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'Beautify our community': Copper Cliff library mural celebrates tight-knit town's history

Latest installation focuses on the community's veterans and the generations that have followed

The latest of three murals now adorning Copper Cliff Public Library was unveiled Saturday, commemorating the history of the town and community members that have contributed to its evolution over the years. 

This most recent installation celebrates the community's veterans and the generations that have followed.

The two earlier pieces depicted the town's most iconic landmarks, its longstanding relationship with the mining industry and regreening of the area.

The goal is to commemorate the sacrifices made by those in the First World War and Second World War, and the generations that have passed since those sacrifices, said Wallace R. Gillard, co-facilitator in the three-year endeavour. 

The project was organized by Wallace and wife Laura-Leigh Gillard, both artists and life-long Copper Cliff residents.

They were supported in the endeavor by the Copper Cliff Community Action Network (CAN), and the City of Greater Sudbury's Healthy Community Initiatives Fund (HCI). 

The murals came about thanks to the couple's pre-existing relationship with the CAN, who said they felt Copper Cliff could benefit from a community art project similar to those they were seeing in Downtown Sudbury. 

Laura-Leigh said the project not only beautifies the community, but is a creative outlet for the town's youth.

"We thought this might be a good way to get people into a shaded area, together, working on something as a group and at the end of it, having something we can put up and everybody can enjoy," said Laura-Leigh. 

Despite the couple's extensive artistic background, the pair said they took a back seat in this series, acting as instructors for the 30-40 individuals who assisted in the process over the two-month period. 

Participants, on the other hand, were invited to not only brainstorm the central design, but select colours, and do the majority of painting. 

“It's been a lot of joy for us to see the same families come out year after year,” said Laura-Leigh.

“The murals are getting more and more gorgeous because we have some veterans in developing murals and they're only nine years old,” said Wallace.

Among these helping hands were that of Trevor and Carly Marshall, along with their three children Joel, 11, Owen, 9, and Anna, 7. 

Carly is also a life-long resident of Copper Cliff and an active participant within the community, which she said made contributing a given when invited by the Gillards, who are long-time friends.

In contrast to his wife, Trevor said he had never contributed to a project like this before, but it turned out to be a lot of fun and a great opportunity to meet members of the community.

He said the project made him feel even more at home in the tight-knit town. 

"We enjoy going by the library and seeing our hard work up on the library for the whole community to see," said Trevor.

Margaret Julian, chair of the Copper Cliff CAN, said that although the mural was released near Remembrance Day, this was merely a happy accident. They had been planning to plant tulips that day in advance of next year's 75th anniversary of the end of Second World War, she said, but this will have to wait until they can access the grass. 

The intention behind this project instead, was to return beauty to the mining town, which Julian said has been a primary focus of the CAN these past 11 years. These murals contribute to that she said, and in addition, remind people what Copper Cliff “is all about.”

“It just reminds people of what a small town can do together,” she said.

Julian said that CAN hopes to support similar projects to this moving forward, but these will most likely be installed on or in buildings other than the public library. This will be a matter of reaching an agreement between the City of Greater Sudbury and corporations within the area she said, as projects funded through HCI must be completed on city-owned property. 

“We're just getting started,” said Laura-Leigh. 

“We both still have this passion that we want to continue to beautify our community we want to continue to be here to support and facilitate young people in expressing their creativity and finding healthy outlets to do that.”

“When we come together and we have the same goals, we can really make change happen and we can create things that are beautiful and inspiring.”

Watch a live interview with the artists below.


Keira Ferguson

About the Author: Keira Ferguson

A graduate of both Laurentian University and Cambrian College, Keira Ferguson is a New Media Reporter at
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