• Michael

Dancing Bear

Walking in the heart of the Byward Market you might come upon this whimsical Dancing Bear sculpture. It’s hidden in the Jeanne D’arc Courtyard and accessible through three walkways, two off York Street and one off Clarence Street. It’s nestled at the centre of a quite courtyard surrounded by several heritage buildings and newer condominium residences.

Created by Pauta Saila, a Nunavut based artist, the bronze Dancing Bear sculpture was installed in 1999. A plaque on the wall of the condominium near the Paper Papier store (a Byward Market favourite) includes the following description:

"Pauta Saila, an Inuit hunter, began carving in the 1950's to supplement his livelihood. He is widely known for his powerful, somewhat abstract, dancing bears. His father was a legendary Inuit leader on Baffin Island, where Pauta grew up learning about the polar bear first hand.
In memory of Charles Jennings, one of the pioneers of Canadian broadcasting, and his wife Elizabeth Jennings. Donated by their family."

This is one of my favourite sculptures in Ottawa. Every time I cut through this courtyard I always feel like I’m in a small European town. The old stone walls of the buildings in this courtyard are calming and the landscaped brick and stone walkways make this Dancing Bear the focal point of the courtyard. In the spring, summer and fall seasons, the City places benches on the perimeter of the sculpture along with flowers and other plants making this a great place to sit and take a break from the day or read a book. Also the fact that this courtyard is somewhat hidden from view and only open to the public from 7:30am to 11pm daily make this a very special place.

Location Address: 18 Clarence St, Ottawa, ON K1N 5M4, Canada