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Beautification group hooks onto Stella Sturgeon

Fundraising for sculpture nets $5,000 goal but continues with focus on landing more art for downtown Sturgeon Falls

Stella Sturgeon will be making a splash in Sturgeon Falls next spring.

Gayle Primeau, founder of the Sturgeon Falls Beautification Group on Facebook, said they’ll be having a meeting Monday night to figure out how to transport Stella from Massey, Ontario.

Primeau said the 17-foot metal sculpture created by Laval Bouchard will cost $5,000 and the fundraising campaign hit its initial target to make the purchase late last week, although they’re still accepting donations. Some costs are not known, including the construction of a base and plaque.

If funding allows, additional sculptures could also be purchased or maybe someone local can create something.

“Stella is an extension of the murals,” Primeau said, referring to a number of colourful art projects brightening up the downtown area the past couple of summers. "Also whatever funding we receive that is extra will go to more beautification projects."

The sculpture, welded together from a repurposed propane tank, will be located in the King Street parking lot beside the Tribune, she said.

“It's so cool. It looks like it's swimming, you know, the way it is curved and everything,” she said, noting the rivets make it look authentic in design to the real thing. “I think it's gorgeous.”

Primeau said they still need to come up with a suitable foundation to anchor the rustic-looking creation, which symbolizes how the community got its name. Sturgeon fed a burgeoning commercial fishery on Lake Nipissing at the turn of the 20th century as businesses capitalized on the caviar, flesh, and oil. The fishery couldn’t support the harvest, however, and the stocks were depleted so far that lake sturgeon are now a protected species here.

West Nipissing residents are quick to support anything positive at this time, she said, with the COVID-19 pandemic highlighting the need to work together.

“I think that right now that's what people need, you know, a lot of positivity,” Primeau said. “The murals have been really unbelievable … people look forward to seeing them and whatever was coming up. We had a little guessing game going on I put up on Facebook, ‘Who do you think the artist is?’ or ‘Where do you think it's going?’

“I think that also brings a lot of joy to people. And it brightens up the town … you come in and you see these beautiful murals. So it's a win-win.”

Primeau said the whole idea to do the murals and sculptures came from postcards her father had from a small town in British Columbia. Chemainus B.C, she explained, also had to adapt after its mill closed down and by focussing on make the downtown beautiful it became a must-see tourist stop.

She said any additional donations will be used for similar projects.

“So, it's not like it's done,” Primeau said about the fundraising. “I mean, if people want to continue donating we're going to graciously accept, you know, because then we can put more back into the community, such as any other beautification projects … should be nice to continue to build up the collection.”

Donations can be made in a variety of ways: E-transfer to, with cash and cheques also accepted. Deliver or arrange pick up by contacting Primeau or Ken Perrin through email or Facebook group.

Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with LJI is funded by the Government of Canada.