The Unsolved Mystery of Leg-in-Boot

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The year 1887.

They found a human leg trapped in a boot. As the story is remembered, the leg washed up on the shore of False Creek. No one claimed it, even though it was prominently displayed in the local police station for all to view. No one showed up or even appeared to be interested in the unusual display. It remains an unsolved mystery.

The police station is no more. Yet, the narrative remains alive, over 100 years later,in the name, Leg-in-Boot Square. And now there is great interest in the current display – Acoustic Anvil: A Small Weight To Forge The Sea.

Leg-in-Boot Square, once a thriving part of False Creek’s industrialization, has taken on a more serene, even sedate, orientation. The chaotic mishmash of forges, boat-builders and stevedores, has been replaced by walkers, runners and bikes that share the Vancouver Seawall. It is a place of respite with benches offering a view of Vancouver’s ever growing skyline and the sailboats berthed at the nearby marina.

Art remembers and gives voice to our histories and legends. This month, the “Acoustic Anvil: A Small Weight to Forge the Sea” gives a hearty nod to Vancouver 1887. Maskull Lasserre has created a massive sculpture, with measurements of approximately three-by-eight-metres, to celebrate False Creek’s industrial era.

The Acoustic Anvil arrived on Thursday, July 19th at 10:30. Dramatic, vibrant, solid – those were the words that came to me when I reached out my hand for the first touch. Then I heard the music.

“What is the sound? Where is it coming from? Where does it transport you.”

12 thoughts on “The Unsolved Mystery of Leg-in-Boot

  1. Wow. I was still contemplating the leg in the boot, when I got to the sound in anvil. I love Vancouver, and Vancouverites, especially you.

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    • And we love your back, Cindy. The first week of August the Mural Festival will be in full swing in Vancouver. Have you noticed there is an explosion of public art around the world – art that comes to where we are. We live in a complex world – art has a way of bringing us together. Hugs coming your way.

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  2. Thank you for this interesting history lesson and the photos that go along with it. How many times we miss learning what has happened in our very neighborhood. \i had not heard about the “Leg in Boot” story and now I am wiser because of this blog. Thank you. No one claimed the leg and boot. I wonder, did it come from across the ocean?

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    • I am so pleased you enjoyed this post. No one knows where the leg-in-boot came from. It just showed up on shore one day. There really wasn’t that much of an investigation, but I surmise that the leg originated close by because it was intact when it was found. I try to imagine how busy the square must have been a century ago, much like the North Vancouver Shipyards.

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    • I am delighted that you joined me, Gallavanta. Every step we take has another story hidden in time. I agree – I too hear the echoes of the shipyards as well as the sea – the link between continents. Hugs!!!

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  3. That music is a little scary. Cool sculpture though. Feet in shoes wash up on our shores often. Maybe they need to be prominently displayed in local police stations, here, too.

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    • It is a little scary, especially since the anvil picks up the sounds from passing bikes and walkers. The sculpture has added colour to the Vancouver Seawall. This is a Biennale project so I am uncertain as to how long it will be displayed. A couple of years ago we had huge jelly beans along Charleston Park. Alas, they have been moved, but I have the photos. Which it a reminder that, as Susan Sontag once wrote, “All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.” Thank you for stopping by and for your comments – very much appreciated.

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  4. That’s fabulous. I lived in the False Creek area in the mid 1970’s. Although the seeds of change had been planted, the industrial era’s filth caused my skin to rot, and I had to move. I’d love to see it today!

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    • Oh Resa! So much has changed since the 1970’s. Even in the early 1980, this area was in need of attention. Change came in 1986, with Expo and we haven’t looked back since. You would be amazed by the transformation. Emily Carr University has moved from Granville Island to new digs on Great Northern Way. Stay tuned for photos of the new building. South East False Creek is now under construction. Cities never stand still. I love Jane Jacob’s idea: “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”

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    • I agree wholeheartedly – legends and mysteries create a respect, as well as an understanding, of the past. We remember through stories – they allow us to laugh, engage, heal and recognize that we are belong to the larger, grander story of humanity. Your posts are a testament to the extraordinary power of story. One of my most favorite quotes is by Canadian author, Richard Wagamese: “All that we are is story. From the moment we are born to the time we continue on our spirit journey, we are involved in the creation of the story of our time here. It is what we arrive with. It is all we leave behind. We are not the things we accumulate. We are not the things we deem important. We are story. All of us. What comes to matter then is the creation of the best possible story we can while we’re here; you, me, us, together. When we can do that and we take the time to share those stories with each other, we get bigger inside, we see each other, we recognize our kinship – we change the world, one story at a time…”

      Always appreciate your visits and our conversations.

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