The Lady stands at the corner of Lonsdale and 13th in the heart of North Vancouver.
Whenever I pass by this magnificent creature in bronze, I pause for a few minutes to read the plaque at her feet and say a few words of greeting. I mirror her gaze towards the Burrard Inlet and allow my thoughts to linger in the past when camels lived in our Province. My visits are a tradition that I have kept ever since The Lady’s first appearance in 2017.
Camels once traversed the Cariboo, an intermontane region of British Columbia, centered on a plateau stretching from Fraser Canyon to the Cariboo Mountains. The camels first arrived in May 1862 in response to the Gold Rush. They came from the ancient country of Bactria that was positioned between the mountains of the Hindu Kush and the Amu Dary in what is now a part of Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
At two meters in height, The Lady, created by Vancouver-based sculptor, Myfanwy MacLeod, pays respect to the last known surviving captive camel in British Columbia who passed in 1896. She used artistic license when creating The Lady as a dromedary, or one humped camel, while the original camels were two-humped.
The plaque is an enlarged bronze replica of the actual advertisement that ran in the March 1, 1862 edition of the local British Colonist newspaper, announcing the sale of twenty-five camels at low prices, to use as pack animals on the Gold Rush routes. Expectations were high for success of this initiative, but history has recorded that the camels were unsuitable for our geography. They were put out to pasture and some were able to escape into the wilds.