Winnipeg, Manitoba is a city known for many things. Besides being the capital city of Manitoba it is also home to the Royal Canadian Mint, the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, the Esplanade Riel Bridge and over 2 dozen National Historic Sites of Canada. It has one of the most famous street corners in Canada at Portage Avenue and Main Street. It was the name of the Fort Garry Horse Regiments mascot bear during World War 1 that would be the inspiration of the beloved Winnie-the-Pooh. It is home to professional sports teams and the headquarters of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
One of the most interesting but probably lesser known things about Winnipeg is the amazing Murals that can be found throughout the city. There are nearly 4000 murals gracing the buildings of Winnipeg, representing a myriad of themes, some related to Winnipeg itself and others representing many different subjects.
On a recent trip to Winnipeg I barely scratched the surface of the mural tabloid in Winnipeg and photographed a half-dozen murals that were within the neighbourhood I was at. Below are some of these photos and a brief synopsis of what they represent.
The mural of Italian scenes have the Roman Coliseum, St Peters Basilica, Michelangelos statue of Moses, the Bay of Naples and a Venetian gondola. It also includes Italian cultural icons such as Leonardo da Vinci, Pinocchio and a Ferrari race car.
The Nation of Malaysia mural depicts scenes of Malaysian cityscapes and open markets. Included are traditional Malaysian art forms such as kite making, basket weaving and batik (a technique of dying fabric with some areas covered with wax to resist the dye).
Completed in 2005, this mural commemorates the 700th anniversary of William Wallaces death. The background shows scenery of the Scottish mountains and Sterling Castle, site of Wallaces greatest victory. To the left is the Wallace monument and Wallace is depicted on a rearing horse in a victorious warrior context. The scene is surrounded with a trompe l'oeil effect of cinder blocks to obtain a 3-D optical illusion of the mural.
The mural on the building of the Casa do Minho Portuguese Centre depicts several scenes from Minho Province in Northern Portugal that are important to the centre. Traditional Portuguese folk dancers are the central focus of the mural since it is one of the major activities done at the centre. The left side of the mural includes the Santa Lucia Cathedral in Viana do Castelo, Portugal. The right side shows landscape scenes of northern Portugal and an imaginary sunset scene through a stylized archway created by the artists.
With a theme of the Philippines, where the store owners are from, this mural is centralized with a portrait of Dr Jose Rival, a national hero of the Philippines who was prominent in the independence movement against Spain. The mural contains several scenes, symbols and cultural icons of the Philippines. The Philippine eagle, the national flower called Sampaguita and the manog, the national fruit are all depicted within the mural. There are a variety of landscapes including mountains, beaches and rice fields. On the end wall of the building the mural includes the Jeepney vehicle, a common form of transport and the names of the store owners. There are also images of basketball, a very popular game in the country, colourful chickens that are very common and the Asian Water Buffalo, which is the national animal.
The final mural (and my personal favorite) is The Road to Valour mural, created to commemorate 3 World War 1 Victoria Cross winners who all came from the same city block in Winnipeg. The 3 soldiers were Cpl Leo Clark, Sergeant-Major Frederick William Hall and Lieutenant Robert Shankland. The original street name of Pine Street was renamed Valour Road in their honour. The mural progresses from the men leaving home on the left to fighting in the trenches, portraits of each of the men to the Victoria crosses they received and ending with 3 poppies standing out from a field of poppies. Three red ribbons run throughout from the front of the houses through to the Victoria Crosses they received.
For more information there is a great interactive website (link below) called The Murals of Winnipeg. It contains a map interface and also a neighbourhood link to each part of Winnipeg containing the murals in each neighbourhood. On most murals there is detailed information describing the theme of the mural, information on the artists who created them and the reasoning behind the murals.