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Kawelin Dog Sculpture

Kawelin Dog Sculpture

An open mouth, pendulous abdomen, protruding eyes – this is how the pictures portray dog “Kawelin” made in 1936 by Piotr Sawicki, later Białystok Puppet Theatre creator’s father. It was standing in park, pleased the eye and was used as dustbin. The sculpture had some magical powers within because no matter how ugly it was, it was still nice, kids, tourists and even entire families took pictures with it. This nice dog was called “Kawelin”, supposedly due to resemblance to an tsar colonel Mikołaj Kawelin, who settled in the region and sometimes staying in Ritz hotel. In 1944 the park’s attraction was gone. A rumor says that retreating Nazis took the sculpture with them thinking it was an antique.

Kawelin truth and myth

During Białystok’s existance there were many people who permanently have found their place in city’s history both the old and new. It is men who make the history in fact. Some of them due to ideology were not allowed to be spoken about. They were meant to be forgotten along with their contributions to the city. Currently historians and sport activists try to remind people about some of them and their achievements. Such character is Mikołaj Kawelin. Colonel was known for his catfish moustache and legendary ugliness and eccentric actions. Unofficially his name was given to made in 1936 monument. Kawelin was very rich and owned several thousand hectares of forests as well as sawmills and dairies.  After the start of the Second World War he moved to Warsaw where in summer 1944 he died. He was buried on Orthodox cemetery in Wola.


Mikołaj Kawelin (1865-1944) Russian, colonel of tsar army, a grandson of authorising officer on Catherine II court. We don’t know much of his early years. When it comes to the later fate of young colonel a lot influence fallen to one single meeting. In 1890 he met Józef Piłsudski, and even though we don’t know much of their later friendship, stories say that it was Mikołaj Kawelin that helped Józef Piłsudski to get out of Petersburg prison in 1901. It is also unknown whether those two men met again.
Mikołaj Kaweling got married to Helena Kruzemsztem, daughter of the owner of Zabłudowski goods, senator and director of the diplomatic office of Governor of the Polish Kingdom – Aleksander Kruzensztem. Senator gave his daughter Rafałówka property consisting of Borowiki, Kamionka, Kucharówka and Zacisze farms. Mr and Mrs Kawelin settled down in Majówka property near Białystok and since then the colonel has become one of the most popular and colourful characters in the city.
Legends have been told for example about “horse-riding expedition” to Hotel Ritz, where he had his private apartment. Eccentric and even scandalous actions shaped people’s opinion of him. It was however who became the founder of a new Białystok Sports Club, especially cycling. On 15 August 1905 the first cycle tournament was held in Białystok. The route led through Białystok’s streets. This tradition has been continued until 1912. After the revolution in Russia, Kawelin family moved to France and settled in Nice. In 1921 colonel Kawelin decides to come back to the independent Poland. He comes alone as his family decides to stay in France. After passing the border Mikołaj Kawelin is arrested as a former colonel of tsar army. At this moment the plot of his unknown acquaintance with Józef Piłsudski. He is released from arrest and as a citizen of Poland goes back to devastated and destroyed Majówka property. Colonel rebuilds his mansion and gets married for the second time. Again he becomes one of the most popular and colourful characters in the city of the interwar period. He is involved in many charities: performs for the theatre for unemployed, gives wood for the construction of Krywlany airport, builds a folk house in Kamionka but above all he is a very popular sport activist. In 1932-1935 fulfils the role of president in “Jagiellonia” Sports Club, often helping financially it and its members. Leonard Łuszczewski a known cyclist from before the war recalls Kawelin as: “a good father of cyclist and other sportsmen”. This ugly, fat man with moustache was liked in Białystok so much that a charming park sculpture of English bulldog made by Piotr Sawicki(senior) was named by citizens Kawelin. After World War II started Kawelin family moved to Warsaw where Mikołaj died in 1944. At the same time, retreating Nazi forces took from park Białystok’s favourite sculpture. For many years after Second World War the memory of Białystok’s sports godfather was forgotten but thanks to Zbigniew Karlikowski’s commitment and efforts those memories of Mikołaj Kawelin were returned to city’s inhabitants.

Interesting facts about Kawelin

Story 1

One day Mikołaj Kawelin leaving his hotel Ritz apartment ordered all carriages in front of hotel. While he sat personally in the first one, he put his jacket in the second one, his hat in third and so on. He ordered all of them to bring him and his things to his mansion in Majówka. His loud voice could be heard for long as important city personalities were forced to walk in the middle of the night all the way home.
Story 2

One time Kawelin came to hotel Ritz on a horse and used open in summer time windows to get inside hotel restaurant and went to the bar with surprised and terrified guests eyes on him. Surprised barman was ordered to open a champagne and pour it to two glasses. He drank one himself and ordered the second one to be given to the horse.