A look at a few of the many murals located throughout the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
There are over 600 murals throughout the city in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The murals add beauty, tell stories about the city’s history and culture, and make us think.
The West End neighbourhood, an ethnically-diverse area that developed as a working and middle-class residential area in the late 19th century, contains a high concentration of murals. In my post Mural Tour in Winnipeg’s West End, I wrote about a guided tour I took featuring murals in the area. The tour covered only a portion of the murals in the neighbourhood, so I wrote another post More Winnipeg West End Murals to feature some of the others. My post Arctic Gallery: Murals in a Winnipeg Alley features northern wildlife murals artist Kal Barteski painted on garage doors and fences in a back lane.
There are many more murals in other neighbourhoods throughout the city. This post highlights a small sample.
The photograph at the top of this post features a section of the Medicine Wheel Mural on West Broadway. It was created in 2012 by artist Jackie Traverse and two teenage mentees, Leah-Marie and Jenna, in conjunction with Urban Shama Contemporary Aboriginal Art. The mural includes a giant medicine wheel made out of grandfather stories and animals from the Seven Sacred Teachings. More than 100 community members participated in workshops and painted more than 100 individual panels to create the mural.
The above mural was created by Emmanuel Jarus in 2019. It is located on Albert Street in the Exchange District in central Winnipeg. The Exchange District is a 20-block area that was the original centre of commerce and culture in the city and is now a National Historic Site boasting North America’s largest and best-preserved collection of heritage buildings. With restaurants, unique shops, galleries, theatres, and museums, it is a hub for entertainment and serves as the heart of many festivals.
The Great Herd of Clarence Tillenius, at 1881 Portage Avenue, is a tribute by Charlie Johnston to the work of noted Manitoba artist Clarence Tilenius, who received the Order of Canada the same week in 2009 that this mural was painted. It’s a panorama of several of Tillenius’ work blended into one and was created with the full cooperation of Tillenius.
Passage by Lacey Jane and Layla Folkman, painted in 2019, is on the Fort Gibraltar Trail Underpass at The Forks. It celebrates age diversity, pays tribute to the elderly, and honours the beauty of growing older and wiser. The Forks, at the junction of the Red and Assinbioine Rivers in downtown Winnipeg, has been a meeting place for thousands of years and remains a vibrant area of culture and entertainment today.
Jackson Beardy – Woodland Group of Seven Tribute is located on The Forks Historic Walking Bridge. It was painted in 2006 by Mike Valcourt and completely repainted with the same design in 2016 by Mike Valcourt with assistance from David Levasseur.
Jackson Beardy was an artist from Garden Hill First Nation in northeastern Manitoba. He became a strong advocate for native artists and his people and was a founding member of a group established in 1972 called the Professional National Indian Artists Inc. Their style of working became known as the Woodland School of Art.
At the skateboard park at The Forks, you’ll find a mural by English graffiti artist Mr Cenz. The mural features Jai Pereira, the late founder of Sk8 Skates who is credited with helping to create Winnipeg’s skateboarding scene. Mr Cenz has painted murals around the world. I saw one of his other pieces among the amazing street art in London’s Brick Lane.
Walk Through the Seasons by Sarah Collard on the corner of Ruby and Wolseley was painted in 2012 on the side of a corner store owned by an Asian immigrant couple whose son had recently died in an unfortunate accident. The mural is meant to brighten the neighbourhood and reflect the environment of the Wolseley area, a diverse neighbourhood of families, artsy types, and social activists. It is one of the most intact pre-1930 residential areas in Canada and is affectionately referred to as “The Granola Belt.”
A Look at the Nook by Sarah Collard, created in 2011, sits on the side of the Nook Diner, a restaurant that has been on the corner of Sherbrook and Wolseley for years.
Tribute Mural to the Guess Who is located at 1400 Main Street within a block or two from where Burton Cummings, lead vocalist, grew up. It was painted in 2008 by Michael Bridgford-Read, Marymound students, and St. John’s High School students. The mural is a collage of the band’s album covers.
The Guess Who was a Winnipeg rock band formed in 1962 that achieved international success from the late 1960s through the mid-1970s and was inducted into Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1987. It officially disbanded in 1975, but has made occasional reunion performances.
The story of how the mural painted in 2004 by Darlene Toots on the side of Fellowship Church at the corner of St. Mary’s Road and Frederick came to be illustrates the community effort involved in the creation of many of the murals throughout the city. The project was sponsored by the South Winnipeg Chapter of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce and a number of local businesses. When the Chamber had been discussing problems businesses faced, the topic of murals as a way of dealing with graffiti came up. The church, which had a large side wall that had been tagged, had wanted to do something with the community. The church began talking with the Chamber about a mural. Ideas for the content of the mural evolved with members of the church drawing out things they’d like to see on the wall, volunteers helping with many tasks, and several of the young artists getting to paint in their own drawings. The end result is a wall with dozens of details and many stories reflecting the life of the people. My husband was involved with the Chamber at the time this mural was conceived and created. I can recall the amount of planning, collaboration, and excitement that went into it.
European Market Square, painted by Sarah Collard in 2009, is on the side of Miller’s Super Valu Meats in the south Winnipeg neighbourhood of St. Vital.
The side wall of the Union Centre building in the city centre contains a 9200-square-foot mural painted in 2020 by Charlie Johnston. A Century of Solidarity showcases the history of Manitoba’s labour movement. It portrays today’s workers metaphorically standing on the shoulders of strikers in the famous 1919 Winnipeg General Strike. (I’ve written about the strike and exploring its history in the post Touring 1919 General Strike History in Winnipeg, Canada.) The Murals of Winnipeg organization named A Century of Solidarity the 2020 Mural of the Year.
There are many other murals to be found throughout the city of Winnipeg. Just look around as you go through the city or visit The Murals of Winnipeg website to seek them out. The site is dedicated to documenting murals within the city and is the source of a lot of the information about the murals I’ve included in this post.
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