Military history mural at Dixie Road and Lakeshore Road East contends with gusts of wind and forces of gravity

In the summer the sun lights up the mural after about 3:00 pm. In the fall and winter, however, sunlight does not strike the mural except in exceptional circumstances such as when it leans back, as in this photo, in response to gusts of wind. The white sign behind it props it up when the wind is blowing from the north, but strong gusts of wind hitting the mural from behind will send it falling forward.

Mural at Dixie Road and Lakeshore Road East at an earlier stage of its life. The photo shows the mural standing straight as a soldier at attention in the summer sunlight. With the passage of time, however, the fence on which the mural is mounted has shown signs of wear and tear related to gusts of wind and forces of gravity.

Update: Ward 1 Mississauga Councillor Jim Tovey has informed us: “We will be moving the Mural to the building facade in the spring.” [End of update]


I enjoy visiting the military history mural at Dixie Road and Lakeshore Road East in Lakeview in Mississauga next to the starting point for the Hanlan Water Project.

The mural serves as an impressive all-year outdoor art exhibit. It’s especially impressive on sunny summer afternoons when the sun shines upon the surface of the mural.

An article in the Summer 2014 Arms2Arts newsletter describing how the mural, which marks the centenary of the start of the First World War in August 1914, came to be created can be accessed here.

The article notes that the three panels of the mural are the product of a community effort involving students from Peel Alternative School, participants from the Mississauga Seniors’ Centre, and summer camp participants at the Carmen Corbasson Community Centre. Over 600 volunteer hours, the article notes, were involved in the creation of the mural, which is entitled “A Century of Heroism.”

I’ve read the above-noted article just recently. I made a point of not reading it at the time that I first came across it. In that way, I could first spent time at the mural without being influenced by the back story related to its creation.

I’ve referred in previous posts to the artwork.

Click on images to get a closer view

In this view from around the fall of 2014 we see sunlight striking the mural because it's leaning over. When it's straight up, in the fall and winter the sun's rays do not reach it and the mural during those seasons remains in shadow.

As I’ve noted in a previous post, the beauty of the mural, among its other qualities, is that it’s presented in an enjoyable outdoor environment.

The mural addresses themes related to the Small Arms Ltd. building located just behind the construction fence on which the mural is mounted.

Inspiration Lakeview, Hanlan Water Project, and Small Arms Ltd.

The artwork also addresses themes related to:

Lakeview Waterfront Connection

Inspiration Lakeview

Hanlan Water Project

Canada’s First Aerodrome

First and Second World Wars, and

First Nations history

What body language communicates

The images on the three-part panel are well-planned, well-researched, and executed in a style that focuses on the body language of the subjects in the source photographs upon which many of the images are based.

A person can learn something about a person – even from a photograph or a painting based upon a photograph – by getting a sense of what their body language and posture communicates.

The text and typography are handled beautifully, as well.

If you double-click on the second photo from the top, at this post, you can see a close-up view of the artwork. As well, you can double-click on the thumbnails at the end of this post for a closer look at the images.

Images on mural are highly expressive

The level of detail in the images is kept to a minimum, as is the case with traffic signs and other signage along the nearby roadways.

The paintings tell their story quickly and effectively. The more a person learns about local and world history, the more evocative the images appear.

The mural is an integral part of the visual experience of a person walking in the area.

The photos at this post document the mural’s good work, with a little help from its friends, in addressing the forces of gravity, and the gusts of wind that occasionally strike its surface, both from the front and back.

I enjoy this mural. I often walk by it, or run by it when I go jogging.

Under windy conditions, the mural acts like a sail.

The supports for the temporary fence can only do so much after which they are overwhelmed.

When the wind is strong enough such as during storms, and is blowing from the south, it flattens the mural.

After the wind has knocked it over, the mural is propped back into position. Afterwards, the mural is again positioned more or less upright (I refer to its status as of mid-December 2014), and plastic straps - similar to ones used for plastic handcuffs - are used to attach the mural to adjoining components of the fence.

