DECEMBER 2, 2021 – It’s not just benches that have been disappearing all across Town. One of Qualicum Beach’s celebrated community art installations seems to have disappeared too. Commissioned by the Town of Qualicum Beach in 2013, at 9 feet x 46 feet this mural depicting a salmon run would be hard to miss, but missing it seems to be.
In June 2018, Qualicum Beach Council voted to move the salmon mural that had been displayed on the old, soon-to-be-demolished Bus Garage building on Memorial Avenue two blocks away to the Public Works building on Fern Road.
The Town’s Chief Administrative Officer at the time, Daniel Sailland, said that there were two options for relocating the salmon mural: move it to the QB Civic Centre or move it to the Town’s Public Works building on Fern Road. Sailland recommended moving the mural to the Public Works building. “It’s not a high-profile building; however, it would fit on that well and could beautify, at least, that building,” Sailland told Council. The salmon mural had been designed and constructed to be easy to move because Council knew in 2013 that the Bus Garage building was likely to be demolished in the future.
In 2018, the salmon mural was installed on the outside of the Public Works building facing west — until sometime in 2020 when it mysteriously disappeared. The salmon mural hasn’t been seen in public since.
The Town of Qualicum Beach had specifically commissioned this mural depicting salmon. Qualicum Beach’s connection to salmon is strong. The name ‘Qualicum’ is thought to have been derived from a Coast Salish First Nations word meaning “where the dog salmon run.” Salmon continue to return to not only the Big Qualicum and Little Qualicum Rivers, but also to Grandon and Beach Creeks, thanks to the combined efforts of our Town’s Public Works department and Qualicum Beach Streamkeepers volunteers.
In 2013, a Call to Artists was issued by a working group including people with experience in culture, design, marketing, fine arts and business. The design submitted by QB painter and photographer, David E. Blackmore was ultimately selected.
Prints of Qualicum Beach’s salmon mural are available from the artist’s Blackmore Studios that aptly describes the mural on his website:
“The photo mural, which is 9 feet by 46 feet, is now on the the side of the old bus barn in downtown Qualicum Beach. Drive down the main road, Memorial Drive, and when you reach the traffic light at the corner of Qualicum Foods, look toward the parking lot and there it is — a magnificent sight for all to enjoy. If you would like a copy for the wall of your home, don’t hesitate to contact David. The photo can be framed in a variety of sizes and every time it is exhibited, it is sold. People find it simply amazing.”
We would agree — many, many people found Qualicum Beach’s salmon mural amazing. Now, if only the mural would reappear to once again to lend its grace notes to our community.
Mural not the only Town asset reported missing
There appears to be a pattern emerging in Qualicum Beach of disappearing Town assets and amenities.
As many residents have pointed out this past year, benches have been disappearing all over Town, sometimes even at night when few people are around to observe Town crews in this work. For example, the bench and concrete platform located on Memorial Avenue near the Farmers Market was removed literally in the dark — and during a snowstorm — to make way for the chainsaw carved bench that the Legion has since had installed in that spot.
On June 4, 2020 Second Opinion QB reported in the article Signs of compromise? that Mayor Brian Wiese was noted on video personally removing/transporting a billboard sign bearing the Town of Qualicum Beach logo after the pandemic was first announced. The sign had been briefly installed at the QB tennis courts, but only remained there a short while before Mayor Wiese removed/relocated it.
Two signs, identical to the one Mayor Wiese was seen to be removing from the tennis courts, were later spotted installed at the Pheasant Glen Golf Resort during a time when local golf courses were campaigning to remain open during the initial phase of the pandemic. The Town of Qualicum Beach did not respond to our request for information about these signs, e.g. who ordered them, and who bore the cost — the private business Pheasant Glen Golf Course or Qualicum Beach taxpayers.
Has Qualicum Beach’s salmon mural been sold on Facebook for $100 like many of the Town’s benches were? Or, has the mural also been spirited away to someone’s private property?
Some might argue that these things are small potatoes, financially, but it’s our home and our heritage that is disappearing — and our future that is being diminished.
If anyone, including the Town of Qualicum Beach, has any information about QB’s salmon mural, please let us know — it is sorely missed.
Salmon Hymn – stunning a cappella tribute to the struggling wild salmon
In the meantime, in celebration of our salmon heritage, you might enjoy listening to a song that was commissioned for a Salmon festival by another BC municipality.
The Kamloops Daily News describes the winning song as a “haunting yet beautiful Celtic-style a cappella hymn” by a Cranbrook musician that leapt ahead of 37 other entries in the Song For The Salmon songwriting contest. Judges spent four days listening to the entries, eliminating them one by one until they decided on Anie Hepher’s Salmon Hymn.
She reworked a song she wrote 10 years ago after visiting the Adams River salmon spawning spectacle shortly after she lost her mother to cancer, but the 3-minute song is an uplifting tonic and tribute to perseverance, which we wish for all the flood-ravaged people in BC, and for the wild salmon. The audio starts at about the 25 second mark.