Often referred to as “Symbol of Multiculturalism”, “Monument to Multiculturalism” by Francesco Perilli, is located in front of Union Station at 65 Front Street West and was unveiled on July 1st, 1985 by then Toronto mayor Arthur Eggleton. Fifty eight years after the opening of the “new” Union Station, this piece fits seamlessly into the Beaux-Arts style of architecture that characterizes the building.
Although the “main square” of a city can traditionally be seen as its heart, the central train station probably deserves similar respect. The title of this statue reinforces what Toronto has become and is the first piece of public art seen by those arriving to the city by rail.
In 1983 Perilli came to Toronto and gave a talk on the topic of multiculturalism. Here is an excerpt of his speech from his website:
“…multiculturalism is not only positive, but it is a means of developing interreligious dialogue and peaceful collaboration among men of different ancestries and convictions. And that because its own objective is in fact aimed at overcoming all hatred, both long-standing and nascent. In other words, multiculturalism is conceived as contrary to every racist attitude and fanatical fundamentalism; it stands against every act of terrorism; it is opposed to any evidence, great or small, of overt struggle between individuals, from violence to conflict to genocide; it is adverse, in short, to any supremacy of one over the other that can lead appallingly, as has sometimes and even recently occurred, to the moral indecency of ethnic purging. Multiculturalism is also contrary — I repeat — to every homologation and egotism, political as well as economic and, in a broad sense, cultural.”
About the statue itself, Perilli writes:
“I conceived the monument to be cast in bronze, and, stylistically, in a postmodern vein. It represents a man who, at the center of the globe, joins two meridians; while the remaining meridians are held aloft by doves, a peace symbol in themselves. Moreover, the doves are symbolically meant to represent the cultural vitality of the people who, with the man, construct a new world, under the banner of dialogue and mutual respect.â€
A part of the inscription on the side of the statue reads “This monument, a tribute to multiculturalism, was presented to the city of Toronto on the occasion of its sesquicentennial by the national congress of Italian Canadians on behalf of the Italian Canadian Community.”
photos by Shaun Merritt.