Eminescu in Edmonton

Eminescu – the pride of all Romanians everywhere

“We are the true Eminescu’s contemporaries because we know more things about him than those who lived in his time” (Edgar Papu).

On the firmament of the Pantheon of the universal geniuses shines brightly, for over a century, the Morning Star of the Romanian poetry, Mihai Eminescu. In spite of the malicious commentaries/attacks made in recent times against the great poet by those who lack the qualities to otherwise make a name for themselves, the undoubting fact is that the literary legacy of the genius poet places him above all the venomous statements and reaffirms him as the greatest Romanian poet of all times.

Through his entire literary work, created during his short life (39 years), Eminescu attests the geniality of the Romanian people, its love for the ancestral land, and the richness of our national folklore. His works constitute a priceless legacy handed down to the nation he was born into, which he loved with all of his being. His writings are appreciated at a worldwide scale, being translated into an impressive number of languages, from the oldest ones (Greek and Armenian) to the most modern: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, etc.

Therefore, Eminescu became a universal poet, loved by all those whose entire being pulsates with the feelings of love for what is beautiful, regardless of their ethnic origin.

This sentiment of national pride, as well as the desire to make the great poet known to as many people as possible, constituted the basis for the efforts of the Romanian Diaspora from all over the world to honor his memory through a variety of cultural events or artistic representations, bringing him in their midst as a true national genius and symbol of the efforts for the national unity of the Romanian people. It is for this reason that Eminescu’s bust or his life-size representation can be admired on the banks of Lake Leman in Switzerland, in Vienna, Paris, Rezina (Republic of Moldova), Comrat (the Gagauz territory), New York, Montreal, Windsor and now in Edmonton, Alberta, one of the ten provinces of Canada.

The idea of having Eminescu’s monument erected in Edmonton is a few years old and is the brainchild of the professor and author Constantin Clisu, established with his family in Edmonton. In the beginning, the idea was casually mentioned to me and then, as time went by, it was embraced by many Romanians established in the city of Edmonton. I must confess that, although I embraced the concept from the very beginning, I gave it a lot of thought, knowing that such a project required time, much effort and especially a great deal of money. About a year ago, professor Clisu showed me the graphic representation of the monument, which I fell in love with. Around the same time, I remember Mr. Clisu quoting to me one of Tudor Musatescu’s sayings: “Father, the ideas are like the bedbugs that jump from person to person but only bite some of them!”

For awhile we explored the possibility of placing the monument on the grounds of the Provincial Parliament in Edmonton, Mr. Clisu telling me at some point that he had “picked” the appropriate spot. I, in turn, examined the area and identified the “ideal” place. Subsequent to our initial investigations, we realized that it would have been impossible to obtain the necessary approval for such a project. Then we concentrated on the most viable and practical solution, which now seems to be the obvious one, the placing of the monument in front of the Romanian Center, adjacent to Sts. Constantine and Elena Romanian Orthodox Church.

We then proceeded to constitute a Committee, inviting the distinguished physician John Slanina, architect Kenneth Jason Forner and his wife Magdalena and Mr. George Chiosa to join us. I remember when I asked dr. Slanina to join the committee, he replied: “I’ll contribute with a substantial sum of money for this project!” I then said to myself: “Here is a man who has the gift of reading other people’s minds and who is very receptive to the… bedbugs’ bites.”

The plan evolved in a series of phases: having resolved the first and the easiest one – the concept, – we then moved to the next one, anticipated from the very beginning to be the most difficult, – the collection of funds for the physical implementation of this project. In the meantime, Mr. Clisu arranged with his good friend, Professor Gheorghe Alupoaei of Vaslui, Romania, to start working on Eminescu’s bust in plaster. Last year, while vacationing in Romania, I sent Mr. Alupoaei $500 to cover the cost of the materials. All this was taking place even before we launched the first appeal for financial contribution to the Romanian people living in Edmonton. My confidence in their generosity, proven so many times in the past, was not disappointed. As a result, on the first Sunday I presented the project and made an appeal for donations we collected about $4000 and the following Sunday we collected $5000. In the meantime, Jason had completed the architectural documentation, dr. Slanina had bought and planted Eminescu’s linden tree, Mr. George Chiosa had his team ready for the cement pouring of the main column, and Behrends Bronze Inc. of Edmonton was making progress in the execution in bronze of the bust, the book and the plaques. Everything was working very harmoniously, as if under the guide of an invisible force which had already become an intrinsic part of the organizing committee.

This year, on June 15, we celebrate 122 years since Mihai Eminescu’s untimely passing. It is for us an emotional moment to mark this event by the unveiling of this monument, dedicated to the great poet, with an added feeling of patriotism and deep gratitude to all those who worked tirelessly and also to those who responded with the typical Romanian generosity in order to officially welcome the Demiurge of the Romanian poetry in the midst of our community here in Edmonton.

We salute him and say to him in our harmonious Romanian language:
”BUN VENIT LA EDMONTON, LUCEAF?R AL POEZIEI ROMÂNE?TI!”
(“WELCOME TO EDMONTON, THE MORNING STAR OF THE ROMANIAN POETRY!”)

Fr. George Bazgan

January, 2011

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