Video - Harper Memorial - Sir Galahad - Decoding ART – Heritage Monuments


Transcript of Harper Memorial - Sir Galahad

Narrator: “This capsule is presented by Canadian Heritage”

[Canadian Heritage signature]

[The bronze statue of sir Galahad]

Narrator: “Often, public monuments commemorate political figures, military campaigns or large national events.

“Some monuments, though, are more personal in nature. They help us remember the people who make up our history and culture.
“This bronze statue of Sir Galahad honours the bravery of an everyday hero, and is a testament to the power of friendship.”

[Portrait of Henry Albert Harper]

Narrator: “It tells the story of Henry Albert Harper, a young civil servant who gave his life trying to rescue a drowning girl more than 100 years ago.”

[The office of Henry Albert Harper and a close-up of the painting of sir Galahad]

Narrator: “Harper, known as Bert to his friends, admired the code of chivalry held by medieval knights. He kept a print of Sir Galahad above his desk for inspiration.”

[Historical photo of people skating on the Ottawa River]

Narrator: “On the evening of December 6, 1901, Harper joined a group of young people skating on the Ottawa River.

“Tragedy struck when Bessie Blair fell through a thin patch of ice into the freezing water.

“Despite the danger, Harper dove into the icy water to try and save her.”

[Close-up of the plaque at the foot of the memorial monument]

Narrator: “Sadly, he wasn’t able to rescue her… and both young people perished in the river that night.

“Within a few days, a citizens’ committee had formed to build a monument to Harper.”

[The statue with the Parliament buildings in the background]

Narrator: “Bert had been good friends with Mackenzie King, the future prime minister of Canada. King took an active part in planning the memorial. To commemorate his friend’s sacrifice, he suggested a sculpture of Sir Galahad.

“The design by American sculptor Ernest Wise Keyser shows Sir Galahad as a slim, youthful knight.

“A plaque at the foot of the statue features a quotation from Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, one of Bert’s favourite poems about the medieval knights of King Arthur’s Round Table.

“It reads: “If I lose myself, I save myself!”

“The monument’s location, near the entrance gates to Parliament Hill, reflects Mackenzie King’s desire to place his friend’s memorial at a prominent site in the capital.”

[Canada wordmark]

Page details

Date modified: