Library Spotlight

The Golden Boy:
100th anniversary of being atop the Dome

  • The Golden Boy: 100th anniversary of being atop the Dome
  • Drawing of the winning entry for the proposed new legislature building in Winnipeg. Note the statue on the Dome. Construction Magazine
November 1912 Vol. 5, no. 12 p. 69
  • This is a photo of a statue made after the Mercury created by Giovanni Da Bologna.  The original was said to have served as the inspiration for the Golden Boy.
  • Early conceptual sketch of the statue. The Beaver Aug/Sept Vol. 73, no. 4 1993 p. 30
  • Engineering specifications for the steel support shaft.  Note the ball which was dropped from the final statue. The Beaver Aug/Sept Vol. 73, no. 4 1993 p. 30
  • Photo of the scale model, or 'figure du genie' made by Charles Gardet. The Beaver Aug/Sept Vol. 73, no. 4 1993 p. 30
  • Workers install the Golden Boy in November 1919. Photo: Archives of Manitoba - N12129 Workers install the Golden Boy in November 1919.
    Photo: Archives of Manitoba - N12129
  • Photos of the statuary found on the dome of the new Legislature. Note that the article refers to the Golden Boy as 'Manitoba'. The Winnipeg Evening Tribune July 17, 1920 p. 8
  • Sensitive Poet Makes Pleas That Begrimed 'Golden Boy' be Given Thorough Tubbing. Winnipeg Evening Tribune. May 4, 1937 p. 1
  • There was much discussion in the Winnipeg papers as to whether the Golden Boy would get a much needed bath before the coronation of George VI and Queen Elizabeth on May 12, 1937. He didn't.
  • A cameraman is seen on a ladder leading from the scaffolding right under the Golden Boy, erected by the Palmers Friday. You see the close-up view, he got of the statue, the view he got looking down on Winnipeg, with the roofs of the legislative building directly beneath. The picture of him on the ladder was taken from the roof
  • Bobby Palmer, one of the steeplejacks hired to clean the Golden Boy, perched atop the statue as he gets his post-coronation bath.  Inset are images of Bobby and Tommy and their father Charles who supervised the operation.

