Ottawa Designs Memorial For The Wrong Guy

It's one terribly expensive case of mistaken identity.

When the Canadian city of Ottawa wanted to honor the late Jack Purcell, a local man who spent years doing volunteer work, it decided to commission public art. Purcell, a retired postal officer, was known as the "stick doctor" for mending hockey sticks and distributing them around the city's Centretown neighborhood. He died in 1966 and already has a park named after him.

As CBC News reports, however, few Ottawa residents could figure out how Purcell's life was connected to the new piece of art, made up of 10 large metal structures that resemble badminton rackets. And there's a good reason for that: it was developed with a different Jack Purcell in mind.

Ottawa officials admitted that the architectural company tasked to develop the project was thinking of a different Jack Purcell, a Canadian who was a world badminton champion.

“I’m sure people are wondering what in heaven’s names are these things,” Somerset ward councillor Diane Holmes told the Ottawa Citizen. “I think he just Googled ‘Jack Purcell’ and the only thing that comes up is the badminton player,” Holmes added, referring to the architectural company behind the design. “The Ottawa-hockey-stick-helper-out-of-kids doesn’t come up on Google."

Dan Chenier, the city's general manager of parks, culture and recreation, said in a statement that the design was changed once the mistake was discovered, adding that the pieces are now intended to represent "an urban forest."

The architect behind the design, Jerry Corush of CSW Landscape Architects Ltd., said that he altered his initial concept once he discovered the mixed-up identities. “We just didn’t stick our heads in the sands and say, ‘Well, we had a design and we’re going with it no matter what,'" Corush told the Ottawa Citizen. The rackets now no longer include strings.

According to CTV Ottawa, the "forest" cost the city more than $45,000.