A Figurehead to Ward Off Hunger
La Vivrière is a fountain sculpture commemorating the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Québec City in 1945. Installed near the docks, this monument evokes both the history of the port of Québec and the city’s centuries-old relationship with the St. Lawrence River.
A figurehead to ward off hunger
Sitting proudly in lovely little Place de la FAO, La Vivrière is a bronze sculpture reminiscent of the carved decorations that used to adorn the prows of ships. These figures often depicted goddesses and were meant to protect sailors against storms and shipwrecks. La Vivrière is a figurehead to ward off hunger, represented as a woman carrying food from all continents.
The inscription on the base of the statue states that Place de la FAO sits along what used to be the shoreline of the St. Lawrence until the turn of the 19th century. The bricks that make up the streets and sidewalks here are arranged in a wave pattern that brings to mind the period before infill shifted the river edge along this key sector of the port of Québec. The sloping base of the sculpture repeats the wavy pattern of the bricks to create the impression of waves lapping against the shoreline.
The United Nations in Québec City
Place de la FAO was inaugurated on October 10, 1995, to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Officials from 44 states gathered in Québec City in 1945 to create this organization with the goal of assisting developing countries in the fight against hunger and malnutrition.
A plaque commemorates the leading role played in this project by future Canadian prime minister Lester B. Pearson, who was ambassador to the UN at the time. After pushing for a new international organization actively involved in the field of food and agriculture, Pearson presided over the inaugural conference in 1945. His exceptional talents as a diplomat earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957.