St. Mary to be replaced

  • Oct. 15, 2004 1:00 p.m.

By Mariah McCooey–A new wooden statue will soon be replacing the weather-beaten roadside icon St. Mary. Skidegate resident Dick Bellis has just completed a replica of the spring’s guardian, and is now just waiting for a cement base for her.
“Storms are getting rougher,” said Mr. Bellis, which is why he wanted a more substantial anchor for the statue. Also, he said, because it’s made of resilient red cedar, if the carving is elevated, it could last as long as 75 years.
Dick’s brother, Ted Bellis, carved the original with a chainsaw about 35 years ago, Mr. Bellis said, and it took him only about an hour and a half to do the whole thing. Creating a replica was a little more time-consuming – it took Mr. Bellis five days to carve it, based on photos that were taken when St. Mary was new. Computer whiz Bill Mackay helped by creating three-dimensional images, said Mr. Bellis. He took pictures of the top, bottom, front, back and both sides of the carving, to help Mr. Bellis create a precise copy.
“It’s amazing how much she shrank over the years,” said Mr. Bellis, based on photos and measurements. “Also she was really rough and craggy at first, but has been smoothed by the weather.” And what’s happening to the original? Mr. Bellis said that he’s giving it to Eric Ross – who was there while his brother was carving it, and whose memory helped Mr. Bellis with the making of the new statue.
One other thing. There’s a new book out “Mary of Canada” that features our St. Mary on the cover. The book, by Joan Skogan, has stories and photos of similar St. Marys all over the country.

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