Ever since I was child I can remember seeing a large metal giraffe outside of a building by
the railroad tracks in Merritton. Now he is in Western Hill on the roof of a welding business. I’ve really grown to love this giraffe and it always makes me smile when I drive past him. Can you tell me more about him?
Dear Giraffe Fan,
Great question! I love this giraffe too! Here is what I have found out…
Firstly, his name is Gerry. Gerry was created by American sculptor Jack Kearny in Provincetown, Massachusetts back in 1973. Gerry is 13 feet tall and weighs a whopping 1,200 pounds (which is not even half the average weight of an adult male giraffe by the way).
Jack Kearny was born in 1924 in the United States and died in 2014. He was famous for creating sculptures out of recycled pieces of metal, more specifically, car parts and bumpers. Kearny received an education in art but learned his welding skills while in the United States Navy during World War II. During his service Kearny was responsible for performing underwater repairs on naval vessels. Aside from Gerry, Kearny has completed many other sculptures, including a horse that was owned by Johnny Carson and an elephant that has a home at the Chicago Zoo.
Gerry first made his trip to Canada when Ron Catena purchased him for $4,300 in Cape Cod. Catena transported Gerry to St. Catharines where he became a resident at Cat’s Caboose. Eventually Catena needed more space in the restaurant and Gerry was just taking up too much room. Gerry became somewhat of a wanderer after that. He was seen at various places all over the Niagara Region.
In 1987 Gerry made a home in Niagara-on-the-Lake outside of Silks restaurant. Unfortunately he stirred up quite the controversy. Many people, including the town council, felt that Niagara-on-the-Lake was not the place for Gerry. With all of the hullabaloo surrounding his being in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Gerry moved back to St. Catharines where procured a place in front of Chico’s Bar on Hartzel Road. This is likely where you remember seeing Gerry for many years. Gerry arrived to a warm welcome. Even the mayor was thrilled to have him back so he planned a ribbon cutting ceremony in Gerry’s honour.
Although some citizens of St. Catharines have complained over the years about Gerry being an eyesore, in 1988 the St. Catharines Standard called him “St. Catharines’ favourite son”. Unfortunately in 1989, Gerry was intentionally run over by a patron of Chico’s bar. After running him over multiple times, the vigilante left Gerry laying in pieces by the railroad track behind the bar. Gerry’s assailant was caught and fined $500, however it cost $9,000 to repair Gerry. This is where the Hudson family of Hudson Welding came into the picture. Thanks to them, Gerry’s head was reattached and the rest of his body was repaired. Since his rescue, Gerry has remained a member of the Hudson family and has been a fixture in West St. Catharines, sitting atop Hudson’s Welding, happily greeting passersby.
To this day Gerry gets lots of attention. People send the Hudson’s donations for his repair and polishing. At Christmas he gets lit up with a red nose like a reindeer. He has even received letters and cards in the mail.
So next time you are at the four way stop on St. Paul Street West and Vansickle Road, make sure to say hi to Gerry!