Vankleek Hill community mural returns

Vankleek Hill community mural returns

A team of helpers worked hard the weekend of November 6 to mount the updated Community Patchwork Mural on the corner of Main Street and Highway 34. A replica of the original by artists Lis Skelly and Odile Têtu, the new mural was recently repainted in a community effort spearheaded by Lorie Turpin, who painted many of the panels in the new work. She was joined by several other artists, including local painters Susie Fairbrother, Sylvie Bouchard, and Bridget Macdonald. 

“Bridget was invaluable,” Turpin said. “It would have taken me years if I didn’t have her help.” 

The mural faces north above the entrance of Totem Roasters, just west of the Main Street and Highway 34 intersection stoplight. It was hung by building owner Carl Dubé, his brother, Christian, and a crowd of helpers interested in preserving the cultural legacy of the town.  

“The worst thing I could have done, in my mind,” said Dubé, “was to take it down and not put it back up.” 

Dubé was instrumental to the recreation project, removing each panel of the old mural by hand so it could be preserved and reproduced. Although officials considered restoring the original mural, the deterioration of the wood and paints was too far gone, and an attempt to repair a portion of the original was unsuccessful. The original artists, Skelly and Têtu, weighed in on the decision and agreed with the recreation plan. 

The recent addition of a chimney to the building meant some parts of the mural had to be shuffled around, and its location on a slope made hanging the mural difficult. Despite all this, the mural was hung without anything bad happening, and people continue to pour into town to look. 

“We’ve had people stopping, talking about it and saying how great it looks,” Turpin said. “People were honking as they were going through the intersection.” 

Residents gathered on November 20 for the official unveiling, where Mayor Normand Riopel and former mayor Gary Barton presented and thanked all the artists and community members who made the mural possible. 

«A project like this could not happen without the involvement of many people to plan the fundraising, the repainting of the mural, the volunteers in the community and the collaboration of the current owners of the building on which this mural appears,” said Riopel. “Thank you all for your efforts and hard work. The entire Council, administration and I are proud to have contributed financially to this piece of art. In addition to supporting our downtown revitalization efforts, this patchwork will certainly contribute to the residents’ pride and sense of belonging to their neighbourhood, especially since many of them participated in it.” 

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