Construction fence at a construction site in Long Branch. Without the added task of mounting a mural, a regular construction fence does a good job of withstanding gusts of wind.

Construction sites often use heavy-duty fasteners to ensure the structural integrity of temporary fences.

Maintenance of structural integrity

The fence is made up of components. When the components become loosened or torn apart from each other, the structural integrity of the fence is compromised.

When the wind is blowing from the north, the mural leans away from the it and comes to rest against a white sign.

When the the wind is strong enough and blowing from the south, it separates the mural from adjoining components of the fence and blows it face down upon the walkway.

Fence has often been disassembled and re-assembled

In the current arrangement for the fence, plastic ties have been used to clip together some of the component parts.

At construction sites, as I’ve noticed, heavy-duty metal fasteners are often used to provide structural rigidity for the component parts of such fences.

Such fasteners have not been used at the mural at Dixie Road and Lakeshore Road East.

Possibly, their use would be cumbersome, as the fence has frequently been taken down for short periods, and then re-installed, when public events, some of which I’ve highlighted in previous posts, have been taking place at the Small Arms Ltd. building just south of the fence.

Metaphor of uprightness

We know that an upright bearing is a part of military life.

Uprightness can also be spoken of in metaphorical terms.

When the mural at Dixie Road and Lakeshore Road East stands up straight, you notice its demeanour. There’s a sense of order to it that is appealing.

When it’s been knocked down by the wind, or leaning away from it, the thought that comes to mind is “dereliction.” Another concept that comes to mind is “entropy.”

I’m reminded as well of the role that the weather has played in human history including military history, and the role it plays in our lives now and in the future.

It’s a great mural, and there’s a great infrastructure – a temporary construction fence – that is doing the best it can, in the circumstances, to keep the mural upright and on display.

You can double-click on thumbnails

By way of rounding out the discussion, I’ve included thumbnails of panels and details from the mural. I much enjoy the expressiveness of the images. It’s a delight to study the artwork and relate it to my rudimentary knowledge of aviation history, social history, economic history, local history, and military history.

The paintings possess a gestural quality – a freedom of brushwork – that communicates a sense of energy and spontaneity. The images also demonstrate a cartoon-like quality based upon the elimination of elements of visual data available in the archival source photographs on which many of the images are based.

The thumbnail images (below) are from a summer afternoon when the sun was shining.

Double-click on the thumbnails for a close-up view of the images.

Left panel. The photos on this page are by Jaan Pill

Central panel.

Right panel.

Detail from right panel.

Detail from right panel.

Detail from middle panel.

Detail from middle panel.

Detail from middle panel.

Detail from left panel. I especially enjoy how the body language of each figure communicates something evocative about each person's personality and demeanour. This is impressive and enjoyable artwork. I'm pleased that I have a record of it, and can view it - the analog and digital versions of it - at any time.

Detail from left panel. Again, in this image as in other ones, through body language we get a glimpse of the personality - and, in a sense, the anonymity - of each person whose image has been represented.


2 replies
  1. Diane LaPointe-Kay
    Diane LaPointe-Kay says:

    Jaan, thanks for sharing all of the wonderful stories about the Small Arms Building. It was good to see you and so many others at the site today planting flowers and cleaning up the property.

  2. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    Wonderful to read your message, Diane. Pleased you enjoy the stories about the Small Arms Building. I was so pleased to be able to visit today, and to bring some perennials from our own backyard. The work that’s being done is so beautiful to see, in such a great, historic setting. People bring so much enthusiasm and energy to the work.

    I also noted that one gardener had a clipboard. All of the work that I’ve seen around the building, including the April 6, 2015 Sledgehammer Ceremony and all of the other events and projects I’ve seen over the years have all been well-organized.

    I much enjoy the overview of the current project that a gardener has shared with me:

    “Basically the garden group is planting five of the raised planters with perennials. We are doing our best to use hardy, native plants, but the plants are being donated by members of the gardening group from our own gardens so we will use what we have to fill them in. The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority is donating mulch and Peel Region the water. This is a small project, but we think it will look much nicer than the weeds currently there.”


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