The famous Nature Girl statues have left Centretown

The three Nature Girls bronze statues in front of 80 Elgin last fall: (l-r) Stump Girl, Conifer Girl, and Bush Girl. (Alayne McGregor/The BUZZ)
The three Nature Girls bronze statues in front of 80 Elgin last fall: (l-r) Stump Girl, Conifer Girl, and Bush Girl. (Alayne McGregor/The BUZZ)

This article was updated from the print version to include further information from the NCC on its plans for 80 Elgin.

Alayne McGregor

The Nature Girls have left Centretown. The three famous bronze sculptures, which sat in front of the British High Commission on Elgin Street for the last 25 years, were recently packed up and moved to the high commission’s new location on Sussex Drive.

The sculptures – one of which was the subject of a police investigation – peeked out from among shrubs in front of 80 Elgin. Named Stump Girl, Conifer Girl, and Bush Girl, each has little girl’s legs topped with a tree.

The high commission sold its Elgin Street headquarters to the National Capital Commission (NCC), and has moved to a new building at 140 Sussex Drive adjacent to Earnscliffe, the commissioner’s official residence. High commission spokesperson Tom Walsh said the Nature Girls would soon be placed outside the new building, and would be visible from Sussex Drive.

The small bronze sculptures were created by Welsh sculptor Laura Ford and installed in 1998. Only two weeks later, Stump Girl – a tree trunk with knobbly stumped arms and bright red shoes – was stolen, and stayed missing. After a few months, Ford was commissioned to create a replacement.

Finally, six months later, the original Stumpy showed up in Vanier.

The high commission ran a contest to find a location for the Stumpy replacement, which had also had a rough initial introduction to Canada. According to a story in the Ottawa XPress, the replacement was lost for three weeks in Toronto and (temporarily) lost a leg before getting repaired.

A new space for the National Capital Commission, and a new government use for 40 Elgin

The NCC said it plans to use 80 Elgin for its new headquarters, moving in by 2025. It is currently retrofitting the building to “bring it into the 21st century.” All NCC staff currently at 40 Elgin will be accommodated at 80 Elgin in a hybrid work model.

It said it will use the new location to “strengthen and modernize its approach to public engagement by developing public gathering places and accessible meeting spaces at street level, thus enhancing opportunities for public and visitor interaction with the NCC and its staff. This could include access to initiatives such as the NCC’s Urbanism Lab Series, providing a platform for Canadians, along with leaders in urbanism, design, heritage, conservation, sustainability, and placemaking, to come together to imagine the future of Canada’s Capital Region.”

Public Services and Procurement Canada will manage the space currently occupied by the NCC at 40 Elgin, an NCC spokesperson said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *