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Thunder Bay, Ontario

The most imposing Lithuanian International Friendship Garden monument in Canada is found in Thunder Bay, a small city in northern Ontario, 700 km (430 mi.) east of Winnipeg.

The Lithuanian monument is one of eighteen International Friendship Gardens monuments representing ethnic groups in the Thunder Bay area. The park was organized in 1967 by the local Soroptimist Women's Club to commemorate Canada‘s centennial.

The monument was designed by the noted Canadian-Lithuanian architect Alfredas Kulpa-Kulpavičius. Atop a small elevation, reached by stairs, stands a representation of a wayside shrine made of concrete, with the traditional figure of a Sorrowful Christ inside, created by Jonas Dagys. On the roof of the shrine is a Lithuanian sunburst cross typical in folk art.

Thunder Bay monumental composition for Lithuania

Thunder Bay Lithuanian Monument

There are two marble plaques on the sides of the monument: the first bears the Lithuanian "Vytis“ Coat of Arms inscribed in Lithuanian with the first line of Lithuania‘s National Anthem; the second displays Canada‘s maple leaf and the words "Lithuanian Culture and Work Dedicated to Canada.“

At ground level is a broad pedestal capped with a stone that is engraved with the word "LITHUANIA“ and various emblems and figures of significance to Lithuanians. The inscription reads:"The first Lithuanians came to the Thunder Bay area before the turn of the century in the year 1874, while the major influx was after the Second World War.“ The text continues: "The Sorrowful Christ symbolizes Lithuania‘s long and tragic history of persecution.“

The mural in front of the monument

The stone in front of the monument

Those Lithuanians who came to Thunder Bay after WWII were fleeing Soviet oppression. And it states further: "Lithuanian-Canadian community dedicates this monument to all Canadians who believe in the dream and promise of the new land, Canada.“

One of the mural plaques on the Sorrowful Jesus column

A plaque on a column aside the Sorrowful Christ

Though it seems the Thunder Bay Lithuanian Community was still around in 1974, when the monument was put up, in the ensuing years it dwindled away, as some Lithuanians lost interest in their culture, while others moved to other parts of Canada.

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