Charles Marega, Monkey and the Bearded Man, 1925
Photo: Howard Ursuliak

  1. Charles Marega, Monkey and the Bearded Man (detail), 1925
    Photo: Howard Ursuliak

  2. Charles Marega, Monkey and the Bearded Man (detail), 1925
    Photo: Howard Ursuliak

Charles Marega

Monkey and the Bearded Man
, 1925

30.5 x 30.5 cm each
Commissioned by the University of British Columbia, 1925

This work, located over the front entrance of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre (formerly the Main Library), consists of two components: a monkey holding a scroll bearing the word evolut, and a bearded man holding a tablet with the text funda inscribed onto it. This work was made to commemorate the public battle between evolutionists and fundamentalists famously fought in a United States courtroom. John Scopes, a teacher from Tennessee, was tried and convicted for teaching Charles Darwin’s biological history of evolution in his high school classroom. Scopes violated a state law that prohibited the teaching of doctrines contrary to the Bible. This “monkey trial” took place in 1925, the year that construction of the Main Library was completed.

In 1912, the architectural firm Sharp and Thompson was selected to design the Point Grey campus for the University, which included Main Library. Born and educated in England, George Thornton Sharp (1880-1974) came to Vancouver in 1908 where he worked as an architect, town planner and artist, contributing significantly to the architectural landscape of UBC and Vancouver, including his design for the Burrard Bridge.

Charles Marega (1871-1939) was commissioned to carve the exterior stone on the façade of the Main Library. Born in Lucinico, Italy, he studied sculpture in Zurich and Vienna and worked in South Africa before arriving in Vancouver in 1909. Marega (who changed his name from Carlos after becoming a Canadian citizen) worked prolifically in Vancouver between 1910 and 1938. His many commissions include the lions at the entrance to the Lions Gate Bridge, the ceiling of the Orpheum Theatre, the Harding Memorial at Stanley Park and the Burrard Bridge.