The Murals of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada: Murals
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1812 Main Street (1)    Location Map
  

Scene of 1790- A Cree encampment by the Red River.


Location: SW corner Main & Semple; East Face

Occupant: Manitoba Hydro substation

District: West Kildonan

Neighbourhood: Jefferson

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

Year: 2001

Sponsors: Manitoba Hydro

 

About the 1812 Main project: In 1999, the bricks of an existing brick fence at this Manitoba Hydro Substation were starting to break apart, so it was replaced with an 8 in. thick concrete core slab that was 3 meters (10 ft.) in height. The new wall runs 47.8 meters along Main Street and 32.6 meters along Semple Avenue.

Soon after its construction Hydro began to receive complaints from residents of the West Kildonan area of the appearance of the structure. Many residents felt that the dull grey walls did not fit into the neighbourhood, weren't aesthetically appealing, and detracted from the attractiveness of the area. Some even referred to it as the 'Berlin Wall'. Bob Edwards from Manitoba Hydro attended a meeting of the West Kildonan Residents Association Advisory Committee to discuss options for the fence. The Association were pleasantly surprised when Manitoba Hydro showed not resistance, but an unreserved sympathy and sincere interest with the resident's concerns. Several meeting followed the first, in an effort to spin a negative into a positive, and various beautification options were presented and explored. Then, after consulting with others at Manitoba Hydro and the landscaping architecture firm of Scatliff Miller Murray, the residents' association decided that a great solution to the problem would be to cover up the slabs with attractive Murals that would depict historic scenes that represented the settlement of the area. Hydro readily agreed, and a Mural artist was chosen.

Jill Sellers came highly recommended, and was herself a West Kildonan resident, even though she's done Murals all over the city. Once she had been hired, she spent the first month doing historical research. Each scene is centred on a panel that is ten foot by 34.5 ft. As she composed each scene, Jill spent a further time researching each scene to make sure each was historically accurate. She then painted each scene onto a small canvas and then transferred them to the wall.

Scene 1: The first scene is set circa 1790, and depicts the calm, the peacefulness, and the self-sufficiency of the indigenous peoples before the settlers arrived. Before the arrival of the Selkirk settlers to Kildonan, the indigenous peoples (the Assiniboine, the Cree, the Saulteaux (Ojibwa) and the Sioux) were passing through and using the land, but there was no formal recording of any permanent settlements.

The scene consists of a prairie scene of Buffalo, trees and aboriginals in a true wilderness setting. It shows a Cree encampment with two rawhide tepees on one side of the painting. A young woman wearing a blanket around her shoulders is picking rosehips, while an elder on horseback is surveying a herd of buffalo nearby. The Red River can be seen in the distance. It's a peaceful scene that suggests the relative ease of living off the land with its abundant supply of food, fertile soil, wild fowl, prairie grasses, shrubs and wild flowers.