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Hooper’s iconic People Waiting sculptures return to Saint John

Some familiar faces are once again “waiting” around uptown Saint John.

The wooden “People Waiting” sculptures, created by the late John Hooper, now have a new location within the city’s indoor pedway following a complete restoration.

“It’s fun to see them all up,” said Kathy Hooper, speaking to CTV Atlantic at an event on Monday re-introducing her husband’s work following a five-year absence from the public. “I love them in this space.”

The sculptures had been located on the corner of King Street and Prince William Street until the summer of 2018, when they were removed due to a developing state of deterioration.

“They were in pretty rough shape,” said Tandi Hooper-Clark, daughter of John Hooper. “Over time, they just started having issues, just like people do.”


The city of Saint John and the Hooper family made a decision to remove, restore, and re-install “People Waiting” at a new indoor location.

“We wanted them to live on,” said Sue Hooper, daughter of John Hooper. “We feel like they’re safer here. They will be protected.”

The restoration, which included the removal of rotten wood bits and the addition of new carvings, took place in Hampton at Hooper Studies. Multiple coats of paint were applied to give the colourful characters a bright new glow.

“We went back to some of the original colours, and then we adlibbed a little bit,” said Tandi, using old photos as a reference.

The new location for “People Waiting,” directly across from the City Hall service centre elevators, is within the new public space owned by Fundy Harbour Group. Several people walking by during Monday’s event took the time to stop and take a closer look at the restored art pieces.

“It just really goes to show how important public art is, and place-making, and the fact they’re in a very public space now,” said Kate Wilcott, the city’s arts and culture coordinator.

‘People Waiting’ by the late John Hooper was originally commissioned by Canada Post in 1975. The public art pieces are now located inside the uptown Saint John pedway, following repairs and restoration.


Canada Post commissioned John Hooper to create “People Waiting” in 1975. Its original location was in front of the city’s post office.

Saint John resident Patty Murphy was feeling nostalgic after walking by its new location, and rediscovered a family photo taken shortly after “People Waiting” was first introduced at its Rothesay Avenue location.

“They bring me back to the seventies,” said Murphy. “It gives you a good feeling because they’ve been around for so long. They’re like the people of Saint John.”

The wooden “People Waiting” sculptures, created by the late John Hooper, are on display within the Saint John's indoor pedway.

In the late nineties, Canada Post donated “People Waiting” to the city of Saint John and the sculptures were placed across the street from City Hall.

Another Hooper sculpture called “People Apart Coming Together” can be found at an inside location by the Saint John Trade and Convention Centre. The Rocca Group commissioned “People Apart Coming Together” in 1983.

The Rocca Group also commissioned Hooper to create “Timepiece” in 1984. It was located outside the entrance to Market Square until 2020, when it was also moved due to wood rot. Vandalism was also a concern.

“Timepiece” has been restored and will be moved to an unspecified indoor location in Saint John by the end of 2024, according to the city.

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page. Top Stories

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