Gumby on University Avenue*

Copyright 2016, Public Art of Toronto. All rights reserved.

Per Ardua ad Astra, 1984
Located: Intersection of Dundas Street and University Avenue
Artist: Oscar Nemon (1906-1985)
Commissioned by: Hal Jackman
Copyright 2016, Public Art of Toronto. All rights reserved.

In the week leading up to Remembrance Day on November the 11th, PATO will be featuring various memorials to Canada’s valiant war heroes.

I can understand the dissatisfaction. The piece is vague. I’m not entirely sure what is at the top of the statue. Is it a plane? An eagle? Some sort of weird hybrid? It’s not clear. Considering Nemon’s stellar work on the Churchill Memorial just a short walk away in Nathan Phillips Square, the piece feels unfinished. It’s not a soaring piece of work, it seems quite small and overshadowed by the nearby office buildings. In fact, I used to walk past it almost daily and failed to notice the piece.

Hardly the lofty memorial that the brave men who fought and died for our freedom in the skies above Europe deserve.

Still, I do feel a sort of affection for Nemon’s ultimate work. It’s can’t be called his magnum opus, but Per Ardua is not completely horrible. I just think it needs to be placed in a slightly more prosaic setting, where you can appreciate the piece for what it is, as opposed to fighting its surroundings, reminding us of what it is not.

How did Gumby wind up on University Avenue? Find out in Part One.

*Bonus Post


Edward Micheal George, Hideous Public Art – Two Curmudgeons Stroll Down University Avenue, (November 9, 2016),
The Great Canadian Book of Lists, Gumby Goes to Heaven, (November 9, 2016)
Secret Bases Wiki, Per ardua ad astra, (November, 9, 2016),

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