There was sadness in Stephenville this week as the massive mural of a blue whale was removed from the former West Coast Training Centre.
While carrying out improvements to the facility which now accommodates the Bay St. George YMCA, workers discovered the mural was in poor shape and feared it could blow down, causing damage or injury.
The large painting was part of a project alligned with the Cabot celebrations in 1997, when a number of murals were created. The whale mural was in recognition of one of the large mammals that washed up on a beach in the community in the 1970s.
Other murals included replicas of stamps from this province’s past and a mural of Beothuk indians on the Arts and Culture Centre that wasn’t replaced when the exterior of the building was refurbished.
The only mural that was replaced depicted codfish as Newfoundland currency on the front of Kindale Public Library. Two others — one at the former Women’s Correctional Centre and the other at the Don Wright building at the College of the North Atlantic — are also in a dilapidated state and will have to come down soon if they don’t fall down first.
The murals were completed in the Don Wright building by visual arts students and their instructors, but that program no longer exists and the building sits used. There is some sadness that the murals are being removed because they are in a state of disrepair, but the fact is that they were left to the mercy of the elements with no maintenance.
With 2016 marking the 50th anniversary of the closing of the former Ernest Harmon Air Force Base, it’s sad to see these structures that highlighted history of the town and province going by the wayside.
Hopefully, before then, a project can be undertaken by the organizers of the anniversary celebration to commission new murals in the town and have them created in a more permanent way.
Many communities highlight their past through murals and there’s no reason Stephenville shouldn’t continue to do so.