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Monument to Terry Fox symbolically carries on the run he was forced to abandon

May 2021

A little east of Thunder Bay, Ontario, is a monument to Terry Fox, the 21-year-old Canadian amputee who mounted the Marathon of Hope, an attempt to run across Canada in 1980, to raise money for cancer research. Starting on 12 April in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Terry set out to run a marathon a day, all the way across Canada. Due to his prosthetic leg, Terry’s running style was half running, half hopping.

Tragically, on 1 September 1980, after running 3, 339 miles over 143 days, Terry was forced to halt his run when the cancer that took his leg returned, this time infecting his lungs.  Although he vowed to resume the run when he’d recovered sufficiently, Terry never did.

Terry Fox died on 28 June 1981, at the age of 22.

On 26 June 1982, one year after his death, a statue of Fox was unveiled along Highway 17, just east of Thunder Bay. Dedicated to the memory of Terry Fox and his Marathon of Hope by Governor-General Edward Schreyer, the monument was originally located approximately 2½ miles west of where Terry actually ended his run.

The bronze nine-foot high statue, set on a granite base, is an image of Terry in mid-stride, heading west, symbolically allowing Terry to carry on the Marathon of Hope westward; the portion of his journey that cancer prevented him from doing during his short life. 

In 1990, a small white, four-by-four post was placed at the actual spot where the Marathon of Hope ended by the Ministry of Transportation Ontario (MTO), but this marker was removed by the MTO in March 2016, necessitated by the widening of Highway 17. This marker is still in storage today, with no plans to return it to its original location. In its place, two memorial signs marking the 3,339-mile point of Fox’s journey were added on either side of the now divided highway.

The highway widening project in (2016) also necessitated the moving of the Terry Fox statue the statue to a dedicated park five miles further west, overlooking Highway 17 from a elevated plot of land, offering a panoramic view of Thunder Bay and its surroundings. The statue is co-located with a Tourist Information Centre.

Honours to Terry Fox:

During Terry’s all-too short life, he received two prestigious honours. He was made a Companion of the Order of Canada, Canada’s highest civilian award, in September 1980, making him the youngest Canadian to receive the honour. The Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia, Terry’s home province, named him to the province’s highest award, the Order of the Dogwood.

In the years since his death, numerous roads, buildings and schools have been named in Terry’s honour, including the former Port Coquitlam High School, from where he graduated in 1976, which was re-named Terry Fox Secondary School in January 1986.

Numerous statues depicting Terry Fox are situated across the country. A mountain the the Canadian Rockies has been named in Terry’s honour, as has the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker, CCGS Terry Fox.

A fountain installed on the grounds of Rideau Hall, the Ottawa home of the Governor General of Canada, in 1982, is called the Terry Fox Fountain of Hope.

Terry is currently one of eight finalists whose portrait will adorn a re-designed Canadian $5 note.

Sources: Terry Fox Memorial and Lookout – Wikipedia, No plans to display post that once marked end of Terry Fox’s historic run: MTO – TBNewsWatch.com, Mileage 3,339 Adds to Legend of Terry Fox | Northern Ontario Travel, Terry Fox – Wikipedia, Visitor Centres – Thunder Bay Tourism (visitthunderbay.com), Terry Fox Run.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

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