High atop the Manitoba Legislative Building, 250 feet above ground, the statue called “Eternal Youth and the Spirit of Enterprise” (or as it as come to be affectionately known by Manitobans, the “Golden Boy”), stands proudly facing north. A symbol so important and full of meaning for our province’s past, present and future, on November 21, 2019, the statue marked 100 years of looking down upon us, a witness to many of the most important events in Manitoba history.
As part of the construction of Manitoba’s third Legislative Building, which started in 1913, the Manitoba Government commissioned French sculptor Georges Gardet to create a set of five bronze statues that would be featured prominently in and on the building. The most notable of these statues, the Golden Boy, was created with the intent of resting in a place of honour at the very peak of the building which would become the centre of the province’s political life. During World War I the statue was cast in bronze in a French foundry and then placed in a ship’s hold for transport to Canada. However, it took a year of travel to make its way to North America; the ship was commandeered to transport Allied troops and supplies across the Atlantic Ocean and within the Mediterranean Sea, its precious cargo used as ballast. Despite the dangerous missions, both the ship and the Golden Boy made it at last to New York. The statue was then shipped by train to Winnipeg and placed atop the Legislative Building on November 21, 1919. With this installation, the tip of its torch was the tallest point in Winnipeg in 1919.