There’s a sculpture of a mermaid in West Nipissing resting in a municipal garage, but plans are underway to give her a new home soon. Preferably by the water. The mermaid was acquired about a year ago by the Sturgeon Falls Beautification Group. Members named her Marina. Before that, the group had raised funds from the community to purchase another sculpture—Stella the Sturgeon—and as they had some money left over, the group purchased the mermaid as well.
Both sculptures were created by Laval Bouchard, an artist based in Massey. If you’ve driven by the Mohawk Motel along Highway 17 as you enter Massey, you’ve seen his work on display before the building. He creates “beautiful work,” said Gayle Primeau, the founder of the Sturgeon Falls Beautification Group. His sculptures are “absolutely amazing, and his work is all hand made.” She mentioned the intricate work Bouchard did on the mermaid’s scales— “the detail is absolutely gorgeous.”
Stella the Sturgeon has found a permanent home in downtown Sturgeon Falls, at 204 King Street, “the empty lot where we have the market,” explained Primeau. Last week, a resident donated some large pieces of driftwood to add to the Stella sculpture, “and now it’s complete.”
Now that Stella has a home for all to visit, Primeau continues her quest to bring Marina to the public’s eye. Plans are underway, and she’s been working with the municipality to secure a location and have public works help to install the sculpture. As first, the plan was to place it at the fountain downtown, but at the time, the fountain required repair, and the municipality had concerns about the safety of having the sculpture at that site.
Back to the drawing board for Primeau, who continued scouting suitable sites. Now, it looks like everything is a go to have the mermaid installed at Minnehaha Bay. The location is prime, Primeau explained. Close to water (fitting for a mermaid), well-used (which reduces potential vandalism), and the site is popular throughout the warmer months. Once installed, Marina the mermaid will serve “kind of as a beacon welcoming people into the bay.”
Ideally, work to install the mermaid will begin this year, although no concrete dates have been set by the municipality at this time. “It’s in their hands now,” Primeau said, speaking of the municipality, “and I hope it moves along.” However, she understands “sometimes things take time,” with projects like this, but she keeps the faith that Marina will soon be removed from the garage and returned to the sun and water for everyone to see.
David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.