| Zuzak Letters |
Winnipeg Free Press | 19Apr2013 | Doug Speirs
Rights museum awe-inspiring icon that will make our city world-class
The selected comments appended below appropriately reflect most
people's views on this article by Doug Speirs -- an obvious, blatant
propaganda piece hyping the CMHR. Rather than responding to the deceit of the Asper Foundation and the exhortation of Paul Grod and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress for an equitable treatment of the Holodomor in the CMHR, Mr. Speirs fantasizes about a "world class city".]
It takes a lot more than pothole-free streets and efficient snow
removal to make a great city.
You also need great stuff, the kind of world-class stuff that touches
the hearts and minds of the people who live there and inspires the
people who live far away to come and check it out.
You need stuff like the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the towering,
architectural icon of glass, stone, concrete and steel at The Forks.
I know this because, on Thursday, I toured the massive $351-million
structure, the first national museum located outside Canada's Capital
The truth is, I tagged along with a buddy, standup comedian Big Daddy
Tazz, who is hosting a May 30, 2013 fundraising gala for the museum at
which electric guitars built by students at Selkirk Junior High School
-- and autographed by an impressive roster of international celebrities
-- will be auctioned off.
It is not easy to describe the sense of wonder and amazement you get as
you make your way through the spacious halls and galleries of this
museum, expected to open in the second half of 2014, but if I had to
sum up the experience in a single word, that word would be: Wow!
This is not just a building. It's a work of art. I realize opinions
vary, but for me, it was like staring at one of those mind-boggling,
iconic drawings of the legendary artist M.C. Escher sprung to life.
From the exterior, which most of us have seen, it's breathtaking. From
the inside, which far fewer have seen, it's even more spectacular.
The museum rises from a base of four massive stone "roots" meant to
represent humanity's connection to the Earth. "Three of the roots will
be covered with tall grass prairie and we'll be doing that landscaping
any day now when the snow is gone," chuckled Angela Cassie, the
museum's communications manager. "The fourth will form an outdoor
Tucked inside the roots, visitors will find classrooms, a 350-seat
theatre, a temporary gallery, ticketing facilities, a restaurant and a
Our tour began in the sprawling Buhler Hall, a cavernous meeting place,
with a floor designed to resemble cracked Red River mud and massive
girders on the ceiling to support the huge load created by the Stuart
C. Clark Garden of Contemplation on Level 2.
Around every turn is an architectural feature that literally takes a
visitor's breath away. The museum's 10 galleries, which will house the
main exhibits, are stacked one atop the other, in a massive structure
known as "the mountain," created using more than 18,000 square metres
of Manitoba Tyndall stone.
We reached the galleries by trudging up stairways in our steel-toed
boots, but when the museum opens, visitors will ascend via a
kilometre-long network of signature ramps clad in white alabaster,
quarried in Spain and lit from within with LED lights. Yes, they have
As you ascend the five levels, your journey literally takes you along a
path of gradually receding darkness. "It's the architectural theme of
the building -- a journey from darkness to light as you connect with
the concept of human rights and start to see hope," explained Maureen
Fitzhenry, the museum's media relations manager.
The galleries, which have yet to be formally named or filled with
interactive exhibits, are connected by the cavernous Hall of Hope,
formed by two black graphite-concrete walls rising to 57 metres and
criss-crossed by the glowing alabaster ramps.
"The ramps are meant to represent ribbons of hope, weaving people
through the museum," Cassie noted.
On the second level, the Garden of Contemplation, filled on this day
with scurrying construction workers, is designed as an area of quiet
contemplation featuring infinity pools and gardens carved from more
than 600 tonnes of basalt, a volcanic rock quarried in Mongolia and
pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle.
From the garden, we gazed out through the iconic glass "cloud" that
wraps around the northern facade of the museum. Formed from hundreds of
custom-cut glazed panes, it is meant to resemble the wings of a dove
hugging the museum.
Forgive me for being mushy, but after taking in the panoramic view from
the cloud and the observation deck on the Tower of Hope, which rises to
a peak of 100 metres, you will never see this city with the same eyes
"This is an absolute world-class building," Fitzhenry said from inside
the cloud. "To me, this is the most amazing building I've ever been in
in my life. I've lived in Australia and been inside the Sydney Opera
House and, quite frankly, it sucks in comparison to our museum."
My buddy, Big Daddy Tazz, was initially a cynic, but Thursday's tour
won him over. "I'm a convert," Tazz chirped. "I came in here not
thinking this was a good use of the money, but this is fantastic. I'm
totally enamoured. I'll try to be the first one through the doors."
The heavy construction is done and crews are busy with the finishing
work inside and the landscaping outside. It's a world-class facility,
which is just what this city needs on the road to greatness.
More importantly, it's what we deserve.
*** hefty J 6:45 AM on 4/19/2013 ***
CMHR - Pet project of millionaires....and Doug likes to suck up to all
of them. Free lunch? He's in!
*** cdnavatar 7:31 AM on 4/19/2013 ***
You're an idiot if you believe that monstrosity blight resembles
anything that makes Winnipeg a world class city. Have you ever
travelled abroad? $350,000,000 million dollars and counting certainly
does make us look like world class buffoons!
*** Grubfoot 7:33 AM on 4/19/2013 ***
Sycophantic drivel. I'll subscribe the day you're let go. The funniest
joke you've ever made was getting paid for regurgitating hackneyed
Nothing says 'provincial' as much as "world-class."
*** LuckyBucky 7:54 AM on 4/19/2013 ***
"Rights museum awe-inspiring icon that will make our city world-class."
Good one, Doug. I had my first laugh of the day and I haven't even got
to the comics yet. Your humour columns are great!
*** emcee51 8:27 AM on 4/19/2013***
Awe-inspiring icon???? We will never see the city with the same eyes
This monstrosity is the ugliest building I have ever seen in my life.
Not only does it not fit in with the historical ambience of the Forks,
it looks like it should be in a horror movie. Who wants to look at a
building that resembles a junkyard that has vomited.
I avoid downtown as much as possible but now I don't even look in that
I would never ask people from outside of Manitoba to visit Winnipeg
ever. That thing is embarassing.
*** fromthecore 12:39 PM on 4/19/2013 ***
What a joke. Canada's biggest human rights violation happened to the
original inhabitants of this land, long before any others travesties
happen elsewhere. There were once over 25 million First Nation people
here, but thanks to the invaders, with their diseases and genocidal
ways, they managed to nearly wipe out the true owners of this country.
but of course we treaties u say? Lol, doesn't take a genius to figure
out who got the better deal out of it.
*** JD2 12:57 PM on 4/19/2013 ***
sorry doug, but it is sad when a so called "journalist" resorts to this
kind of shameful "boosterism".....the notion that people are going to
flock here to see this ugly monument to the asper's collective ego was,
is and remains flawed....when one has seen how real "world class
cities" are in comparison winnipeg pales...this city is run by a
consortium of cheap jack developers with no particular vision for our
city beyond their own profit margins....this ugly piece of garbage
should never have been allowed to stain our skyline.....