Global Arts - A Non Profit Organization

Eminescu - Place de la Roumanie - Montreal

Eminescu statue - detail

The dedication of the 'Romania's Square'/'Place de la Romanie' in a central district of Montreal, Canada, and the unveiling of the Eminescu statue on September 19th 2004 was undoubtedly an event of immense importance for Romania and its 'national poet'.

The event also marked the celebration of 100 years of Romanian presence in Canada and 25 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Eminescu in a chance
significant symbolic wrap

Mihai Eminescu by Vasile Gorduz

The pedestal is inscribed with a line quote from Eminescu's Ode in Ancient Meter translated into French . The line obscures the more obvious significance it has for Romanians, the full stanza below in A G Sahlean's English version is intended to give the casual reader the larger context.

I never thought I would learn how to die, ever...
Forever young, wrapped in my mantle
My eyes were affixed to the star
Of solitude.

The pedestal quote
Eternellment jeune,
enveloppe dans ma cape...'

Tense beginning of ceremony

The statue itself had been the subject of heated arguments among Canadian Romanians in the months preceding the event who would have liked to see a statue replicating Eminescu's iconic image from his youth. The historic fact that Eminescu died in an asylum and that the face inspiring the statue was copied from his mortuary mask didn't help the controversy.

Eminescu statue - detail


Compounding the disenchantment, a group of protesters chose the event to shout anti-communist slogans throughout the official speech of the Romanian delegation headed by then-president Iliescu. A good part of the early celebration was thus ruined. Various artists scheduled to performed declined to go on with it under the circumstance. A sense of the larger picture being missed was clearly shared by the majority of those present.

Romanian delegation
speaks over misplaced booing

Sahlean & Eminescu

With the Romanian delegation leaving earlier than scheduled, the show went on, albeit with a full and heavy heart, especially after someone threw a piece of cheese at the departing president, causing tense moments of security concerns.

A very special moment had Michael Eminescu--great-grand nephew of the poet (and look-alike) whom Mr. Sahlean brought from Nantucket, MA--tie a ribbon in 'Eminescu's linden tree'. A branch of the original had been spliced onto a young linden tree in a Montreal lab and transplanted into the square prior to the occasion.

Ribbon in Eminescu's linden tree

Sahlean recites Glossa

Preparations for the inauguration had been coordinated for months by Marc Marinescu, a Romanian-born Montreal fine artist who also organized two large exhibits for the Town Hall (read below). In the Square, the moments dedicated exclusively to Eminescu were opened by Iolanda Manolescu, translator of the poet into French, followed by A. G. Sahlean who brought his English tribute to the occasion by reciting his translation of one of the poet's most celebrated poems, Glossa.



A moment of subtle revenge against the political dissenters who had spoiled the celebration, was provided by septuagenarian actor Septimiu Sever. In a voice still booming, before reciting two Eminescu poems, he asked the crowd rhetorically 'Romanians,
'Are you Ancient Rome's descendants?'
The militant throng responded with cheers! The actor continued: 'Then... welcome to the Romanian square'! A new wave of hurrays followed. For all those in the know, however, these famous lines - quoted from on of Eminescu's most biting satires - evoked the less-than-flattering continuation:
"Nay, you gutless evil pen /You have made the world entire feel ashamed to call you 'men'!

Septimiu Sever

Sahlean, Marinescu, Eminescu nephew

A touching moment, certainly more in tune with the spirit of reverence that had brought most Romanians to the event, was provided by George Filip, Romanian poet living in Canada, who embraced the cold bronze feet of the statue.
An afternoon meeting at La Mairie de la Ville de Montréal (Town Hall of the City of Montreal) concluded the official proceedings. On the premises, two extensive exhibitions coordinated by the same Marc Marinescu were on display: one dedicated to the history of Romanian emigration to Quebec, the other to the life and work of Mihai Eminescu.

Ofelia Armasu, Bill Cross,
Mihai Eminescu, Iolanda Manolescu
Adrian G Sahlean

Eminescu statue now

A few years passed, and the wisdom of the larger perspective missed by some at the event finally settles in:
among the ninety plus diplomatic missions to Montreal, none can - like Romania - boast to have a Square in the City named after its own country, and a statue of their national poet.

No doubt, a symbol of the Romanian cultural heritage, around which the Romanian community can unite to continue and strengthen their tradition.


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