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Turning junk into a jewel – The Pride of Canada Carousel

June 2022

Carousels have been a popular amusement ride since the early 1800s, when John Joseph Merlin created a carousel in his Mechanical Museum in London in 1803. Originally serving as entertainment for London gentry and nobility, by the mid-1800s, they were a popular feature at fairs and carnivals.

The inspiration for Merlin’s creation was the early jousting traditions in Europe and the Middle East, where Knights would demonstrate their skill and horsemanship by galloping in a circle while tossing balls to one another.

Most modern carousels, or merry-go-round, traditionally features rows of wooden horses, lions, pigs or zebras, mounted on poles, with gears moving them up and down to simulate galloping. Sometimes fixed bench seating is also included for those with motion issues, with pre-recorded circus music playing as the ride operates. One of the big names in the carousel construction business is Charles I. D. Looff, a German master carver and builder of hand-carved carousels and amusement rides.

For the creation of the $10 million Pride of Canada Carousel in Markham, Ontario,, Canadian-born “junk art” sculptor Patrick Amiot was commissioned to create a unique carousel, intended to share the story of Canada with the new immigrant community in the city.

Standing some seven-metres-tall and 15-metres-wide, the Carousel’s 44 colourful Canadian characters, painted by Amiot’s wife Brigitte Laurent, and placed on a structure built by Daniel Horenberger, owner of the Chicago-based Brass Ring Carousel Company, pay tribute to some of our nation’s most celebrated wonders, iconic individuals and everyday Canadian life. Each of the characters, including a rideable Mountie centaur, a mermaid wearing a maple leaf bra, a dog in a bathtub, a sea-plane, a giant telephone and a human-sized skate, would fit right into a Tim Burton movie.

These unique creations were crafted from recycled and repurposed objects collected by Amiot, who traveled from coast to coast in Canada, collecting discarded metal from roadsides, antique shops and dumpsters. In fact, Amiot created so many characters, that some had to be left off the carousel. Instead, they are placed around the interior of the pavilion and outside by the small reflecting pool, which doubles as a skating rink in the winter.

Constructed over two years, with an additional two years for construction of the partially-enclosed glass pavilion, the Pride of Canada Carousel officially opened to the public on 28 June 2016.

The carousel is powered by a hybrid motor, with the ability to eventually run primarily on solar power.

Located at 8080 Birchmount Road, the carousel is open year-round, with rides starting at $3.00.

Also read my other articles about carousels:

Fantasy Fair Amusement Park has one of only two Looff Carousels still in operation in Ontario – Canadian Military History (militarybruce.com)

Heritage trains and carousels entertain visitors on the North Bay Waterfront – Canadian Military History (militarybruce.com)

The jewel of Centreville – the Centreville Antique Carousel – Canadian Military History (militarybruce.com)

Port Dalhousie’s Lakeside Carousel – A century of family fun – Canadian Military History (militarybruce.com)


Sources: The Pride of Canada Carousel – Downtown Markham, Markham to open $10M scrap-metal carousel on Canada Day | The Star, Introducing the Pride of Canada Carousel – Downtown Markham.

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.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/turning-junk-into-a-jewel-the-pride-of-canada-carousel/

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