The Prime Ministers’ Statue Project (now referred to as The Prime Ministers Path Project) is an artistic and educational project. The project was brought to the Wilmot Council by a private arts group known as Createscape Waterloo Region. The project intended to contract with respected artists for the creation of ‘life-sized’ statues of each Canadian Prime Minister in a form that would be ‘inviting to interaction’ by the viewing public. This meant each statue would be displayed at ground level, be actual life-size so as not to be imposing, and be presented in a ‘situation’ that ‘invited’ viewers to approach and “interact with” the statue. For example, a Prime Minister may be displayed near or on a bench so that the public could approach and sit with the Prime Minister, allowing for imaginary conversations between them. See photo. An ‘educational component was to be part of each display, which was the responsibility of the Township to arrange for and provide.

The public record shows that the project’s concept was introduced to Wilmot Township Council and professional staff on February 19th, 2016.  Attending that meeting and representing Createscape Waterloo Region were Jim Rodger and Ruth Abernathy. Representing Wilmot Council and its professional staff were Mayor Armstrong, CAO Grant Whittington, Director of Finance R. Tse, Director of Castle Kilbride/Curator T. Loch and Director of Clerk’s Services Barbara McLeod.

The results of that meeting, and subsequent ‘due diligence’ by staff first appear in public documents as a Township of Wilmot REPORT [Click the red link] included as an Attachment 9.2.1 to the Council Meeting Minutes of March 21, 2016.


THAT Report No CL2016-06 dated April 4, 2016, and prepared by the Director of Clerk’s Services, be endorsed, and further;

THAT the Mayor and Clerk be authorized to enter into an agreement between the Township of Wilmot and Createscape Waterloo Region and to sign the associated By-law.”

The enthusiastic support of Wilmot Council was evident in Councillors’ comments contained in the Council Meeting Minutes of April 4, 2016.

The legal Agreement was signed by the Township on May 5th, 2016 and by Createscape on May 16th, 2016.

The Agreement (page 2, item 7.) called for Createscape to provide the Statues and for the Township to assume possession and responsibility for their ongoing care at Castle Kilbride and to provide an educational component which was deemed to be essential for the success of the project as it would advertise and encourage participation by the public in learning about the Prime Ministers and the values of the people at various eras.

The Township shall oversee the development and ongoing operation of an educational program that is accessible to the public with respect to the PM Statues and the history of the prime ministers depicted in the PM Statues, their importance to Canada and their times, that is of a quality that meets public expectations.”

The Wilmot Council Minutes of April 4, 2016, prove that it was with a positive enthusiasm that the project was initiated. (See bold below: A.Junker, B. Fisher, J. Gerber, M. Murray, L. Armstrong)

The Council Meeting Minutes provide a permanent record of the Council’s position regarding the project and its potential:

“Councillor P. Roe noted that he welcomes this report and the project as a way to celebrate the leaders who founded Canada.

Council Meeting Minutes April 4, 2016 Page 3

Councillor A. Junker expressed his support of this project and endeavour to enhance the knowledge of the history of Canada. He stated that the burial sites of the past prime Ministers are scattered throughout Canada and that this project will bring all past Prime Ministers to one central location as an artistic endeavour and as an educational venture. He noted through the project both the good and bad can be taught and visitors can learn who these leaders really were. He stressed that people of today cannot impose their values on people from yesterday. He concluded by stating that Canada has a history we can be proud of but also a history that we can learn from.

Councillor B. Fisher noted that this project is a tremendous opportunity for Baden that will have national excitement. He stated that he personally chooses to remember and celebrate the positive contributions of Canada’s leaders.

Councillor J. Gerber expressed his appreciation for the historic nature of the project. He commented that it will be a chance to see and question the impact that these leaders had on the Country which can prompt some valuable discussion. He noted that this is an excellent opportunity on an appropriate location adjacent to Castle Kilbride, the home of James Livingston who served as a Member of Parliament. He concluded by stating that this will enhance the tourism in the area and that it is significant for the Township given the local roots for its beginning.

