Penticton was home to the largest grizzly bear sculpture in North America, but now it’s been driven to a secret location in northern B.C. before it’s revealed to a city as a surprise.

Gerry Houghton, the artist, was commissioned by someone who lives in the city. He would not reveal the name of a client who has asked to stay anonymous until the sculpture is unveiled in spring.

“The size alone is kind of breathtaking,” said Houghton.

“I’m not looking for a Guinness World Record or anything, but this needs to be seen from 200 feet away, so it has to be big.”

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From the tip of the sow’s nose to her tail, she is 20 feet long; from her feet to the cubs that will be attached to her back, she will tower 17 feet tall.

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Creating something that monumental for a town was no easy feat for Houghton.

“It’s a life form so it has to be fairly accurate, so that’s been a bit of a challenge,” he said.

“What you do is you make a maquette, and you sculpt that, then the client examines that and he is obviously very familiar with grizzly bears. You transfer the size as any measurement I take with the callipers on the model I transfer that and times that by one point two and that gives me the dimensions to do there,” Houghton explained.

“And it’s just a matter of back and forth and it’s a lengthy process, but if you stay true to the form everything works out.”

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Made up of aluminum, cardboard, polyurethane foam and mortar, the sculpture piqued the curiosity of looky-loos in Penticton.

“When I was having this construction going on, the kids over here in kindergarten had a contest to see what it was and some said a dinosaur and a polar bear,” said Houghton.

“So it’s been fun that way — a lot of interest in the community.”

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The next stop for the bear: the top-secret Northern B.C. town where her two cubs will be attached and she will go into hibernation until her unveiling in spring.

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