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Historic Oakville statue stolen, The Toronto Star

By Jim WilkesStaff ReporterMon., Jan. 1, 2007

For a long-dead poet and artist, it was the unkindest cut of all.

A 5-metre bronze statue of iconic Ukrainian Taras Shevchenko, erected in an Oakville park named for him in 1951, has been chopped off at the feet by vandals and carted away.

Why? The president of the foundation that administers the park and a downtown Toronto museum dedicated to Shevchenko's life fears it's as simple as thieves hoping to cash in on the value of the statue for scrap metal.

Maybe $10,000, maybe more.

"It's a terrible tragedy, not only for the Ukrainian-Canadian community, but for Canada as a whole," said Bill Harasym. "He was one of the greats of recent cultural history.

"He was born in feudal slavery and orphaned by the time he was 11 years old, but he rose to become the greatest son of Ukraine and is considered the father of the modern Ukrainian language.

"He was a humanist, someone who could have lived in the lap of luxury with his talent, but he never deserted his people. He lived a very frugal, hard life."

In July 1951, 90 years after Shevchenko's death, more than 20,000 people gathered at the park, on Dundas St. W. near Fourth Line, to see the Soviet-made statue unveiled.

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