Barrie’s waterfront is graced by a captivating masterpiece known as the Spirit Catcher. Crafted by sculptor Ron Baird for the 1986 EXPO in Vancouver, this iconic structure draws inspiration from the rich tapestry of Indigenous oral traditions in the Pacific Northwest, particularly the powerful imagery of the Thunderbird.
Originally showcased at False Creek in Vancouver, the Spirit Catcher found its permanent home in Barrie after being acquired by the Helen McCrea Peacock Foundation of Toronto. In 1987, the foundation generously donated the 20-tonne Corten steel sculpture to the Barrie Gallery Project, later known as the MacLaren Art Centre.
The Spirit Catcher’s journey, however, was not without challenges. A few months after its installation, the relentless winds of Kempenfelt Bay caused some of its quills and one antenna to come loose. Undeterred, the dedicated team behind the masterpiece swiftly redesigned these elements, ensuring the sculpture’s structural integrity for generations to come.
The MacLaren Art Center
This monumental artwork holds a special place in the heart of the MacLaren Art Centre. Not only did it become the first piece in the Centre’s permanent collection, but it also stands as the largest and most awe-inspiring creation within its walls.
For those curious to explore more about the Spirit Catcher and the vibrant arts community in Barrie, the MacLaren Art Centre provides a wealth of information on its website at www.maclarenart.com. Delve into the fascinating history, the artist’s vision, and the enduring legacy of this timeless marvel that graces Barrie’s waterfront, inviting all to connect with the spirit of art and culture.