We were honoured to work alongside landscape architect Tom Ridout in the creation of the Landscape of Nations memorial in Queenston Heights Park, Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, back in 2015.
The large outdoor permanent installation is a living memorial dedicated to the contributions and sacrifices made by the Six Nations and Native Allies on Queenston Heights and throughout the War of 1812. It also symbolises the position of the First Nations people at the core of Canadian history – and national affairs today.
HGH sourced and supplied large amounts of granite in different colourways for different elements of the project.
The history behind the memorial
We’re often asked which are our favourite-ever projects to have worked on but the truth is, they all have a special place in our hearts. Many have huge historical significance and honour important people from our past and present – and this project is no different.
The Battle of Queenston Heights took place on this site during the War of 1812 – during which Major-General Sir Isaac Brock and his Canadian aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Colonel John MacDonell, lost their lives.
The battle was all but lost until the Six Nations warriors – the Haudenosaunee – and Indigenous Allies arrived to help and ultimately turned the tide.
A look in more detail
Visitors to the memorial are greeted by a Turtle focal point – rendered in granite pavers on the main pathway. The history of the turtle is significant. In the Six Nations creation story, the earth was created on the back of a giant turtle when Skywoman fell from the sky. The story goes that Skywoman landed gently on the back of a turtle and was given dirt from the ocean floor to spread on its back, representing the ground we walk upon. The cutting to size of the granite pavers to create the turtle design – along with their installation – was an intricate process, equally complex and rewarding.
John Norton and John Brant
Near to the Turtle stand two bronze figures in Native clothing and feathered headdresses. These are the figures of John Norton and John Brant – the two Mohawk Chiefs, who led the native warriors into the Battle of Queenston Heights after Sir Isaac Brock died. The figures were created by Six Nations bronze artist Raymond Skye and we were honoured to supply the granite bases on which they stand.
The statues of Norton and Brant stand at the entrance to an archway of tall steel rods – The Longhouse. A longhouse is an architectural structure traditional to the Six Nations, which provides shelter – in fact, Six Nations people used to refer to themselves as `People of the Longhouse`.
The Wampum Belt Walkway
Starting at the Turtle and running beneath the Longhouse in the direction of the central installation of the memorial is a walkway composed of two parallel bands of granite – one light, one dark. These two granite bands represent the Two Row Wampum Treaty between the Six Nations and Dutch settlers in the early 1600s.
The First Nations used to record their treaties in the form of wampum belts of different coloured beads, rather than on paper. The two rows represent the Dutch ships and the canoes of the native people sailing together in mutual respect, the walkway representing their agreement to co-exist on parallel paths.
The Memory Circle
At the centre of the installation is The Memory Circle where the names of the Six Nations and Native Allies are carved into bronze medallions on the surrounding stones, shaped into a sunray pattern.
Tree of Peace
The memorial also features an Eastern White Pine tree that stands as a symbol of the Six Nations constitution, known as the Great Law of Peace. Our team worked around this and other precious 200-year-old-plus trees to install the large granite boulders for the bronze plaques that line the pathway leading to The Memory Circle.
The memorial was unveiled to the public in October 2016 and has become a much-loved visitor attraction, allowing people to learn more about, and reflect upon, the Six Nations people and their legacy.
From the intricacy of the work on the turtle paving area to managing the installation of the large boulders around the ancient trees – any damage of which incurred a significant fine – this was a complex, challenging and deeply rewarding project to be a part of. We’re proud to say it showcases our team’s capabilities – and sensitivity – in the field of landscape art and memorials to brilliant effect!