Little Hercules – “A Labour of Love”

By Teresa Di Bartolo, Manager, Archtitectural Services

In June 2009, a new stone sculpture was installed at The Montreal Children’s Hospital (MCH) and now graces its main entrance on Tupper St. “Little Hercules”, as it is known, was sculpted, donated and installed by Dr. Harry Rosen, Professor Emeritus, Restorative Dentistry and Prosthodontics at McGill University and one of the MUHC’s very own. With over 50 years of service, Dr. Rosen has spent his entire career at the MUHC practicing the art of dentistry and inspiring countless numbers of students and residents with his passionate teaching.

His love for sculpting and working with stones grew out of a project of necessity. After acquiring a county home in the Laurentians in the early 60s, he set out to move boulders from the lake so as to build a wall to prevent erosion. “When moving stones to clear an area of my lake, I realized that each stone had its own beauty,” explains Dr. Rosen. “I would expose these stones and find that each had a beautiful size, shape, colour or texture, and when I put these stones together it created a composition that was even more beautiful than the stones themselves.”

He will quickly tell you that his interest in art derives from his love of dentistry, which, according to Dr. Rosen, is both “an art and a science”. He explains that, “In dentistry, first you deal with the task at hand by solving your patient’s problem. Then it takes a certain amount of creativity and restruc­turing, working with the elements that you are presented with, and in many instances, seemingly creating something out of nothing.”

The installation of the sculpture at the MCH was no easy feat, but it became a “labour of love” and a testament to the concept of “paying it forward.” Many different services, talents and trades were required for the realization of this installation. To quote Dr. Rosen, “A diversified team of enthusiastic volunteers was created for this project.” The fact is, many people were extremely touched and inspired by Dr. Rosen’s passion for his work and his commitment to getting Little Hercules to the MCH. Beginning with the transport company that moved the 6 foot, 2000 lbs. sculpture from Dr. Rosen’s chalet in the Laurentians to the MCH, to the quarry which donated, delivered and installed a one-ton stone to form the sub-base of the installation and right up to the nurseries that donated and planted the shrubs and flowers surrounding the sculpture, people were so moved by Dr. Rosen’s generosity, that the majority of them in turn “paid it forward” to the hospital by providing their services for free. Of course the whole project could not have been realized without the hard work, tenacity and determination of Ms. Sherry Goldstein who generously gave of her time and was instrumental in the coordination of all the work surrounding this installation. Her indefatigable energy, her selfless and unwavering commitment to this project, together with her ability to roll up her sleeves and take on any task required of her, ensured the success of this installation.

Little Hercules stands tall and transcends all race, religion and gender. Inspired by Dr. Rosen’s own grandchildren who wanted to be “stwong” just like grandpa, it depicts a child wearing a cap backward and lifting a barbell above their head. It symbolizes the courage and strength of our young patients who are often afraid to come to the hospital or who must face painful and invasive treatments. As a recognizable landmark, Little Hercules will provide much comfort and reassurance as it represents something that is both familiar and inspirational.

The statue was unveiled on Friday, September 26, 2009.

Watch the video of the transport and installation of Little Hercules can be viewed on Youtube (Dr.   Harry Rosen)