The Murals of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada: Murals
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1812 Main Street (5)    Location Map

Scene of 1877.

Location: SW corner Main & Semple; North Face

Occupant: Manitoba Hydro substation

District: West Kildonan

Neighbourhood: Jefferson

Artist(s): Jill Sellers (Jill Sellers Design)

Year: 2002

Sponsors: Manitoba Hydro


The final scene has fast-forwarded to 1877. A lot had happened since 1817. Canada had formed in 1867. In 1862 Winnipeg was established. The Province of Manitoba was created in 1870. That year, Winnipeg's population was 100; in 1873 it was 1900. In 1875 it was 5000.

The 1877 scene portrays the arrival and unloading of the Countess of Dufferin, Western Canada's first locomotive. Named in honour of the wife of the Governor General of Canada, it was transported by barge down the Red River where it arrived in St. Boniface October 8, 1877. It played a key role in the building of whole sections of the east-west Canadian Pacific Railway line, as well as the construction of the Pembina Branch. Manitoba Hydro selected the theme for this final wall.

Jill Sellers had read Pierre Berton's book, The National Dream, which included a first- hand account of the arrival of The Countess of Dufferin by a western editor who was there. Like most good books, it left an image of the scene in Jill's mind which was to form the basis of the Mural scene.

Jill Sellers: "I actually rented costumes and had models for them so I give it more of a realistic feel. I would ask passers-by or some of my regular visitors to model for me! There was a little boy who came by and he gave me a flower once. He was such a cute little guy he lives down the street. So I let him draw a little worm in the final scene; he's got a little worm on the wall there somewhere; it was something so that he could say he did it." (Editor's note: Yes, it's there! Jill showed me where it is!)

Overall, by all accounts, the 5-scene heritage Murals have been a tremendous success. All 5 scenes are under lights, which were added by Manitoba Hydro because they were so impressed with the walls and wanted to show them off even at night.

Jill: "I actually got to know a lot of neighbourhood people. There were so many nice moments. I got so many drinks, coffee and cookies. One time a man brought me bolts for my scaffolding. I had two school tours and I also had a lot of tourists come by. It has been a real history lesson for me (schools have actually added these 5 walls to their historical community walk). I've never had such good response anywhere else. I think it's the friendliest neighbourhood I have worked in."

Bob Edwards (Manitoba Hydro): "It was a really good project to work on. Jill was great. And we accomplished what we set out to do. We've even had some people come from a Museum in Scotland to look at the paintings. A lot of satisfaction has been derived from it."