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The Doug Hepburn Statue Project

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The Doug Hepburn Statue Project

My name is Jason Beck and for the past 18 years, I've worked as the Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame in Vancouver. One of our more remarkable Honoured Members is the great world champion weightlifter Doug Hepburn. We've formed a small group whose objective is to have a statue created of Doug Hepburn to be placed near the BC Sports Hall of Fame's front entrance at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver. Abbotsford sculptor Norm Williams, whose previous works include the statues of Roger Neilson and Pat Quinn at Rogers Arena, has agreed to devote his artistic talents to creating a fitting statue of Doug. As of February 2022, Norm has begun the Hepburn statue, but we are looking for funding to cover costs to complete the project and have the statue unveiled.

For a quick backgrounder on Doug Hepburn and the statue project, please see this Global BC video: https://globalnews.ca/news/3884345/b-c-s-forgotten-sports-legend-how-doug-hepburn-became-the-worlds-strongest-man/




Who was Doug Hepburn and why does he deserve a statue?

Vancouver weightlifter Doug Hepburn was widely regarded as the strongest man in the world in the mid-1950s. At a time when performance enhancing drugs had not yet tainted weightlifting, Hepburn overcame numerous physical obstacles (crossed eyes, extreme shyness, and a club right foot which left him with no muscle below the knee on that leg) and little hometown support to win the heavyweight class of the 1953 World Weightlifting Championships in Stockholm, Sweden. He remains the only Canadian athlete to win a world weightlifting title to this day.

Beyond this, Doug Hepburn also won a gold medal in the heavyweight class at the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games while setting a Games record three-lift total of 1040 lbs.

Hepburn also set numerous Canadian and world records in various lifts:
- first man to bench press over 500 lbs
-hoisted a world clean and press record of 381 lbs
-first man to military press 400 lbs overhead
-first man to push press 500 lbs overhead

He continued to lift and set Masters lift records into his seventies. Many strength experts cite Hepburn as “the grandfather of modern powerlifting” and his revolutionary training programs are still followed by athletes today.

Nearly twenty years after his death, Doug Hepburn remains a legend in Vancouver today. Many Vancouverites witnessed his amazing feats of strength and recall them with enthusiasm. While working as a lifeguard at Trout Lake, Hepburn often carried the lifeguard boat on his back—a task that normally took 3-4 strong men. Others saw him rip licence plates apart with his bare hands, bend spikes, hold a 65-lb anvil by the horn in one outstretched arm, bend a parking meter parallel with the sidewalk, crush bottle caps between his knuckles or hoist six Vancouver Canuck hockey players off the ground singlehandedly.

A few of the more prominent accolades Doug Hepburn has received include:
-awarded the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s top professional or amateur athlete of the year (1953)
-inducted into Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame (1953)
-inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame (1955)
-inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame (1966)

Hepburn was a lifelong resident of Vancouver, a city that often sadly ignored him, one of its’ greatest athletes and characters. Perhaps now is the time to properly honour this Paul Bunyan-esque figure with a fitting tribute in bronze.




What do we hope to accomplish?

The goal for this project is to see Doug Hepburn honoured with a life-size or larger (‘Greek Heroic’ proportion 11/6 scale) bronze statue of the legendary strongman engaged in one of his signature heavy lifts—the overhead press. The statue will be placed upon a four foot high concrete pedestal. A series of plaques will be mounted onto the pedestal telling Hepburn’s remarkable story, as well as honouring major sponsors.

This statue will ensure that the underdog story of one of Vancouver’s great athletes will not be forgotten and new generations of Vancouverites and visitors to the city will learn and be inspired by the amazing journey of a shy introvert with vision distortion and a club foot who by sheer will and dedication transformed himself into the strongest man in the world.

Our working committee has obtained tentative approval for placement of the Doug Hepburn statue at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver.



What will be the cost?

The total cost to complete this project has been estimated at $150,000 CDN. This is considered a standard figure when creating a bronze statue in Canada. This figure includes all materials needed in the statue creation process, mould making and foundry work, sculptor’s commission, design and construction of the concrete base and plaques, site preparation and engineering, landscaping, and installation. Any funds raised over and above the $150,000 cost will be donated to the BC Powerlifting Association, BC Weightlifting Association, and BC Sports Hall of Fame.



How will donors to this project be recognized?

Major donors to the project (minimum $3000) will be recognized with their name listed on a bronze plaque mounted on the statue’s base. Donors contributing a minimum $100 donation will receive a limited edition Doug Hepburn T-shirt. All donors will be invited to attend the statue’s unveiling ceremony.



Norm Williams - Our Sculptor

Norm Williams graduated from the Vancouver School of Art (now Emily Carr University of Art and Design) with a four-year major in sculpture and is also a graduate of the University of British Columbia as a double major in Fine Arts. Williams studied under and assisted renowned sculptors Bill Reid, Jack Harmon, George Norris, Bill Koochin, and Leonard Epp on various projects. His work has been displayed in solo and group art shows throughout Canada and the United States. Pieces of his artwork now reside in private collections throughout Canada, United States, Germany, England, China, and Japan. At the present time, Williams stands as one of BC’s most accomplished sculptors. While growing up, he met Doug Hepburn on several occasions and was an admirer of the famed strongman. This project thus carries deep significance to Williams.

Some of Norm Williams’ more prominent works of public art include:

(2017) Bronze statue of hockey icon Pat Quinn at  Rogers Arena, Vancouver
(2015) Bronze statue for Vancouver Firefighters Burn Unit Building
(2011) Bronze statue of revered hockey coach & ‘Towel Power’ creator Roger Neilson at Rogers Arena, Vancouver
(2009) Bronze statue grouping celebrating Steveston’s fishing heritage at Gulf of Georgia Cannery









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Donations 

  • BARRY JOHNSON
    • $200 
    • 1 yr
  • PHI BULANI
    • $50 
    • 1 yr
  • Ian Smith
    • $25 
    • 1 yr
  • Al Anderson
    • $100 
    • 1 yr
  • Betty Tough
    • $200 
    • 1 yr
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Organiser and beneficiary

Jason Beck
Organiser
Langley, BC
Norm Williams
Beneficiary

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