Begging Bear to Return in Fall

July 07, 2011 - News Release

Those of you who have been missing the Begging Bear sculpture normally standing outside the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre (MSAC) at the University of Guelph will be happy to learn the campus celebrity will soon return.

The bronze sculpture, which was knocked over in March and had to be removed for repairs, will be officially welcomed back to its rightful spot in a reinstallation ceremony Oct. 1.

Begging BearThe ceremony will be the highlight of events celebrating Culture Day at MSAC.

“The unveiling will be impressive,” said Judith Nasby, MSAC director and curator. “The sculpture suffered deep scratches and bruising of the bronze, but it will emerge looking refreshed.”

Created by Carl Skelton and installed in 1999, the Canadiana/Begging Bear, posed with one inviting arm outstretched, is an artistic metaphor for our native animals’ need for protection and our encroachment on the environment, said Nasby.

The 7½-foot-tall sculpture has also become a beloved icon to Guelph residents. The bear can often be found decorated or dressed up, making it a must-see for passersby on Gordon Street.

The bear was missed as soon as it was removed for repairs, said Aidan Ware, MSAC co-ordinator of education and development.

“It’s a testament to his value in the community,” said Ware. “People cared enough to write to local papers and email us asking after the bear. A suggestion was made that the bear be moved to a less accessible position, but it’s wonderful to keep him where he was, where he can continue to engage with the public.”

Artcast Inc. in Georgetown, Ont., is using steel pins to stabilize the bear, which weighs some 350 pounds. Rather than appearing to stand on tiptoe in the grass, the bear will stand on a two-inch-high bronze platform atop a four-foot-deep concrete base buried in the ground.

Besides the unveiling, Culture Day will include the creation and photographing of Guelph’s first “human quilt,” and a late-night lantern tour of the MSAC sculpture park and grounds.

MSAC has launched a special fundraising effort, "Share Your Care for Our Bear," to help pay for the repairs. For more information or to make a donation, email

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338,; or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982,

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1