Towering sculpture at Trent University in Peterborough will inspire students to follow their dreams

'Dead Reckoning' sculpture of rower by renowned Canadian artist David Robinson is visible to rowers on the Otonabee River

A detail of 'Dead Reckoning', a sculpture by renowned Canadian artist David Robinson that depicts a muscular rower in a stylized scull pulling at his oars. The sculpture, installed next to the Trent Atheltics Centre at Trent University, is clearly visible both to passersby and to rowers on the Otonabee River. (Photo: David Robinson Sculpture @robinsonstudiogallery / Instagram)
A detail of 'Dead Reckoning', a sculpture by renowned Canadian artist David Robinson that depicts a muscular rower in a stylized scull pulling at his oars. The sculpture, installed next to the Trent Atheltics Centre at Trent University, is clearly visible both to passersby and to rowers on the Otonabee River. (Photo: David Robinson Sculpture @robinsonstudiogallery / Instagram)

Trent University wants to inspire students and others to follow their dreams with a recently installed sculpture by renowned Canadian artist David Robinson.

The towering sculpture, entitled ‘Dead Reckoning’ (Monumental), depicts a muscular rower in a stylized scull pulling at his oars. The sculpture is made of bronze, stainless steel, and weathering steel.

Installed next to the Trent Athletics Centre, the sculpture is clearly visible to students, faculty, staff, and visitors as well as rowers training and competing on the Otonabee River.

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According to a media release from Trent University, Robinson says the vessel resembles the needle of a compass, while the rower “represents anyone — including students on an educational journey — determined to forge a path to their dreams.”

The sculpture also reflects Trent University’s international reputation for rowing excellence, exemplified by the annual Head of the Trent regatta.

“We wanted to mark the 50th anniversary of the Head of the Trent regatta with something very, very special,” says Dr. Leo Groarke, president and vice-chancellor of Trent University. “This sculpture is a wonderful addition to the campus and a wonderful addition to the public sculpture initiative.”

Towering above the Otonabee River, 'Dead Reckoning' by renowned Canadian artist David Robinson is made of bronze, stainless steel, and weathering steel. Part of Trent University's public sculpture initiative, the sculpture also marks the 50th anniversary of the Head of the Trent regatta. (Photo: David Robinson Sculpture @robinsonstudiogallery / Instagram)
Towering above the Otonabee River, ‘Dead Reckoning’ by renowned Canadian artist David Robinson is made of bronze, stainless steel, and weathering steel. Part of Trent University’s public sculpture initiative, the sculpture also marks the 50th anniversary of the Head of the Trent regatta. (Photo: David Robinson Sculpture @robinsonstudiogallery / Instagram)

Trent’s public sculpture initiative, established by alumnus David James (’68), celebrates sculpture in Canada and helps Trent acquire nationally significant works that present unique and diverse artistic practices.

“This sculpture will be an icon and a beacon for those on the river,” says Sherry Booth, Trent’s associate vice president for philanthropy and alumni engagement.

The university will install a plaque next to the sculpture, detailing the artwork, the artist, and honouring the donors that made it possible.

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Toronto-born Robinson entered the fine arts stream in high school, specializing in sculpture. He continued his studies at Langara College and became an honours graduate in the sculpture program at the Ontario College of Art.

Robinson’s sculptures incorporate a variety of materials ranging from bronze, steel, and silver to concrete, mirror, and paper. His work is in many private and corporate collections including the Rosewood Hotel Georgia, Dentons Canada LLP, Painted Rock Estate Winery, Toronto Dominion Bank, and Vancouver General Hospital.

“I am very, very grateful to have the placement of this piece in a beautiful culture that is welcoming to the work,” Robinson says.

The artist and Trent University alumni and officials at the completed installation of 'Dead Reckoning' (Monumental): Thomas Miller, Trent University president Leo Groarke, artist David Robinson, director of alumni engagement Lee Hays, Roberta Hubble, associate vice president of philanthropy and alumni engagement Sherry Booth, board chair Debra Cooper Burger, and Dan Coholan. (Photo: Trent University)
The artist and Trent University alumni and officials at the completed installation of ‘Dead Reckoning’ (Monumental): Thomas Miller, Trent University president Leo Groarke, artist David Robinson, director of alumni engagement Lee Hays, Roberta Hubble, associate vice president of philanthropy and alumni engagement Sherry Booth, board chair Debra Cooper Burger, and Dan Coholan. (Photo: Trent University)

Plans to formally celebrate the installation will take place during the 50th anniversary of the Head of the Trent Regatta.

Last year, Trent University and the Peterborough Rowing Club decided to cancel the 2020 Head of the Trent regatta and postpone the 50th anniversary of the event until 2021 due to the pandemic. According to Row Ontario, the 2021 regatta is scheduled to take place on Saturday, October 2.

Chris Leach, founder of the Trent University Rowing Club, organized the first Head of the Trent regatta in 1971. It has since become North America’s largest single-day head-race regatta, attracting more than 1,200 athletes from over 50 universities and clubs across Canada and the northern United States.

The regatta is hosted and organized by the Peterborough Rowing Club and the Trent University Rowing Club. Races take place on the Trent-Severn Waterway, starting at the Parkhill Road Bridge and winding through the Trent Canal to finish five kilometres later at the university’s Symons Campus.