‘The Argyle’ mural on Ontario Street in Oshawa slated for removal


Published February 15, 2022 at 2:36 pm

While one mural is being 'de-commissioned' another is created to take its place somewhere else in the city

A mural depicting Oshawa’s harbour a century ago and one of dozens commissioned in the 1990s to help beautify the city is being ‘de-commissioned’ on the request of the building owner.

“On the Lake (The Argyle),” which was created in 1995 by Welland artist Ross Beard, is a 59 X 11-foot mural depicting the harbour around 1910 and the Argyle steamship, which ran regular routes between Whitby and Oshawa and Kingston beginning in 1907.

The mural is on Ontario Street at King and 32-40 King Street building owner Nikeeb Sameem sent a request to the City November 8 to have it removed.  His rationale is that the mural is covering an exterior window in the building, causing issues in renting the space as well as with planned future investments to enhance the building’s exterior.

Oshawa Councillor John Gray said Sameem is well within his rights to ask for the mural’s removal as the City’s Public Art Task Force endorsed the request back on November 17. The decision is bittersweet, however. “It’s my favourite,” Gray said of the mural, “but that’s the way it is.”

The mural was last reviewed in 2016 and at that time was assessed in good condition with the “colours generally vibrant, some fading in the upper-third portion, some rough areas of the patina.” The colours have faded since its last review, and the mural currently has graffiti on it. Restoration work has been undertaken twice, in 2012 and 2015.

Many public art programs consider murals temporary, with a lifetime of 10 to 20 years. Murals are more vulnerable to weather damage, infrastructural changes or evolution in urban planning then other forms of public art since they often cannot be relocated or easily removed.

A staff report declared that relocation and restoration of the mural would cost between $66,000 and $99,000. Staff are recommending that this mural not be relocated to another site.

The financial implications related to removing the mural is estimated at $4,500 as well as the cost of creating a ‘maquette’ print for the family, which is currently estimated at $500. Beard died in 2019.

These costs will be absorbed within the Arts and Culture Reserve Fund.

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