Immigration Statue welcomes Visitors to Cape Breton

Immigration Statue

By Greg McNeil © Cape Breton Post

SYDNEY — A symbol of the importance of immigration to Cape Breton is now greeting new visitors to the island.

A dedication ceremony to mark the donation of this statue entitled “Land of Our Own” by Cape Breton native William Ernest Brown is scheduled for Wednesday at the Sydney Marine Terminal. The statue was placed along a walkway near the terminal last month. Steve Wadden - Cape Breton Post

The sculpture by Cape Breton native William Ernest Brown entitled “Land of Our Own” was erected near the Sydney Marine Terminal last month to salute the diversity of people who came to Cape Breton.

“It’s the symbol of an immigrant arriving in a new land searching for a home, a man and his son. When tourists come it makes things more interesting, so we see it not only as a memorial to immigration but it also helps to enhance the wharf area as a tourist attraction,” said Greg MacLeod, who is organizing a dedication ceremony Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the marine terminal. Brown will be available for a meet-and-greet at the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavillion following the ceremony.

Brown donated the eight-foot bronze statue to the people of Cape Breton after his grandniece Kelsee Peters and grandnephew Craig Peters discussed his Cape Breton roots with MacLeod.

“He has been a sculptor and wanted to put something somewhere but it meant a lot more to him that he would have it in Cape Breton since he was from here,” said Craig Peters, a recent graduate from Cape Breton University.

“I think it is incredible and great for Cape Breton. It’s great that the people who come off the ships will get to see it. But mostly I’m just happy for him because I know how much it means to him.”

Brown was born in Sydney in 1929. He studied art at Holy Angels Convent and continued to paint until he finished high school.

His family opened Brown’s Jewellery on Charlotte St., the current site of London Jewellers. Brown worked in that store while studying gemology.

At age 29, he went to work in the jewelery business in Montreal, then moved to New York a year later to forward his career in the field.

In 1969, he moved to California and opened a business specializing in customized, personalized stationery.

He built that business from one store in Los Angeles to 35 franchises from New York to Jakarta, Indonesia, and boasted Hollywood clients like Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, Bob Hope, Lucille Ball and Cher.

In 1992, he took an interest in sculpting, joined a sculptors’s club and entered his first piece in the National Society Competition.

He then found himself back in New York to study marble carving before travelling to Italy to work and study.

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