Bob and Doug McKenzie drop into Edmonton at exactly the right time: a pandemic

Bob and Doug McKenzie aren’t exactly practising proper physical distancing in their new statue. 

On the other hand, they’re pretty much immortal, so, what’s the risk, eh? 

The painted bronze, which appeared with little fanfare earlier this week in Ice District, is the work of Edmonton artist Ritchie Velthuis. A pandemic unveiling was not the plan. 

“There were other plans, but I’ve surrendered to it all,” said Velthuis. “The reaction has been overwhelming. People are thanking me for bringing some light in a dark time.” 

The work was five years in the making. It weighs between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds and features a painted patina surface. It is a street-level tribute, of course,  to beer-drinking, wise-cracking, flannel-wearing hoser brothers Bob and Doug McKenzie, played on television in the 1980s by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas. 

Edmonton’s ITV studios played host to SCTV after the production moved from Toronto.

“Bob and Doug have cross-generational appeal,” said Velthuis. “There are some like me who remember them from the 1970s and ‘80s. And then they got a cult following when the movie Strange Brew came out.” 

The task of getting those familiar faces—Bob’s…

Bob McKenzie, by Edmonton sculptor Ritchie Velthuis

…and Doug’s—

Doug McKenzie, by Edmonton sculptor Ritchie Velthuis

just right was the challenge. 

“I really wanted to tell a story,” said Velthuis. “That love-hate relationship between the brothers. The disdain, at times. My job was to try to capture all of those subtle nuances in their facial expressions.” 

The artist worked from photos and went back and forth a few times in email with the actors themselves. He estimated he redid each face up to 60 times. 

“They like it!” he said. 

Bob and Doug McKenzie look south down 103 Street in Edmonton

Edmontonians are giving it a double-thumbs up, too.  The statue has been covered by news outlets in Edmonton and is a hit on social media.  “Best art installation in the city,” said @dustinopolis on Twitter. 

Velthuis said the statue works in Edmonton.

“These characters are just ordinary folks,” he said. “You see Bobs and Dougs sitting on other benches in Edmonton. I think that’s part of what makes people want to sit down beside them and be part of the art.” 

If you’re not getting outside (and, thank you for practising physical distancing!), here’s 48 seconds of video you can loop of the brothers contemplating the pandemic in the Great White North: