William McMillan, King George VI, 1955/58
Photo: Howard Ursuliak

William McMillan

King George VI
, 1955/58

280 x 124 x 110 cm
Gift of the War Amps of Canada and the Woodward Foundation, 1958

Located near the Woodward Library, this sculpture was a gift to UBC from the Vancouver Branch of the War Amps of Canada and funded by Mr. P.A. Woodward, a veteran of World War II. This sculpture is a second casting of the original, located on the Mall leading up to Buckingham Palace in London. It was unveiled at UBC by the Lieutenant-Governor in 1958 and dedicated by Queen Elizabeth II when she visited campus on June 22, 1958. Up until recently, the sculpture had been erroneously attributed to British sculptor Charles Wheeler.

In the 1970s the sculpture suffered at the hands of vandals when King George’s sword was stolen under the cover of night. Twenty-five years later, a mystery caller telephoned the UBC President’s Office confessing to the prank. For all those years, the sword had decorated his living room. The anonymous caller returned the sword to the site, hiding it under nearby bushes. Unfortunately, the sword was stolen again in recent years.

The statue was rededicated to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the passing of King George VI and to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s visit on the occasion of her Golden Jubilee in 2002. The presence of this sculpture on campus reminds us of the colonial history of British Columbia and of Canada’s continued membership in the British Commonwealth.

William McMillan was a sculptor and medal designer. He was born in Scotland and studied at Gray’s Art School and the Royal College of Art, London. McMillan was closely affiliated with the Royal Academy; he was elected an associate member in 1925, a full member in 1933 and from 1929-1941 was Master of the Royal Academy Sculpture School. He has many public works located throughout the United Kingdom.