Art in­stall

His­tor­i­cal photos and art­work pop­ping up across town.

Fort McMurray Today - - FORT MCMURRAY - VIN­CENT MCDER­MOTT To­day Staff vm­c­der­mott@postmedia.com

Long be­fore the con­struc­tion of the North­ern Lights Re­gional Health Cen­tre, Fort McMur­ray re­lied on Ho­pi­tal St. Gabriel and the Grey Nuns of Mon­treal for its med­i­cal needs.

Be­tween 1938 and 1966, it was Fort McMur­ray’s only hospi­tal and re­mained open as a chronic care fa­cil­ity un­til 1972. To­day, all that re­mains of the phys­i­cal build­ing is its sign, which is at Her­itage Park.

But in re­cent weeks, his­toric photos of Fort McMur­ray, which re­mained in the ar­chives of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and the Fort McMur­ray His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, are giv­ing his­tor­i­cal sites like Ho­pi­tal St. Gabriel a sec­ond life.

In the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s ef­forts to de­ter graf­fiti, col­lages of his­tor­i­cal images can be seen wrapped around mu­nic­i­pal traf­fic boxes through­out the down­town area. The wraps are de­signed to fill any blank space that would be ap­peal­ing for a po­ten­tial van­dal.

They are also made of a ma­te­rial that makes wip­ing graf­fiti off eas­ier than if the metal boxes them­selves had been tagged.

“Tag­ging is a re­al­ity, but we hope it will at least de­ter peo­ple from tag­ging,” said Theresa Jol­liffe, a com­mu­nity strate­gies co­or­di­na­tor with the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

Sim­i­lar projects have taken place in other com­mu­ni­ties across Canada, and have seen some suc­cess in re­duc­ing the amount of graf­fiti in their com­mu­ni­ties, said Jol­liffe, such as St. Al­bert.

Other com­mu­ni­ties, such as Athabasca, have used his­tor­i­cal images of sig­nif­i­cant places and peo­ple to tell the sto­ries of neigh­bour­hoods and mon­u­ments.

“We see down­town as the his­tor­i­cal down­town,” said Jol­liffe. “Some of the photos are linked to the streets they re­side on.”

A photo of hockey play­ers coached by Fa­ther Pa­trick Mer­credi, a Catholic priest born in Fort Chipewyan who served Fort McMur­ray and many other north­ern com­mu­ni­ties, is on the street bear­ing his name­sake.

In the newer com­mu­ni­ties north of the Athabasca River, 42 traf­fic boxes will be wrapped with de­signs from lo­cal artists and pho­tog­ra­phers. Many of these will be along Con­fed­er­a­tion Way, Thick­wood Boule­vard and Macken­zie Boule­vard.

A to­tal of 55 in­ter­sec­tions and ar­eas will have their traf­fic boxes wrapped in the com­mu­nity project.

A new lo­ca­tion will be fea­tured ev­ery Fri­day on the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s “Wood Buf­falo Cul­ture” Face­book page with a story be­hind the images.

While the cost of the project will to­tal $35,000, Jol­liffe says the mu­nic­i­pal­ity spends up to $240,000 han­dling graf­fiti an­nu­ally.

“We’re hop­ing this project will be ef­fec­tive here,” she said.

VIN­CENT MCDER­MOTT/FORT MCMUR­RAY TO­DAY

A photo of Ho­pi­tal St. Gabriel, which was run by the Grey Nuns of Mon­treal be­tween 1938 to 1966 as Fort McMur­ray’s only hospi­tal, is wrapped around a mu­nic­i­pal util­ity box near the cor­ner of Hospi­tal Street and Franklin Av­enue in down­town Fort McMur­ray, Alta. on Tues­day, Oc­to­ber 10, 2017. The hospi­tal re­mained open as a chronic care fa­cil­ity un­til 1972.

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