A bronze sculpture commemorating Ted Hole was forcefully removed from its base in a St. Albert park and is now missing.
“Obviously it's a sad thing when these things get vandalized or stolen. I guess that's just the reality,” said Jim Hole, Ted’s son.
On Nov. 1, the city confirmed that one of the three Ploughshare sculptures had gone missing from its location in Ted Hole Park.
The missing piece, A Place to Grow, was the first in the trilogy and described the year 1952 when Ted and his wife Lois, “stood together for the first time on this gently sloping hillside the place that would become their home ... .”
Hole said the written description was a really nice tribute and, with the ploughshare, it made so much sense.
“It did really reflect his first early times on the farm,” he said.
Mike Johnson has lived in the Erin Ridge neighbourhood for around eight years. He takes his dog for daily walks in Ted Hole Park. Last week, around lunchtime, he saw an individual in all black taking what he described as many photos of the sculptures and possibly even measurements.
“They started off at that one over there,” he said pointing to the third sculpture, “I came around — I do a loop and then back — and I saw them at this one.”
He said he was curious but decided to "mind his own business."
“That would make me a little suspicious that all of a sudden this one’s gone and there was somebody that was photographing them and looking at them pretty closely last week,” he said.
Initially, on Oct. 29 there was an internal inquiry at the city into whether the piece had gone in for maintained work, but it was soon determined that was not the case.
Elizabeth Wilkie, director of community services for the City of St. Albert, said in an email, the sculpture went missing sometime in the week before Nov. 1.
Wilkie said the city will be looking at ways to further secure the remaining pieces and a conservator will be examining them and making recommendations.
“Depending on those recommendations, the two remaining pieces may be temporarily removed while those changes are implemented,” she said.
The Ploughshare sculptures are commemorative art pieces made by Gerry Nason. The pieces were commissioned in 2007, at a cost of $41,000, to celebrate Ted Hole and the agricultural legacy his family left in St. Albert. Each piece of the Ploughshare trilogy shows a key period in Ted Hole’s life.
In 2016 the pieces were estimated to be worth $15,000 each.
Wilkie said the city is in discussions with its insurer about replacing the missing sculpture and will be discussing the path forward with the arts development advisory committee to determine the next steps.
“But no decisions have been made at this time,” said Wilkie.
Hole said his dad was not an angry guy and although he would have been disappointed, he would have also been sad people would feel the need to do something like that.
Hole is hopeful the city will be able to figure out how to get a replacement for the missing sculpture.
“It's really looking pretty sad here with just the bolts popped up through the rock."
The sculpture wasn’t the only bronze item stolen last week.
On Nov. 4, the Edmonton Firefighters Memorial Society sent out a social media plea, requesting the community’s help in locating five missing bronze plaques from the Edmonton Firefighters Memorial Plaza in Old Strathcona.
This is the second time an Edmonton Firefighters Memorial has been vandalized and plaques have been stolen, stated a post on the firefighters' Facebook page.
On July 24, four bronze plaques were removed from the bell tower at the Old Strathcona plaza.
“This is an important memorial for not only our fellow firefighters, but the families of those whose names are on the bell tower.
“We would just like to let those responsible know that they cannot sell the plaques for scrap without the owners' permission,” stated the Facebook post.