The year was 1986 and Canada was a buzz with Expo fever. The theme of Expo ’86 was Transportation and Communication, and was held in Vancouver. As part of the planning for the Expo nine artisans were asked to submit their ideas, of the nine, two artists were commissioned to create their sculptures. Ron Bairdwas one of the artist that were chosen to make his vision become a reality. Ron used the theme of communication and the influence of west coast First Nation mythology as inspiration for his creation.
The centre piece of Barrie’s water front is the sculpture Ron created, named “Spirit Catcher”. Spirit Catcher stands a mighty 65ft high, by 70ft wide, and weighs in at 20 tons. The Spirit Catcher was actually created from a special type of steel known as COR-TEN, that actually creates a layer of oxidation on the steel that helps to protect the sculptures structural integrity. As opposed to regular steel which consumes itself with oxidation.
After the close of Expo ’86 the sculpture was sold to the Helen McCrea Peacock Foundation for $230,000. The Foundation then donated the Spirit Catcher to the Barrie Gallery Project, which later became the MacLaren Art Centre. The Spirit Cather was dedicated September 12, 1987 at which time the site where the Spirit Catcher now stands was blessed by burning sweet grass and a Native Drum performance by Rama First Nation.
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Please support Ron Baird by visiting his website and checking out his work which can be found in many places around central and southern Ontario. Also, please help support the MacLaren Art Centre, which can be visited at 37 Mulcaster St. in Barrie.