Original Published on Sep 26, 2022 at 16:33
By Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
There’s a new addition at the Heritage Museum Centre in the Village of Magnetawan but it’s not inside the building.
Rather, the feature is a large outdoor mural of a multi-coloured moose on the back side of the museum which the public is encouraged to kiss and then post the image on social media.
The artist behind the mural is Kristyn Watterworh of Toronto.
The village hired Watterworth as part of its ongoing Beautification of Magnetawan project launched a couple of years ago.
Deputy clerk Laura Brandt says the village is creating a series of outdoor murals on existing buildings to give visitors and locals one more thing to enjoy in the community.
Magnetawan is mostly a tourism town and Brandt says the goal is to make more people aware that the village is adding destination murals to its list of things to see and do while there.
The first destination mural was created last year by Nomi Drory of Magnetawan who painted a series of images along a two-foot high, 65-foot long concrete wall next to the museum and by the Magnetawan Locks.
Drory’s artwork depicted Magnetawan’s important connection to the Magnetawan River and the variety of vessels that used the waterway over the decades from Indigenous canoes, to steamships and tug boats that transported cut logs to the various timber mills.
Brandt says funding for both murals came from the federal government’s Rural Economic Development (RED) program.
“And we just recently applied under the RED program for next year and have the go ahead,” Brandt said.
Next year’s mural is going up at the Ahmic Harbour Community Centre where the Magnetawan Fire Station 2 is also located,” Brandt said.
She expects requests for submissions to pick the next artist will go out in the near future.
“And we’re hoping for great submissions,” Brandt said.
The moose mural also includes several large images of fish.
Brandt says the goal of wanting people to kiss the moose and post the pictures on platforms like Instagram and Tik Tok is to increase awareness about Magnetawan.
She adds people have been getting right up to the mural and kissing the moose on the lips.
Brandt says the municipality also wants to engage its residents with this latest mural with another naming contest.
Earlier the village ran a contest where residents were asked to name the rock snake people created during the pandemic and the majority decided on Maggie.
Brandt says the same rules apply where the public is asked to send submissions to the municipality.
The only stipulation is suggestions must start with the letter ‘M’ to reflect the Magnetawan name but also ‘Maggie’ is out as a choice since the rock snake now owns that moniker.
Brandt says residents have until Oct. 31 to submit names.
Afterwards all the entries will be posted online at Survey Monkey and people can vote what name they like best.
Like the rock snake project, the person whose name is most chosen will win a gift card to a local merchant.
Submissions need to be sent to Brandt at email@example.com .
Brandt says Magnetawan is no stranger to artwork.
“It’s deeply enriched and rooted in our history,” she said.
Brandt said one of the founding members of Canada’s Group of 7 painters, J.E.H. MacDonald in addition to later members like Tom Thomson and A. J. Casson “are known to have painted this area a lot”.
“In fact Casson painted our local Anglican Church,” Brandt said.
Brandt adds a painting by MacDonald simply called A Rapid in the North bears a striking resemblance to an area in Magnetawan named the Knoefli Falls in Ahmic Harbour.
“They embraced and showcased the beauty of the area,” Brandt said.
She adds perhaps it’s fitting at this time that the municipality is drawing more attention to its history with art as it pursues more destination murals under its Beautification of Magnetawan project.