Working for two months through rain and sometimes under an unforgiving sun, artist John Hood realized his work on the mural was finally done as he signed his name to it Saturday morning following a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“When I finish one of these things, I get emotionally wrapped up in it,” Hood said after the ceremony, which took place at 11 a.m. at the site of the town’s second heritage mural—painted on the west side of the Masonic Lodge.
“When I was putting on the final strokes last night, there was a high there,” he noted. “But at the same time, it’s kind of like postpartum depression. Something you’ve been involved with is over.
“I’ll never get used to that. It’s a trip, really,” noted Hood, as he took a few snapshots to keep for his portfolio.
Hood also made his feelings known during a speech to about 40 people on hand for the ceremony to honour the colourful mural, entitled “Fort Frances at the Turn of the Century.”
“The last month has been a bit of a difficult time for a lot of us. And I’d like to thank all of the people of Fort Frances who’ve shown their support, or teased me, or shot pool with me,” he chuckled.
“With your kindness and support, you’ve shown what a community can be and should be,” he added.
The ceremony also was a chance for dignitaries such as Mayor Glenn Witherspoon and members of the BIA, who were the driving force behind the mural, which depicts various scenes reliving the turn of the century here.
“I think it’s great. It shows more civic pride—not only from the businesses but the public, as well,” remarked Mayor Witherspoon. “It shows that our town does care.
“With the revitalization of the downtown in the next 10 years, I can see more murals and other projects that will make it second to none,” he added.
“I think John’s work speaks for itself but if I had to sum it up in one word, it would be ‘impressive,’” enthused BIA chair Ted Debenetti. “I can’t help but feel a renewed sense of pride.”
Gord McBride, who’s been involved with the BIA—either as a member or volunteer—for more than 15 years, echoed those sentiments.
“I think it’s a great idea for downtown Fort Frances. It’s going to be a focal point for downtown and a tourist attraction as well,” he noted. “From all the people that stopped by and talked to the artist, and gave him their praises, I think it’s appreciated.”
Alan Tibbetts, secretary of the local Masonic Lodge, noted they were more than willing to let the BIA use the side of their building as a mural site.
“As one of the oldest organizations in Fort Frances, we’re very interested in history and we’re glad to see the subject chosen for the mural,” he remarked.
June Cunningham, who chaired the mural committee, also had a few words after the ceremony. “I think it’s a great accomplishment for myself and the committee. It’s something for the community,” she remarked.
“And it brings back memories of what our forefathers went through to get here,” she added.
Hood, BIA members, and other dignitaries were escorted to the mural ceremony by the Fort Frances Highlanders. It was followed by a luncheon at the Rainy Lake Hotel.