Councillor M. Murray concurred with his fellow Councillors and expressed his excitement for the project as well.

Mayor L. Armstrong advised that he has spoken with other local politicians who expressed that they were glad to see this project find a home within Waterloo Region. He noted that he is disappointed to see gaps in the way history is often presented since it is through the good and bad that we learn from our past. He stated that all aspects need to be presented so that we do not repeat the mistakes. He further stated that he views this as an opportunity to ensure all of history is presented. He thanked the committee for their work on this project.

Councillor J. Gerber added that the financial arrangements are appealing where it is being funded entirely through federal grants and private donations, noting that staff will follow through with due diligence on the details of the agreement.

Mayor L. Armstrong concurred with Councillor J. Gerber.

In response to Councillor B. Fisher, Mr. Rodgers, Co-Chair with Createscape Waterloo Region, advised that this would be the only site consisting of all past Prime Ministers.

Council Meeting Minutes April 4, 2016 Page 4

He clarified that Prime Ministers’ Row on Laurier Avenue East in Ottawa has statues of the past Prime Ministers who lived on that street and Parliament Hill has only eight statues of past Prime Ministers.”

Between 2016 and 2020 things changed. New Councillors appeared. News reports of Residential Schools and “unmarked” graves were in the press. Red paint got thrown on erected statues by vandals. Shoes were placed at Castle Kilbride. Banners were mounted on wooden poles driven into the Municipal property. Loud voices demanded press coverage.

Apparently due to political pressure by a segment of the nearby population professional staff presented a report with a recommendation that Council executes a Supplementary Agreement (in Report No. ILS 2020-27) was authorized for execution on October 5, 2020 (By-law No. 2020-37 October 5, 2020) and was again authorized for execution on November 2, 2020.

Nov. 2, 2020, Report Addendum To ILS 2020-27

The Nature of the Educational Programs

“…feedback received thus far, plus any additional feedback received during the Prime Ministers Path Consultations, should form the basis upon which the educational resources are presented and created, and it has been established that improvements are needed. Methods or structures that would evaluate or cause to evaluate the educational resources for the balanced historical perspective being requested may be included in the comments received during the Prime Ministers’ Path Consultations and ultimately form part of the recommendation for the Council’s consideration. Examples of this could include but are not limited to, ongoing consultations with Indigenous educators, ongoing consultations with any committee or group formed at the Region of Waterloo as a result of the Indigenous Reconciliation Action Plan, working with the Indigenous Worker at the Wilmot Family Resource Centre, and/or consulting with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and other Indigenous communities. This is not an exhaustive list and the outcomes of the Prime Ministers Path Consultations are unknown, but is presented to illustrate that possibilities exist, if recommended and endorsed, that may improve the educational resources as the Township furthers its accountability to the Principles of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its Calls to Action.

Currently, the resources are available on the Township website. Any person who wishes to bring forward ideas to improve the balance in the information being shared is encouraged to contact the Township with their ideas or resources.”

The Municipality has its own in-house experts in educational programming at the Castle Kilbride Museum. An extensive list of program components has been suggested to the Township by many people over time, and Council has not ensured that its staff has compiled such a list, attempted to connect with support agencies such as Nippissing University, and that its staff was implementing them.

If Wilmot staff and the Wilmot Council had fulfilled their requirements under the Agreement to provide, “an educational program that is accessible to the public with respect to the PM Statues and the history of the prime ministers depicted in the PM Statues, their importance to Canada and their times, that is of a quality that meets public expectations“, it is highly probable that the participatory ‘buy-in’ from multiple cultural sources would have avoided the emotional distress portrayed by some and the vandalism perpetrated by a few.

Wilmot Council failed in its duties and is responsible for the potential loss of a wonderful opportunity that a previous Council recognized in 2016!!