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‘Wait for Me, Daddy’ designs to be unveiled in January

The City of New Westminster will soon select an artist to produce a tribute to an iconic Second World War photo.

Wait For Me, Daddy was shot by Claude P. Dettloff, a photographer with The Vancouver Province newspaper, on Oct. 1, 1940, and features The British Columbia Regiment marching down Eighth Street near Columbia.

While the photo was being taken, a boy, Warren “Whitey” Bernard broke free from his mother and reached out for the hand of his father, Private Jack Bernard.

The photo so powerfully captured the feeling of the time it was subsequently featured in publications around the world.

To commemorate the photo, a task force chaired by Coun. Lorrie Williams was struck to determine what form the public art honouring the photo would take.

It is not included in the budget for the Anvil Centre, which the city is building along with an eight-storey office tower at the same corner.

City arts and culture manager Greg Magirescu said the city received 15 submissions from artists in response to its request for proposals for the work, which will be installed at Hyack Square.

The criteria requires the artist to show the mother, father and son “realistically” in three bronze statues.

But it was up to the artist’s creativity to determine how the other elements of the photo, such as the long line of soldiers heading off to war and the incline of Eighth Street, would be incorporated.

“That’s probably what would have been the greatest challenge to come up with a way to depict the entirety of the picture and the emotional impact of the photograph,” said Magirescu.

The task force is paring the submissions down to three, to present at its next meeting on Jan. 11. That will be the first time Magirescu will get a look at them.

“I’m really curious. I’ve heard there were some very strong proposals, some really excellent ones,” said Magirescu. “I don’t think it was an easy task to select the top three.”

A piece of public art in Hyack Square, titled Ab Ovo - The Fertile Nest, will have to be moved within the square to accommodate the new sculpture.

Magirescu said one of the neat things about the Wait For Me, Daddy project is the new work will end up being almost at the exact spot as the family was when the picture was taken.

“That was one of the compelling rationales of depicting the three individuals as realistic rather than impressionistic,” said Magirescu.

“That makes it even more powerful for anyone that knows that photograph to say this is where it happened.”

City council has given the project an initial budget of $300,000 but hopes to get sponsorship or partners to reduce those costs.

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