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PHOTOS: New ‘Grizlee’ watching over White Rock’s East Beach

Community’s enjoyment of bear sculpture ‘meant the world to my dad’

A bear on White Rock’s waterfront drew a crowd last weekend, but it’s unlikely to draw the attention of conservation officers anytime soon – except perhaps for admiration purposes.

White Rock residents and politicians joined relatives of Lee Slavin on East Beach last weekend (May 14) for the unveiling of the new ‘Grizlee’ sculpture.

The five-foot tall, 2,000-pound stone bear was first installed more than two decades ago, donated by Slavin’s father, Frank, after Slavin was killed in a March 1998 car crash.

Over the years, it has become something of a meeting place on White Rock’s beach. Its location is even pinned on Google Maps, where reviews describe it as “a guardian watching over the beach front walkway” and “a favorite for kids and adults alike.”

When plans to replace Grizlee were announced three years ago, Frank Slavin told Peace Arch News it was due to damage sustained over 20 years of weathering.

READ MORE: White Rock’s ‘Grizlee’ sculpture to be replaced

“The nose is damaged so bad,” he said. “I could fix it with cheaper materials, but it’s not the thing to do.”

The bear, carved in China, is meant to look across the water towards Point Roberts, “where our family camped every year growing up,” Slavin’s younger brother, Cory, told PAN.

“It’s called Grizlee because my dad referred to Lee as a Grizzly bear,” Cory said Friday (May 20).

He noted that a bench installed near the bear by his dad is dedicated to his mom, who died just a few weeks before Lee.

On Facebook, Cory described the new bear – carved by the same company as the original sculpture – as “another beauty” and also a great tribute to his father, who passed away in August of last year.

He attended the installation event with his son, Tristan, and daughter Jenna-Lee, who was named after his brother. It was “all in all a fabulous day,” he told PAN.

“Very happy that some residents were out to see (the) unveiling,” Cory continued. “They are the only ones that really count. The ones that enjoy it daily. That meant the world to my dad.”
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Tracy Holmes

About the Author: Tracy Holmes

Tracy Holmes has been a reporter with Peace Arch News since 1997.
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