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Former mayor immortalized with mural
West End BIZ and artists paint picture of Bill Norrie’s life
The West End BIZ unveiled its latest mural, honouring former mayor Bill Norrie, on Sept. 17.
Well, in truth, the wind blew most of the drapes off before the big reveal. During the ceremony from 9:30 to 10 a.m., West End BIZ employees held onto the drapes, which were stubbornly billowing in the breeze, in an attempt to conceal the artwork underneath.
Guests took their seats in chairs on a blocked-off part of Langside Street for the ceremony. Among those present were Mayor Sam Katz, Lloyd Axworthy, and Coun. Paula Havixbeck (Charleswood — Tuxedo), as well as friends and family members of Norrie.
Norrie served as Mayor of Winnipeg from 1979 to 1992. Norrie was known by many for his passion of the West End. He had grown up in the West End, attending Daniel McIntyre Collegiate and United College (University of Winnipeg). The mural was created to honour Norrie’s roots in and his contributions to the West End.
The mural, located on the side of a laundromat at 538 Ellice Ave., was a collaboration between the West End BIZ and artists Michel Saint Hilaire and Mandy van Leeuwen.
Saint Hilaire said the best way to incorporate the West End BIZ’s ideas in a way that made sense was to portray them in an office setting.
"This way, we could put stuff on shelves. What they liked us to put in it were diplomas, the Golden Boy, something about the Forks," Saint Hilaire listed.
The mural took about five weeks to complete, with the artists putting in around seven hours a day.
In the mural, Norrie is seen sitting at his desk. Surrounding him are many objects that symbolize his achievements in life.
His granddaughter, Jennifer Norrie, liked the inclusion of a panda statue in the mural.
"It tells about his bringing pandas to the Assiniboine Park Zoo when he was mayor," Jennifer said.
Norrie's wife Helen also appreciated that Saint Hilaire and van Leeuwen incorporated many things that were important to Norrie, including Leo Mol’s Tom Lamb sculpture. Helen is featured in the mural as well, as a photograph on Norrie’s desk.
"Oh, yes, I think it looks quite good," Helen said with a laugh.
Saint Hilaire and van Leeuwen want people to know the mural was done completely freehand.
"It was just figuring it out on scaffold, coming off, looking from afar — ‘is that nose right?,’" Saint Hilaire said.
The Bill Norrie mural is the 70th mural in the West End BIZ’s collection.
For more information about the murals in the West End, visit westendbiz.ca
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