Elm tree lives on at Grand Pré

Wendy Elliott
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Kings County Advertiser/Register

Sculptor Monette Léger of Shediac, N.B. was Acadian artist in residence at Grand Pré National Historic Site last month.

A multifaceted artist working in a variety of media, Léger was excited to design a work using wood from a landmark elm tree from Horton Landing.

The long dead tree, which stood near the French Cross, toppled in a storm last November. Parks Canada staff retrieved sections of the trunk from the banks of the Gaspereau River.

Already passionate about all that affected her ancestors at Grand Pré, Léger has designed a triptych. She is working in collaboration with Mi’kmaq artist Gerald Gloade and Doug Morse, a Planter descendant from the Grand Pré area. The work has the theme of reconciliation.

Léger’s carved work was unveiled during Acadian Days. The Planter piece is scheduled to be unveiled Sept. 5 and the First Nations portion will be unveiled Oct. 30. The complete sculpture will be unveiled at the Historic Site July 1, 2012, and will be housed inside the visitors’ centre.

Léger remembers her first trip to Grand Pré 30 years ago. She saw a plaque listing the family names of the deported, which included the Légers.

“I thought ‘my God, we belong to something.’ I was overwhelmed,” she recalls.

Léger was back most recently for the Congres Mondial in 2004.

Former Parks Canada superintendent Claude DeGrace connected her with the current project. Léger has titled it: Three Cultures, One Land, Rich in History.

She adds she is happy to be carving images from Grand Pré, like the Acadian star and an eagle atop the old elm, because “a lot happened here. There will be some surprises.”

“I thought ‘my God, we belong to something.’ I was overwhelmed." Sculptor Monette Léger

Léger’s partner Raymond Nadeau acted as her assistant and moved a number of big pieces of the trunk. They even collected wood chips as souvenirs.

In the adjacent meeting room, Léger’s photos titled Sea to Sea and smaller carvings were on display. She also enjoys making body paintings.

Léger began snow sculpting back in the early 1990s when she created a snow sculpture for Shediac's winter carnival.

Her interest grew over the years and she was invited to create sculptures at the Canada Winter Games in 2003. Léger has represented New Brunswick during competitions in Ottawa and at the Quebec Winter Carnival.


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Organizations: Grand Pré National Historic Site, Parks Canada, French Cross First Nations Acadians and Black African Maritimers Deportation Cross Society Nationale UNESCO United Church of Canada Intercultural Heritage Association Black Cultural Society of Nova Scotia Wolfville Historical Society

Geographic location: Grand Pré, Shediac, Gaspereau River New Brunswick Canada Ottawa Quebec Nova Scotia Moncton

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