Cowichan News Leader

Updated: City renames part of a downtown street E.J. Hughes Place

Duncan council is poised to rename a downtown street after the city
Duncan council is poised to rename a downtown street after the city's late master-painter, E.J. Hughes. Others are gaining money for a statue saluting the landscape painter and war artist.
— image credit: News Leader Pictorial file

What's in a name?

Plenty to city councillors who've renamed part of downtown's Station Street after Duncan's late master artist E.J. Hughes, who would have turned 100 years old on Feb. 17.

Monday's council meeting saw three readings toward renaming Station's western dead-end, off Government Street, next to the courthouse, to E.J. Hughes Place.

Councillor Sharon Jackson expected a street-sing unveiling in mid-February.

"We picked that street basically because there's not much on it right now, but there's a significant development planned for it," she said.

"Also, not many people knew that was part of Station Street."

The Hughes Place idea was cheered by Janet Martinez, co-owner of downtown's E.J. Hughes Gallery.

"That's quite appropriate, and a great way to honour Mr. Hughes' memory," she said of the Order of Canada and B.C. recipient, who died at age 93 in 2007.

"It's good they want to name a street, in an isolated area, after E.J. Hughes."

Martinez wondered if perhaps a planned life-size statue of the landscape- and war-artist might be located near E.J. Hughes Place.

Hughes Place will include about 200 yards behind Wedgewood and Sherwood seniors' complexes.

"I still think Charles Hoey Park would be the best place for (the statue), but E.J. Hughes Place would create another dynamic area for our downtown. It's a wonderful thing to do.

"Victoria has (legendary painter) Emily Carr, and we also had one of the most famous Canadians here, and should certainly honour him," she said, noting the street salute perfectly twins Hughes' hundredth.

Mike Coleman, a former city mayor helping steer the statue project, agreed.

"Any public recognition of this iconic artist is a positive thing, so I applaud the city's steps in that regard."

Coleman wasn't very fussy about where the Hughes statue goes — he just wants it made.

"But it has to be in a place easily accessible to the public, and centered in the downtown area," he said, adding, "These things don't happen overnight."

The statue project's been simmering for several years as Coleman and others gained funds to prospectively have it created by sculptor Nathan Scott.

They've gathered about $30,000 in cash and kind so far toward the statue costing around $85,000.

"We just need one more substantial contribution, and we'll be a go.

"We have a number of irons in the fire with applications to Heritage Canada, and some private foundations," said Coleman, disappointed Victoria recently funded a Carr statue, but not the planned Hughes' work.

Meanwhile, Martinez hoped to have the Hughes piece erected during the watercolour painter's centenary, marked by the street renaming.

"We should share Ed with the world."

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