Winnipeg Free Press May 18, 1937 p. 24
  • The Winnipeg Evening Tribune
        May 19, 1937 p. 13
  • The Golden Boy poem by A. M. Pratt
  • The government was searching for a solution to the Golden Boy's aging problem.  It was decided that the statue would be painted.
  • In 1946 a high-rigger named Bob Brady says he would stand on the Golden Boy’s hand for $1,000
  • Steeple-jack Stanley says 'nothing to it'
  • In 1949 onlookers in Winnipeg and Ottawa are alarmed by the sight of smoke rising from the Legislature and Parliament. In both cases it turned out to be nothing but steam.
  • In 1948 or 1949 the Golden Boy is painted at a cost of $700.  After only three months the paint has turned almost black. In 1951 the story about the paint job came out.
  • Newspaper clipping with caption: NOT GREETING ROYALTY Golden Boy will be undercover when Princess Elizabeth and Philip visit Winnipeg Tuesday.  At the moment he is on the receiving end of a regilding operation and is hidden from view by the above wooden structure
  • Newspaper clipping with caption: Manitoba's Golden Boy emerged Monday from his cocoon of scaffolding atop the legislative building to blaze in new 23 karat gold glory. The Boy, whose proper name is Eternal Youth, recently received a thorough scrubbing through the layers of dirt down to the original bronze. Then he was gilded with 50,000 square inches of pure gold leaf. Now the Boy today is shining in eye-dazzling splendor. Free Press photographer Bill Rose climbed to the top to get this shot.
  • Newspaper clipping with caption: Manitoba's Golden Boy, symbol of the province, will take a prominent place in the Grey Cup parade Dec, 2 in Toronto, whether or not the Blue Bombers are there to be cheered by the sight of it. Joan Reimer of Reimer Display puts some finishing touches on the model, part of Winnipeg's float for the parade. Constructed by Display Industries, the float will not be finally assembled until it reaches Toronto.
  • 1963 editorial cartoon. The caption reads: You'll never get to be a Golden Boy dressed like that.”
  • In June 1952 flagpole dancers Benny and Betty Fox were in town to perform at the Red River Exhibition.  While in the city Benny climbed up on the Dome to perform a handstand on the Golden Boy’s head.  According to the Free Press he decided the statue was too slippery while the Tribune reported that officials wouldn’t let him.  He settled for polishing the statue a bit, posing and smoking a cigarette.  He invited Anne Henry, a Tribune reporter to come along but she only made it as far as one of the sphinxes on the main roof before wisely quitting. In June 1953 Benny and Betty were scheduled to pose by the Golden Boy. Bad weather may have prevented this.
  • In 1966 it was announced that the Golden Boy would receive a lit torch for Canada's Centennial year. Natural gas was suggested and tested and quickly rejected so in December workers climbed up to the statue and clamped a mercury vapor lamp to his torch. While the lamp was only meant to be in place during the Centennial year of 1967 it remained in place until 2002.
  • Newspaper images: attaching the lamp to the torch in December 1966.
  • In 1969 famed Métis fiddler and bandleader Andy Dejarlis composed a traditional two step called Manitoba's Golden Boy
  • Black and white newspaper photo from the Winnipeg Tribune of the Golden Boy in 1978
  • Newsaper image with caption: Steeplejack Barry Johnston replaces the bulb in the torch held by the Golden Boy, 77 metres (255 feet) above the ground yesterday. Johnston and partner Dale Pawloski are the first people to visit the statue, perched atop the Legislative Building, since the bulb last burned out 10 years ago
  • Newsaper image with caption: changing this light bulb no joke for steeplejacks. In February 1993 the bulb in the Centennial torch was replaced for the last time at a cost of $1,200.00.
  • Changing the light bulb February 1st 1993. The lightbulb was changed three times during the 35 years the lamp was clamped to the torch: 1970, 1982, and lastly in 1993. Grandview Exponent February 17, 1993 p. 12
  • By the 1990s the 1951 gilding had mostly worn off. Guide du Palais Législatif du Manitoba, Voyage Manitoba p. 7
  • Close-up 2001. Restoring the glory 2002 p. 16
  • Close-up picture of Golden Boy with caption: By 2001 the Golden Boy was much in need of a makeover. Originally the plan was to encase him in scaffolding and perform the work in place however studies showed that his support rod was in need of replacement so it was decided to remove him from the dome late in 2001. Note the attached lamp and the power cord. Restoring the glory 2002 p. 7
  • Top left: The statue enveloped in a special aluminum lifting frame. Bottom left: An opening behind the statue’s left knee reveals the corroded support post. Marred by the ravages of time and the undignified stickers of restoration studies, the Golden Boy’s beauty is still evident. Restoring the glory 2002 p. 8
  • In February 2002 the Golden Boy was removed from his perch. Top left: The journey to restoration begins as the Golden Boy is lifted clear of the scaffolding. Bottom left: The statue touches prairie soil for the first time in over 80 years. Encased in its aluminum frame, the Golden Boy is slowly lowered to the ground.
  • The statue is lowered down in a special cradle in February 2002. Image courtesy of Dillon Consulting.
  • Top left: Lieutenant Governor Peter Liba, former Premier Duff Roblin, then Premier Gary Doer and Minister Steve Ashton welcome the Golden Boy when he reaches the ground. Bottom left: Secure in its lifting frame, the statue is carried into the Manitoba Museum for public display. Bits of gold leaf applied in 1951 still cling, giving the statue a mottled appearance. Restoring the glory 2002 p. 12
  • The Golden Boy on display at the Manitoba Museum. Restoring the glory 2002 p. 1
  • Carefully disassembling the statue; the original support rod was badly corroded. Image courtesy of Dillon Consulting.
  • Upper torso with reflective targets for photogrammetry. Image courtesy of Dillon Consulting.
  • Top left: Molten bronze is poured into the statue’s leg, forming a plug to anchor the support post. Bottom left: A skilled artisan carefully applies thin gold leaf over the Golden Boy. The statue’s torso sits in the foreground as technicians work on the support structure from its lower half. Restoring the glory 2002 p. 14
  • Fabricating a new stainless steel support rod, which has a compound bend; grooves were cast into the Golden Boy's ankle to transfer the vertical load to the rod. Image courtesy of Dillon Consulting.
  • The Golden Boy was coated with four layers of primer before gilding began at the Forks. The Winnipeg Free Press July 12, 2002 p. 4
  • The gilded Golden Boy on display at the Forks. Photo by G. Singleton
  • In 2015 Winnipegger chocolatier Constance Menzies decided to create a chocolate version of the Golden Boy.  It took almost an entire year for the idea to come to a reality with the aid of artist Denis Duguay and mold maker Mark Banman. Golden Boy Gift Shop
  • Safely atop the dome once more. Image courtesy of Dillon Consulting.
  • Legislative Reading Room
Room 260 - 450 Broadway
Winnipeg MB  R3C 0V8
204-945-4243 ; Legislative Library
100 - 200 Vaughan Street,
Winnipeg MB  R3C 1T5

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