The Monument

The artist and his wife with finished clay sculpture before shipping it to the foundry to be cast in bronze.

The bronze sculpture will consist of a birch bark canoe and three human figures:

  • a Man portaging a birch bark canoe from Lake Michigan
  • a Woman, carrying their belongings
  • an Elder showing the way, literally and figuratively

Each figure will be approximately ten-feet high, with the canoe reaching 20 feet in length.  The birch bark canoe itself will be at the center of focus as it is held aloft upon the shoulders of the portageur.  Its significance to the monument reflects its significance to the American Indians who crafted this beautiful light-weight vessel and used it to travel the waterways of the upper Great Lakes.

A 1/8th scale maquette (working model) was completed in 2013 and two casts in bronze were produced for local display.  From the maquette, full scale enlargements are produced in rigid foam, then clay is applied to the foam figures, and details are sculpted in the clay.  Much of this work will be completed in a studio space donated in downtown Manitowoc by Steve Schinan. Once the sculpting is completed, molds will be made and shipped to a foundry in Oregon for bronze casting. After assembly, welding, and patina are done, the figures will be shipped to the site for installation. Cast in bronze, the sculpture group will weigh over three tons, with a patina customized to highlight the details of native clothing and canoe construction.

A volunteer board is seeking private funding and is guiding the overall project.

Woman Elder Young Man Portaging Canoe