Landmarks - Public Art in the Capital Region


Commerce Canoe by Illarion Gallant

Commerce Canoe by Illarion Gallant
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Artwork Description36' long canoe made of raw sparkling aluminum, cradled and suspended in seven green reeds 36' tall; bright red seed pods top the reeds and lie in the canoe.
Artwork StatementThe canoe is a uniquely Canadian icon evoking not only connection with the wilderness but also the history of exploration and commerce in Canada. Canoes have traveled along the shores of Vancouver Island for thousands of years, supporting a commerce that flourished in our natural harbour long before colonization made Bastion Square Victoria's early business centre and linked Britisih Coulmbia with the rest of the world. The Commerce Canoe celebrates this heritage and serves as a beacon to people coming to the City Centre. Though peaceful and classic in impression, the work is dynamic rather than static in the balance of these elements. The light, glistening boat is cantilevered off of the rich green reeds. The reeds will appear to have been pushed aside by the movement of the canoe. This artwork allows the viewer to take the place of the paddler who has laid down his paddle and left the canoe for a moment. It also allows the viewer to be in the water, part of the teeming life and current above which the quiet canoe floats. The interactions between the artwork and the viewer symbolizes a broader dynamic between the strengths and vision of the individual and the will of the collective. This dynaic is what makes commerce work.

About Illarion Gallant

DatesMay 12, 1957 Toronto, ON
Artist BioCurrently principal of Rusnak Gallant Ltd. Design - construction and consultation for private and public landscape and art projects.
Artist Resume1996 Emily Carr Institute of Art and DesignBachelor of Fine Art 1992-1997; Emma Lake Artist's Workshop1983-1988; Emily Carr College of Art and Design Diploma Fine Art, Sculpture; 1985-1986 Staatiche Academy Karlsrule, Germany, Sculpture; 1985 Lindabrunn Stone Symposium, Lindabrunn Austria; 1996 BC Care Awards; 1988 Emily Carr College of Art and Design Merit Award; 1987, 1985, 1984 BC Cultural Fund Senior Scholarship; 1986 Society of Graphic Designers of Canada, Award of Merit.


Artwork TypeSculpture
MediumAluminum, stainless steel, fibreglass, concrete
Unveiled dateNovember 07, 2008
Dimensions36' long x 36' high
Reference #3844
SiteBastion Square - between Government Street and Wharf Street east to west and Yates Street and Fort Street north and south.
Art CategoryCivic Public Art
Selection ProcessCivic: By Jury - Open Competition
Municipality/NeighbourhoodVictoria: Downtown



Type of Artwork