"This isn't a watercolor, it's a mural." - Erich Segal

The banner mural of ships and fishing supplies decorates the fence of a parking lot just off Marine Drive in White Rock B.C.
(Artist unknown)

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Chemainus, B.C. - 2

Downtown Chemainus had been rejuvenated in 1982 with five beautiful historic murals. Then in 1983, the town’s biggest employer, the lumber mill, closed after 120 years. Almost 700 people became unemployed in a community of just under 4,000.

But instead of giving up, this Cowichan Valley town surged ahead with a new dream of attracting tourists with murals. The Festival of Murals Society was established that year. That year Chemainus also won the New York Downtown Revitalization Award for redevelopment of the downtown core. Seven more historic-themed murals were added to the town’s collection in 1983:

“Logging With Oxen”
Around 1898 oxen were the main form of power in logging.
(painted by Harold Lyon, Fountain Hills, Arizona)

“Camp 2 On A Sunday”
Loggers spending their Sunday on personal chores at Camp 2, 1902.
(painted by David J. More, Red Deer Alberta)

“Company Store”
An interior rendering of the Victoria Lumber and Manufacturing Company Store, 1917
(painted by Dan Sawatzky, Cultus Lake, B.C.)

“Temporary Homes”
Accomodation for a construction crew in 1912 during road building north of Chemainus.
(painted by David White, Nassau, Bahamas)

"Native Heritage"
Based on the figures from the Native past and present in this area, three tribes are shown.
(painted by Paul Ygartua, Vancouver, B.C.)

Also painted that year were "The Arrival of the 'Reindeer'" and "Chemainus 1891"

Of all these, my favorites are the oxen and the temporary homes. Clicking on the "Logging with Oxen" link takes you to the mural tour page with some fascinating information about how one logged with these beasts.

The temporary homes mural looks a lot like a watercolor to me - beautifully done!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Mural Mecca - Chemainus, BC (Part 1)

It was pouring rain when we left home for Vancouver Island the morning of January 2nd. One of the things I really wanted to do while were we on the Island was visit Chemainus, a little Vancouver Island town now famous throughout the world for its collection of historic murals. We had hoped to do that on the 2nd – but in a deluge?

When we disembarked at Swartz Bay, the precip seemed lighter. And so, thinking this might be the best that we got – keeping in mind the moody winter we’ve had so far on the coast – we made a snap decision at the junction of Highways 17 and 1, and turned north onto 1 and the road to Chemainus.

Despite a confusing interchange which took us on a thirty-minute detour in search of lunch, we got to our destination around 3 p.m. Even as I climbed out of the car to snap the first mural, the few remaining sprinkles of rain turned to pale sunshine. So for the next two hours, we tramped around downtown Chemainus following the yellow footprints painted on the sidewalks in a self-directed tour. I managed to photograph twenty-eight of the thirty-eight murals but only two of the ten sculptures – which only means I need to go back!

Chemainus’s mural project began in 1982 when the town council decided to put some muscle into beautifying the downtown. Ideas for the first murals came from historic books and photos. Five were painted that first summer.

"Steam Donkey at Work" was the first mural painted. (Click on any photo to enlarge)

It shows a steam donkey and crew hauling a log from the forest. It was repainted in 1994.
Artists: Frank Lewis and Nancy Lagana - Victoria B.C.

Other murals painted in 1982:

"Thirty-three Meter Collage"

Stevedores at the Chemainus wharf.

A boom man sorting logs.

Engine #21 rolls off another load of logs into Chemainus log dump
(Artists: Frank Lewis, Nancy Lagana - Victoria BC & Paul Marcano - Saltspring Island BC)


"Steam Train on Bridge Over Chemainus River"

Locomotive #4 hauling logs over Chemainus River.
Artist: Paul Marcano - Saltspring Island, BC


"The Hong Hing Waterfront Store"

Hong Hing ran a laundry and then a general store from 1915 to 1950.
Artist: Paul Marcano - Saltspring Island

Video clip showing artists at work on this mural
(This one I missed)
To be continued...



All writing and images © Copyright 2006 - 2013
by Violet Nesdoly

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