The Murals of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada: Murals
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1833 Portage Avenue    Location Map

This streetcar made its final run on Portage Avenue through the Municipality of St. James on Monday September 19, 1955.

Location: NE corner Portage & Parkview; West Face

Occupant: Golden Wear Clothing

District: St. James

Neighbourhood: Bruce Park

Artist(s): Jennifer Johnson (Utopian Art Design), Mandy van Leeuwen, Cory Hatland

Year: 2001

Sponsors: Take Pride Winnipeg!, City of Winnipeg, St. James Village BIZ, Winnipeg Foundation


John Steel (St. James BIZ): "This is a tribute to the last streetcar that came through St. James in 1955, the last run. I had gone down to Winnipeg transit and I dug through the files, all their pictures in their history. I came up with a picture of the last streetcar that travelled through St. James. I wanted to give credit to Winnipeg Transit by having this bit of history put on the wall. They suggested to me that we do the streetcar in a black- and-white version with a sign on the front of the car that had the dedication on the sign."

This Mural commemorates the memory of the St. James streetcar, which made its final run along Portage Avenue through the Municipality of St. James on Monday, September 19, 1955. During their research, the artists uncovered some earlier photographs of just how the streets of St. James looked then. Mandy van Leeuwen: "There was a boulevard separating the streets, perhaps a little wider than the Mural suggests, and there was overgrown grass in most of the train tracks' boulevard in some of the photographs we had gotten. The tracks were NOT covered, but in there and we wanted to reproduce that."

Right Panel (Photo 2):

Jennifer Johnson: "Cory did the basic artwork on the streetcar, the whole thing! Mandy and I went in after and refined it. We were really impressed with his work; he seemed to have a good idea of perspective and size. He succeeded in capturing some of the different elements like the windows and the bottom part. He did quite well considering he was only 2 ft. from the wall and it was 6 ft. long. We did the lettering."

Mural Scene (Photos 3, 4 & 5)

Jennifer Johnson-"Mandy and I were so excited about this project because we had decided to get together as a partnership for our work and this was to be our first project from start to finish together."

Mandy: "There are so many itty bitty details to it. We were trying to mimic or reproduce a lot of the architectural details of what was there and what is also there now. When you walk down Portage and then look at the Mural, you do a double take because it's exactly what you're seeing when you're walking down Portage. We've seen so many people stop and say 'Oh my goodness!' From left to right the Mural shows from what it looked like then and moves towards what it looks like now. For instance the green awning on the Pizza place storefront is present day as is Golden Wear Clothing, but almost all the rest reflects the look of the fifties."

"This guy here with the 52 Mercury, he's the guy that we've been connected with in doing the St. James Murals, John Steel; he's fantastic. John Steel at the time DID own a Mercury. This was his precious Merc. He told us the colours it was and we found a photo of one. To bug him, we thought 'we'll have it broken down and him behind pushing it!' And so he couldn't later disavow it was him, we put a big 'JS' on his shirt! We had a John Wayne movie playing in the theater and the guy who owns the building now he is standing out front. And in the TV sets in the electrical shop are playing the shows that were on the time-the atomic bomb, Howdy Doody, and a Western."

John Steel: " You see this old pickup truck here? The girls were lucky because this guy pulled up to do some banking here or some shopping right by where the girls were working. I think it was a 46 or 47 Chevy. It was really lucky because it was perfect for the wall so the girls talked to him and took a picture of the truck and put it up on the wall!"

One of the storefronts is named Cleopatra House of Beauty. Jennifer: "There was a gentleman that lives across the street and has a beauty salon by that name that he runs from his house. He would come and visit Mandy and I. So we just added that in for him. I STILL go there to get my hair done. He did my hair for my wedding. And you see the little dog? A guy was walking his little dog one day and stopped to talk to us. We liked this little dog so we took a picture of it and used it as a reference for the dog on our Mural. We thought we'd add a girl up there painting a Mural of a Flying Fish!"

A whimsical addition and tip-of-the-hat to the enjoyment of their trade, indeed. Since this is Sunny St. James, a bright sunny multicoloured stained glass window was painted onto one of the storefronts. A quick glance at the boy on the bicycle recalls those early wonder years of television with people watching it from a store window since they couldn't afford to buy one yet. The artists were careful in researching the look of fashions then, and used Fifties style fashions for their Village folk.