The iconic giant fish sculpture in Kenora, Ont., is getting a facelift, led by this Alberta man

Scaffolding went up last week around the iconic, decades-old fish sculpture Husky the Muskie in the northwestern Ontario city of Kenora.

But before any panic could set in, city officials notified the public about an “extensive” facelift planned for the city’s de facto mascot.

Next week, a team of experts from Dinosaur Valley Studios in Drumheller will arrive from Alberta to begin the work on the 12-metre-high sculpture.

“We’ve done similar projects like this throughout Canada … so our reputation has been built over the years for doing this type of work,” said Frank Hadfield, the company’s president.

Hadfield, who has a paleontology background, has worked on everything from skeletal reconstructions to museum exhibits to film sets.

Over the years, he’s also worked on roadside attractions, including an eight-metre-long replica of a northern pike jackfish in Rochon Sands, Alta., and the Gimli Viking in Manitoba.

Hadfield, who grew up in Manitoba, said Husky the Muskie will be a special project because the sculpture is so beloved in the Ontario region.

Dinosaur Valley Studios’ Frank Hadfield, right, who’s leading the Husky the Muskie makeover, is shown lifting a dinosaur bone replica with CBC Edmonton host Tara McCarthy. (CBC News)

“I can remember as a kid driving to Kenora and waiting to see Husky the Muskie, the giant monument. So it has some sentimental value,” he said, adding most people he’s told about this project have heard of the sculpture or seen it.

“This thing is so well known across Ontario and even Canada.”

Hadfield said most of his business is focused on creating exhibits for natural history museums, but he’s recently been working more with the film industry and to restore monuments

Like Husky the Muskie, the Gimli Viking in Manitoba was created as a Canadian centennial project. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

“I get contacted a lot by family members, friends, and sometimes even by the towns themselves that hear about us,” he said, adding many people who reach out don’t realize there are many companies that do this kind of work.

Hadfield said it was his brother who kickstarted the project to give Husky the Muskie a facelift.

When his brother sent him a photo, Hadfield said he noticed the sculpture was in need of some touchups, so he reach out to the City of Kenora to offer some help.

Dinosaur Valley Studios will begin the fish sculpture’s restoration next week, and it will mostly consist of painting and touching up damaged parts of its surface, Hadfield said.

He’s quite a catch. Husky the Muskie reflects Kenora’s identity as a fishing and lake town. (Roadtripamerica.com)

Husky the Muskie was constructed in 1967 as a Canadian centennial project by the city’s Chamber of Commerce. It’s seen as a symbol to bring awareness to Ontario’s lakes and the prevention of water pollution.

It was originally built with materials such as nearly a tonne of steel, 36 sheets of plywood and 3,500 bolts, and has been restored twice — in the 1980s and 1990s.

“Husky the Muskie is an icon in the City of Kenora for residents and visitors,” said Mayor Dan Reynard in a statement. “The city is thrilled to begin work on this project to restore this important attraction in our community.”

The city said the project is a component of the 2019 Harbourfront Business Development Plan and is supported by the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, FedNor and the City of Kenora Municipal Accommodation Tax.

Up North7:00Kenora’s Musky the Huskie gets a facelift

Husky the Muskie turned 55 this year, and it’s in need of some TLC. Fortunately, Frank Hadfield specializes in exactly that. His company, Dinosaur Valley Studios, is known for its exhibit designs and upgrades. Hadfield spoke to the CBC’s Olivia Levesque to explain how he plans to freshen up the Kenora landmark.

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