Created By: SFU
Overlooking downtown Vancouver and Coal Harbour, the Robert Burns monument was the very first statue installed in the city. The figure of Scotland’s National Bard is the first structure that you will come across upon entering Stanley Park by turning east off Georgia Street. According to the Vancouver Archives, the Vancouver Burns Fellowship, which was formed to encourage the study of Burns’ life and works, played a large role in ensuring that the statue was erected in a prominent location.
The Fellowship, along with the help of the Scottish Orchestra and the Vancouver Scottish Choir, fundraised money towards the statue. Their fundraising efforts included a wide variety of actives, such as whist drives, dances, teas, and a music festival held in Stanley Park. The organization attempted to commission an original statue, but decided not to select any of the designs that were submitted because they did not resemble Robert Burns. Instead, the organization decided to purchase a replica of George Lawson’s original Robert Burns statue that can be seen in Ayr, Scotland. The statue had a long journey as it was shipped from England to Vancouver through the Panama Canal. The cost of the statue was $5,000 and an additional $2,000 was raised to build a granite pedestal on which to situate the nine foot bronze figure.
In 1928, the statue was unveiled by the Rt. Hon. J Ramsay MacDonald, former British Prime Minister, who was coincidentally on vacation in Canada. The unveiling ceremony attracted an extensive crowd estimated at 10-12,000 people and featured music by the Vancouver Scottish Choir and by the pipe band of the 72nd Seaforth Highlanders.
The inscription on the top of the statue’s front plaque reads:
Below this inscription, the bottom plaque says:
“This statue of Robert Burns, Scotland’s National Bard, was unveiled by J. Ramsay MacDonald, a Prime Minister of Britain, on 25th August 1923
This memorial was rededicated on the 200th anniversary of the bard’s death by the Burns Club of Vancouver.
21 July, 1996.
Then let us pray that come it may (as come it will for a’that)...that man to man, the world o’er shall brithers be for a’ that.”
Excerpts and reliefs of scenes from Robert Burns’ poems, Tam O'Shanter (1790), The Cotter's Saturday Night (1785), and To A Mountain Daisy (1786), are also included around the statue.
In 2009, the statue was the site of a Burns Day celebration organized by SFU's Centre for Scottish Studies that linked Burns Clubs around the world using wireless phones (in the days before smart phones).
Bibliography: Vancouver’s Tribute to Burns, published to commemorate the unveiling of a statue to Scotland’s immortal bard in Stanley Park (Vancouver, 1928). Retrieved from http://www.electricscotland.com/burns/vancouver_burns.pdf
This point of interest is part of the tour: Scotland Walks Vancouver