was a first-time Member of Parliament, Henry R. Jackman, from Toronto. Inspired by that speech and by Churchill’s further wartime achievements as acknowledged war leader of the British Empire and Commonwealth, Jackman determined to immortalize his hero in his hometown. After the war he became a very successful businessman and the driving force and principal donor of an Oscar Nemon statue of Churchill, which was erected in an honoured place in front of Toronto’s City Hall in 1977.

As time passed, Toronto’s Churchillians realized that many passers-by were unaware of Churchill’s contributions and that memories of his exploits were fading. In 2002 members of the two Toronto Churchill Societies, International Churchill Society of Canada and Churchill Society for the Advancement of Parliamentary Democracy, donated funds to enhance the area around the statue and placed four large attractive plaques with accounts of Churchill, Toronto and Canada, Churchill as World Leader, Churchill Renaissance Man, Churchill and Parliamentary Democracy.

But time continues to march on and eventually plans were developed to revitalize the entire square in front of City Hall. Alas, those plans did not include leaving Sir Winston overlooking busy Queen Street. A new location was proposed for him looking northward along a much quieter street behind City Hall. At a recent ceremony city officials claimed that the new location “will allow the public to have a quiet and more reflective space to appreciate what Churchill meant to all of us” and that the two Churchill societies were consulted about the location.

Not all Toronto Churchillians, including Hal Jackman, Henry Jackman’s son and former lieutenant-governor of Ontario, agree with either the new location or that appropriate consultation occurred.

So the man who was more than controversial during his lifetime continues to stir passions 50 years after his death – at least in Toronto.

If nothing else, the controversy has made more people aware of Churchill and what he meant not just to Toronto, not just to Canada, but to the entire free world. And that is a good thing.Some_ChickenSome Chicken!  Some Neck!

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