"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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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...



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by Violet Nesdoly

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