Bob and Doug McKenzie sculptures installed in Rogers Place
Alberta Ave resident Ritchie Velthuis’ bronze sculpture of the iconic Bob & Doug McKenzie SCTV characters has been in the works since 2012-2013.
Second City Television (SCTV) was a Canadian sketch comedy show that ran from the late 70s to the mid-80s. The characters Bob & Doug McKenzie were played by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas. In fact, those characters were developed in Edmonton when the show was filmed here. Originally shot in Toronto, it was cancelled.
“Dr. Allard, philanthropist of Edmonton, owned ITV. He agreed to fund the series as long as it was filmed in Edmonton,” says Velthuis.
Eight years ago, the non-profit SCTV Committee, Paul Allard, and Avenue Magazine started a petition to have an artist create sculptures of the cast, and an RFP was sent out. Velthuis was successful in his bid for the project.
“I spent the summer creating small models for the six original characters.”
The idea was that the original cast would be sculpted out of bronze. But after Velthuis made the miniatures, the decision was made that it would be far too costly to make all six characters. Instead, Velthuis suggested he sculpt Bob and Doug McKenzie since they’re iconic.
When funding was secured, he started working on the sculptures in 2016.
“It took approximately six months in my studio working on it intensely,” he says. He worked on fine tuning the characters of the sculptures for another three months.
He adds that it was a little intimidating to sculpt famous people. “Part of them [Moranis and Thomas] agreeing to have it done was giving input in the process. It was super helpful and it was good to have their notes. They were very pointed and very direct, which I appreciated.”
The process involved in creating these sculptures was rather involved and had Velthuis working in layers. First he carved Styrofoam on a metal armature. Then, he sculpted powdered clay, wax, and petroleum jelly.
When he was finally done, off the sculpture went to Bronzeart Casting in Calgary for 18 months.
“There were very little changes—it was a testament to their mould making,” he says. “Once it was welded back together, I painted it and did the patina.”
Velthuis has sculpted for over 30 years, but doing this was a particularly unique opportunity.
“As an independent artist, I’d been practicing and waiting for this opportunity,” he says. “I had applied for other public art pieces and was unsuccessful. I wanted to create my own bronze piece.”
He adds, “I was grateful I wasn’t rushed. The likenesses changed many, many times until I was satisfied.”
In late March, the sculptures were installed at Rogers Place in the entrance of the Winter Garden, which Velthuis says seemed suitable. Unfortunately because of COVID-19, the unveiling had to be postponed.
“Originally, the unveiling was supposed to be at the end of March, and I was supposed to meet the actors,” Velthuis says. But although he was understandably disappointed, “The outpouring of positive responses was amazing and I’m glad I brought some brightness to people.”
Featured Image: The iconic Bob and Doug McKenzie are now installed at Rogers Place Winter Garden. | Marc J Chalifoux Photography