A Darling tribute

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Everything that Lyle and Marie McCann loved is now embodied in the city’s newest public statue. A ceremony was held on Sunday at Grandin Pond Eco Park to unveil Darling, a 1,200-kg granite and bronze sculpture of two loons displaying their outspread wings together. The occasion would have been Marie’s 85th birthday. Many members of the family were present, along with numerous local politicians, city staffers, and members of the public.

“My parents were gracious and humble people. They would be over the moon for an opportunity to celebrate their love for each other, St. Albert, nature and their family with a public art installation in the community they loved,” explained Bret McCann.

Darling is the term of affection that his parents always called each other, he added, calling them “kindred spirits.” Lyle, Bret continued, was an expert at identifying trees while Marie had perfected a fine loon call.

The Grandin pond is located only a few blocks away from the McCann’s family home. The natural area is a hidden gem where birdwatchers and solace seekers can walk around and enjoy a moment of peace and reflection away from the bustling traffic along the surrounding commuter routes of Grandin Road and Gervais Road.

The work was created by Vancouver-based artists Mary-Ann Liu and Paul Slipper. It was because of how much the McCanns loved nature and especially birds that the design concept was chosen. Funding for the artwork came from the unclaimed $60,000 reward that the family had organized to be offered to anyone who came in with tips on the couple’s disappearance back in 2010.

“The community has been saddened by the loss of the McCanns as friends and neighbours. This artwork is a fitting way to honour and respect them as individuals and as a St. Albert family,” Mayor Nolan Crouse said.

Each of the McCanns’ children and grandchildren chose one word to describe the couple, and those words were then inscribed into the sculpture. The McCann family also chose a variety of vegetation that will surround the base of the sculpture after it is permanently installed in the spring. Darling will stay in storage over the winter until then.

As for the family, they are taking the moment as a chance to nurture their healing process and consider another part of this difficult time of their lives to be closed.

“We are turning the page and moving onto the next chapter,” Bret McCann said at the unveiling.

He also wanted to add his and the family’s “heartfelt” praise and appreciation for Crouse, remarking on how supportive and helpful he was to them behind the scenes throughout the last seven years.

“He was really excellent to work with. I’ve always been really impressed with him.”

Lyle and Marie McCann were last seen alive in 2010. Travis Vader was convicted of manslaughter for their deaths earlier this year but the couple’s bodies have never been found.

The public art unveiling was Crouse’s last official event as mayor of the city.

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Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.