Pipe Man to be removed from river by end of next month


Pipe Man will be removed from the Muskoka River by the end of November and consultations will take place this winter to determine where to relocate the art installation.

The issue has been contentious. At its September meeting, Huntsville Council received the results of a survey conducted by staff, which found that a majority of those who responded to the survey wanted the art installation removed from the river. At that meeting, a motion was introduced that if passed would have asked the donor to take back his donation and remove the installation from the river at his cost. Council was divided. Half voted in favour of the motion and half against. It was then that Huntsville Mayor Scott Aitchison, referring to the motion on the floor as disrespectful to the donor, artist and all those involved in the creation of the art donation, cast his vote and killed the motion, promising to meet with the donor to try and come up with a better solution.

That meeting has since taken place and council at its October 23 meeting agreed to entertain an alternative solution, one that would remove the art installation from the Muskoka River by no later than the end of next month and pending consultation with the donor, artist and community at large, come up with an alternative location.

I like the Pipe Man, we own it municipally, it was given to us, we accepted it and I believe that there is a good spot for the Pipe Man that will do it justice Huntsville Councillor Nancy Alcock

Alcock noted that she felt uncomfortable with the way things went at the last council meeting regarding the Pipe Man. She said that at the Mayor’s invitation, she took part in follow-up discussions with those involved in its creation and ultimate donation to the municipality and felt the meetings had gone well.

“They were quite amenable to responding favourably and understood I think the situation we found ourselves in,” said Alcock. “It was an educational meeting, really informative and they felt strongly that they want to be part of removing it out of the water so that it’s done properly,” she said.

Alcock said getting input from the community for Pipe Man’s new location is critical. “They need to know that we do listen but we need to hear from the people that care about it going somewhere else in our municipality. Personally I’m not interested in hearing from people who want to just shove it back and give it back because it is important that we keep it from my perspective and it’s also really important that Pipefusion (the donor) feels they have a stake in the new location.”

Alcock also said that in discussions with the donor and those involved with the installation, they are amenable to exploring locations that do not involve water.

Aitchison reiterated that he did not think the motion in September was appropriate and that consulting the community on an alternative location while championing public art was a better way to go.

Aitchison said during discussions with the artist, donor and his staff there were some concerns about being ridiculed or maligned again, based on some of the comments on social media. “I assured them that if I was moderating the public forum that I would cut them off immediately, that there’s no place for that. I also assured them that there is absolutely no way that we will please absolutely everybody in this community and if that’s our goal then we should all quit,” he said. “I think that we’ll have to do our best to come up with a consensus.”

Aitchison said that there will be some suggestions. He also said that along with hearing that it was predominantly the location of the Pipe Man that people did not like, he’s heard that people felt there should have been public consultation. “So, here we go. If nobody shows up I guess they weren’t serious. I think they are and they’ll show up. I think people want their roads fixed even though they didn’t show up for that public meeting,” he quipped, adding that he thinks a consensus will be found.

In the end, council voted in favour of taking the winter season to consult with the community as well as the artist and donor of the Pipe Man and come up with an alternative location, expected to make its way back to the council table for final approval next March. The donor has also offered to remove the art installation, now owned by the Town, at his cost.

Update, October 26: Crews began work today to remove Pipe Man from the Muskoka River:

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  1. Karen Wehrstein on

    Okay everybody, suggestions for another location in 3… 2… 1…
    In the centre of the Empire Hotel lot, at least until something else gets built there.
    In the river behind the Summit Centre, closer to the edge of shore and attached to the bottom in such a way that the good side is always facing the near shore.
    Off Avery Beach, to mark off where the water gets deep enough to be over your head.
    …you can do better…

  2. Hunters Bay near the new trail extension….so it would be visible to the Hwy 11 traffic and the hikers / walkers… It would be nice if there were not two blank sides….

    • I thought of the two floating trail sections as well, the view is already semi-unnatural in its proximity to the highway, so I think the art would actually bring some vibrancy to that end of the bay and give people yet another reason to use the trails we’ve invested in.

    • I agree with Bill Wright’s suggestion for the relocation of Pipeman .
      My wife and I just walked the Hunter’s Bay Trail ( Great Trail ) on Friday Oct. 19 , prior to the opening on Saturday , Oct. 20 for the new extension of the floating walkway . I personally feel that this location would be an added incentive for all to get outside to enjoy the beauty of Huntsville .

  3. As long as it is OUT of the water, I like the Avery Beach idea or along the Hunters Bay trail as mentioned? Some place where it can be enjoyed up close and personal for those that love art. I still think incorporating a splash pad around it would make a lot of people super happy.

  4. I’d suggest it be mounted on a base on the grassy part where the dock ends near the bridge. About 50′ from where it was in the first place, except it’ll be on dry land. that way people who’ve hear about it can visit the area and spot it with a little bit of direction.

  5. Charlene Stewart on

    Make a rotary out of the Hanes Rd. and Centre St. 4 way stop and put pipe man in the middle with landscaping.

  6. If it gets put in the center of a Traffic Circle, wouldn’t that create an influx of people wanting to get selfies with the pipe Man? Might be a dangerous situation. – just sayin’

  7. As it is a floating creation the river is still a great location and eliminates potential vandalism–just where in the river ? Perhaps down river towards Fairy Lake and have it mark the outflow point where the outflow enters the river from the Mountainview Sewage Treatment Plant.

  8. Bill Wright’s choice of new location for “Pipeman” to be re-installed, near the new Trans-Canada Trail floating walkway parallel to Highway 11, is an excellent spot. It will be floating and swaying in the wind as was intended, it can be well away from the boat traffic bottleneck under the bridge, anyone who wants to see it close up can find the newly-linked trail and take their selfies from the walkway. Everybody who has read the Globe and Mail article (July 15, 217) or otherwise heard about Pipeman will be able to see it even if they were not intending to stop in town, and Huntsville will become even more known as the home of That Controversial Floating Statue Featuring Tom Thomson and Pipefusion. It’s a win-win. Maybe the installation would be completed in time for the grand opening of the trail extension?

  9. A land installation seems better than water for this tall metal structure and suggesting a spot in the river leading from Fairy Lake to Hunters’ Bay does not take into account the amount of boat activity in this already narrow body of water. The summer months are very busy with boat traffic and adding an obstacle to the water is unsafe and dangerous.

  10. Stan Dronseika on

    Yeaaaahh to the Trans-Canada trail location and idea! Well suggested Bill Wright. I’ll add a couple of my tax dollars to make this so.

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