A tribute to the past

Pauline Rafferty

With an artist’s keen eye, Armando Barbon steps closer to his masterpiece and brushes away dust particles which only he can see.

It’s this attention to detail that allowed him to capture the essence of one of early Victoria’s most influential men in sculpture form: surgeon and politician Dr. John S. Helmcken.

Barbon’s life-sized bronze statue of the busy family doctor, with medical bag in one hand and a stethoscope around his neck, is so life-like it’s as if Helmcken just stepped off the front porch of his former home in Victoria’s Thunderbird Park to make a house call.

“He’s just heading off to see a patient,” says Barbon, who crafted, donated and unveiled the statue at the Royal B.C. Museum Thursday. “He’s actually in mid-stride.”

The garden party event in the square between Helmcken House and St. Ann’s Schoolhouse coincided with the grand re-opening of the two historic treasures.

For the past 10 months, the historical treasures were closed for $350,000 in renovation work paid for by more than 260 donors.

The project included the installation of a unique, high-tech fire-suppression system – which won’t be visible to visitors but will ensure the facilities are preserved for generations to come.

“We’re preparing it to keep it for the next 100 years,” says Lorne Hammond, curator of history for the Royal B.C. Museum, which operates the two circa-1850s buildings.

“That’s not a sexy thing to raise money for,” he adds. “But it will keep this house safe for the next century. It’s terribly important.”

Along with newly added detailing and artifacts, exhibits in two of B.C.’s oldest buildings now feature interpretation panels to help connect visitors with the past – just as Barbon was able to connect with Helmcken and his legacy. In 1867 he helped negotiate B.C.’s entry into Canada.

“He’s my friend,” Barbon says. “I’ve been thinking of him for a long time.”

Helmcken House and St. Ann’s Schoolhouse are open to the public 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily until Sept. 6. Admission is by donation, or included with museum admission.

emccracken@vicnews.com

 

 

Just Posted

UPDATE: Missing: 12-year-old girl found

Victora police say missing youth has been found and is safe

The blind lead the blind at the Pacific Training Centre

Centre specializes in teaching visually impaired people everyday skills to live an independent life

Fewer Greater Victoria residents collecting EI benefits

The number of local EI recipients dropped by 5.5 per cent from January 2018 to January 2019

Sidney woman hosts charity shabby-chic furniture sale

Upcycled and refurbed furniture sells to benefit the Alzheimer’s Society of BC and Crohn’sColitis Canada

Student Voice: Reynolds ReyBots qualify for Texas-sized Robot championship

ReyBots robot met premier, ‘dodged’ the competition

Protective human chain forms around Victoria mosque for Friday prayer

Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

Wildlife activists slam B.C. business, clubs for ‘wolf-whacking’ contests

Chilcotin Guns, Creston Valley Rod and Gun Club and West Kootenay Outdoorsmen Club under fire

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

Vancouver Island motorists attempted CPR on victim in fatal Highway 4 crash

Collision took place west of Whiskey Creek; man in his 70s died

POLL: When do you think the next major earthquake will hit Vancouver Island?

According to seismologists, Vancouver Island is overdue for a magnitude 7 earthquake.… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of March 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Most Read