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At the bottom of the Lake Shore exit off the Gardiner is a large, dramatically lit statue with a proud lion at its base

At the bottom of the Lake Shore exit off the Gardiner is a large, dramatically lit statue with a proud lion at its base. What does it commemorate?—Mary Luz Mejia, High Park

The obelisk to which you refer is titled the Queen Elizabeth Monument, erected in 1939 to honour a visit by King George and to mark the original entrance to the QEW. It’s the work of Frances Loring, one half of a notorious bohemian sculpting duo known as “The Girls.” The pair lived and worked in an abandoned church near Mount Pleasant Cemetery and wowed the Toronto arts crowd with their wild parties while at the same time earning dozens of major commissions. But the QEW lion was almost not to be. Funding was scarce during the war, and many of the top local stone carvers, being of “enemy” Italian or German descent, were barred from government projects. Loring ultimately completed the chiselling alone, working under a tarpaulin as winter blew in from the lake. She considered the resulting chronic arthritis to have been worth the grind.

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