The monument commemorates Louis Cyr, the Quebec weightlifter said to have been, in his time, the “strongest man in the world.” The Sud-ouest Borough hosts the full-round statue of Cyr because in 1883, the Canadian Samson was employed by the Ville de Montréal as a police officer in the neighbourhood. He is portrayed in a weightlifter’s outfit, at age 28, in a pose characteristic of his discipline: arms crossed and a determined gaze. Accompanied by the tools of his sport – a barbell at his feet, dressed in a singlet and ankle-height boots – Cyr wears a bronze belt inscribed Fortissimo, framed by maple leaves. The belt was given to him by the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste in 1908, in the presence of Sir Wilfrid Laurier and Honoré Mercier. The figure is rendered to resemble the preserved archival photographs of Cyr and was probably inspired by portraits of the champion published in newspapers. The monument, portraying Cyr in all of his colossal strength and as a Canadian promoter of physical culture and athleticism, was a major work in the career of Quebec sculptor Robert Pelletier. The plaster cast of the statue is now preserved at the Musée de la civilisation de Québec.
Born in Saint-Cyprien de Napierville in 1863, in the Montérégie region, Louis Cyr was baptized Noé-Cyprien Cyr. It was only in 1878, when his family moved to Lowell, Massachusetts, that he adopted the first name Louis. When he was 12, Cyr, the second in a family of 17 children, was forced to quit school to work on the family farm as a lumberjack. It was then that people around him began to notice his brute strength. Cyr took part in his first strongman competition in Boston when he was 18. Between 1895 and 1900, he established a number of records and performed in Europe, the United States, and Canada. He died at age 49.