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September 9, 2005

History in the Streets of Mattawa

Ghosts of times past in Mattawa stand guard on the streets of Mattawa and environs in the form of statues of famous people from local history.  To promote the town, about five years ago the Chamber of Commerce was brainstorming possible projects when a statue of Joe Montferrand better know by the likes of Stompin’ Tom Connors and others as Mufferaw Joe was proposed for Explorer’s Point.  With support from several key players the statue was funded and Peter Cianfriani was appointed to carve it.  Ten 9 foot statues of people who had a strong presence in Mattawa were subsequently proposed and funded for development.  The initial ten statues were completed, and 12 more were approved for funding in 2004. 


All of the statues are now in place including the 17’ Joe Mufferaw statue as reported here recently.  A plaque on each carving gives the name of the carving and a description of the life of the personality has been or will be added nearby.  A self directed walking tour booklet is in preparation so people can read a brief history of each personality as they view each statue. 

The choice of what personalities were chosen from the many from Mattawa’s past was done by committee and by various businesses that paid a fee for the privilege of having one of the statues of their choice at their place of business.   

Peter Cianfriani became ill after starting work on Joe Mufferaw and well know carver Garry Johnston was brought on board for the remainder of the project.  Clermont Duval played a major role along with Garry by designing the statues and modeling and carving the heads that were installed on the statues.  Clermont’s brother Gaetan volunteered many hours of his time overseeing many administrative details.  Of the many helpers Bob Rowlandson in particular made a noteworthy contribution. 

Other financial support came from FedNor, The Town of Mattawa, the Trillium Foundation, The Mattawa Forestry Committee, Tembec, the Chamber of Commerce, and the businesses that acquired each statue.  The project has been so successful that there is talk of further statues. 


Hundreds of board feet of quality pine from Tembec were glued with many gallons of glue.  Clermont Duval worked on his own with the heads and Garry Johnston spent about a month on each statue in his studio.  When finished the statues were stained and moved to the various locations.  One statue went to Bonfield as a part of their First Spike Project and one went to Algonquin North Outfitters at Kiosk Road (Hwy 634) and Hwy 17. 

Some of the statues were of famous explorers and voyageurs who travelled through and stopped at Mattawa going back to the initial white man Etienne Brule and soon followed by Samuel de Champlain.  Many of the statues are generic and represent in general a Voyageur, a Metis, Pioneers (Josephine and Joseph), and a Railroad Worker.  The explorers beside Brule and Champlain were Radisson and Groseilliers, Brebeuf, Radisson, Mackenzie, Jolliette and laVerendry.  Indian Chiefs Antoine Kiwiwisens and Amable du Fond (#52) are represented as is the Roman Catholic Church by Sister St. Alexis the Mother Superior and Founder of the hospital. 

Of the most recent personalities from the many Mattawa has fostered the project includes Grey Owl and Anahareo (Gertrude Bernard) (11) and the well know painter Dordon Dufoe (12). The number after the names indicates full articles I have written on these individuals and which appear on my website www.pastforward.ca.  For more Clermont Duval drawings and photos of carvings check the Mattawa District Chamber of Commerce (MDCOC) website www.mdcoc.com/projects.  For the story of Joe Mufferaw see article 64.  Many towns have fine single historical showpieces, and others have beautiful murals etc. but none come close to the scale of the 23 Mattawa sculptures.  Not only do they recognize these remarkable people and tell people about them but they will undoubtedly bring more people to this beautiful historical community.  

For further production details contact Clermont Duval’s Gallery in Mattawa or Garry Johnston at The Stroke of Genius Art Shop in Callander.

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