New landmark erected in Uptown

Five beautiful handcrafted bells were hoisted earlier today at the Center for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) campus as a marker of CIGI’s Canadian-based internationally focused research and contributions in international affairs.

Where before, the CIGI site located at Erb St. West and Caroline St. displayed a pyramid of whiskey barrels, the new monument is now welded on top of the bell tower. Fred Kuntz, vice president of public affairs at CIGI, said that the bells were supposed to represent “a marriage between the old and the new.”

“Waterloo is a city of knowledge and culture,” Kuntz said. “We wanted to add a more traditional aspect. The buildings we have now use both stone and glass,” he gestured to the ongoing construction.

The bells were created to create a more traditional Oxbridge-style campus, trying to follow what Kuntz described as “centuries of architectural tradition.”

The largest of the five bells, weighing a total of 2,104 lbs, bears the phrase, “Shaping ideas for global governance.” The name of Jim Balsille, founder of both of CIGI’s campuses, appears in raised script below the phrase.

“The bells were founded in part by the federal and provincial governments, each donating $25 million each, but Jim Balsillie made a major donation as well,” said Kuntz. “The campus itself costs about $66.8 million.”

Many representatives from CIGI were in attendance for the bell raising, as well as Kitchener Waterloo’s Conservative MP Peter Braid. Jim Balsillie did not appear to be present. However, employees at CIGI were invited to sign the beams around the bell before it was hoisted into place.

Shannon Feldman, a research assistant at CIGI held up her phone as the bells were raised, much like almost every other CIGI employee. “It’s a pretty exciting day for us,” she said. “We’ve been watching this for months and months and now it’s ready.”

She continued to say that she believed the bells stood as a symbol of what’s to come in the future with the Balsillie School of International Affairs and CIGI campus.

Richard Watson, the creator of the bells, explained that each of the five bells has five tones that must be in tune with itself and with the other bells, adjusted to resemble the sound of Westminster Abbey. “We [Meeks, Watson and Company] are the only people who make these bells in North America.” Watson said. “Our only competition is in Europe but we like them so it’s OK.”

The bells are expected to ring every quarter of an hour if the city agrees. “It’s kind of a relief to see them up there,” Watson said. “Hopefully they’ll be used and enjoyed for a really long time.”

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