For years I’ve seen the sculptures around the Toronto Police Headquarters at 40 College Street, but have never really stopped to pay close attention to them – until now. I’ve wanted to photograph the sculptures for quite some time – which I’ve finally done today – and post the shots. Posting these shots led me to investigate the works a bit more. As I discovered, the sculptures have an interesting purpose and back-story; looking at them with what I now know enriches the experience, and I understand why they exist.

The sculptures around the Police Headquarters are called To Serve And Protect – the motto of the Toronto Police Force – and were created by Toronto sculptor Eldon Garnet. Unveiled in 1988, the sculptures are a three-part installation with a theme.

[Note: The following commentary and explanation from Eldon Garnet has been sourced from the website Artworx TO.]

Sculpture 1

“This is the central element where all the figures are moving towards. In this location you will see a stepped up pyramid type of device on which there is nothing. The plinth is empty. You will see a bronze representation of a police woman. This is very much an allegorical figure. This is not really a police woman, this is a police man. This is all police. She is stepping on the pyramid type of device and she is building it. She has a trowel in her right hand and in her left hand she has a walkie-talkie. And she has a gun on her left side which is holstered, but it’s a closed holster which is very symbolic. And allegorical. It’s not a gun ready for action; it’s much more suppressed and to be used under consideration, not like the westerner with the gun at his side ready to be drawn. And she also has a baton on her right hip. And that again is another mode of enforcement but again on her hip. And the walkie-talkie on her hand obviously is about communication and talking, that’s what it’s about. And she’s in the process of building. That’s very important that this police woman is not just on guard, but she’s constructing. Constructing what?”

Sculpture 2 – “Little Glenn”

“This boy is pulling an obelisk on a wagon. You can pat his head, you see it’s becoming a little shiny from people patting this gentle boy’s head. He’s pulling an oversized obelisk on an oversized wagon. And he’s just a young boy, just a young child. He’s not a boy or a girl, he’s not white or is he black or Asian, he’s an allegorical figure of a young person pulling an oversized load. And on this wagon is this 20 foot granite obelisk. What does the obelisk represent? The obelisk has a long history of symbolic meaning. And it has first and foremost a symbol of power. It was used by ancient Egyptians to signify their strength and their markers to the entrance to the grand buildings. And it also has a long history of being stolen. It is not uncommon that all these Egyptian obelisks have been removed from Egypt mostly to museums or in front of other buildings. And so there’s this notion of theft involved in an obelisk also, and power. Why is he pulling this? Where is he pulling it? These are questions you should ask yourself. What about the police woman in the central square? The plinth is empty waiting for something. Could it be this obelisk that this boy is pulling towards her?”

Located at the southeast corner of Bay and Grenville Streets, “Little Glenn” is pulling a 22-foot-tall stone obelisk in a four-wheeled cart. On the obelisk are carved the words “To Serve And Protect”, the motto of the Toronto police force.

Sculpture 3

“This is the Everyman. The Everyman is carrying a wooden support on his shoulders which is bronze in this rendering, two bricks and two large oversized books. He’s obviously a representation of justice and equality, and he’s walking, he’s in motion. What are these objects on his shoulder? The books? The books of the law of course, the books of knowledge, the books of engineering. And on his other shoulder are two granite blocks. These two granite blocks are what is missing from the sculpture on the other side of the building. He walks right through the building, past the desk and out the east doors, and will confront the policewoman who is building a base. This man, this Everyman, is also involved in building a base for a sculpture which is to arrive [the obelisk from Little Glenn]. He is the future. He again is an allegorical figure and is part of the construction of the positive nature of building something for the future.”

Artist’s Conclusion

“What I’m asking in this 3 part sculpture is that all 3 components are working together to build, to build something which is a monument but is an incomplete monument which deals with power, knowledge, authority, all the elements that are embodied in the notion of policing. And what I always wanted was the notion that the police were never finished the task of doing what they had to do, that it is much of a community activity, that it has to take place with all these people working together to build something.”

Commentary source: Artworx TO