An echo of history: 3 Nova Scotians replicate Vimy Ridge memorial

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An echo of history: 3 Nova Scotians replicate Vimy Ridge memorial

Halifax sculptor Peter Bustin is the man behind some of the city's most famous public works of art, but he's rarely had a project with as much pressure and emotional weight behind it as his re-creation of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial. 

Bustin, who worked with Shad Bay's Derek Collier and David Albiston of Elmsdale, had just four months to recreate the famous monument, at the request of the National War Museum in Ottawa.

"I did a lot of internet research to find the photographs of the figures I was recreating, and couldn't help but to be stunned by both the beauty of the monument itself but also the significance of why it's there and the men who fought and died there," he said. "It was just always there on my mind."

Bustin, whose works include The Sailor's statue at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and the Samuel Cunard statue outside the Seaport Market, worked on 20 human figures, using clay and plastic. He was commissioned after creating a similar model for the Army Museum at Citadel Hill.

Collier used high-density foam to create the structure including the two towers and the steps, while Albiston worked on the plywood base and inscribing.  

The finished product is roughly 1.5 metres high, at a scale of 1:32. Nothing compared to Walter Allward's 1936 original, which took 11 years to build, but a daunting enough task considering it was started shortly before Christmas.

"Getting it done on time for this anniversary was probably the biggest challenge because we had a very set date that it had to be not only finished by but also successfully shipped and placed in the museum in Ottawa," Bustin said.

A driver safely delivered the piece to Ottawa, leaving Halifax on March 23 and arriving at the museum on March 24. The model is now part of a new exhibition called Vimy — Beyond the Battle, which runs until Nov. 12.