The Murals of Sherbrooke

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Over the last fifteen years, the city of Sherbrooke, in southern Quebec, Canada, has been trying to animate its old downtown area by creating enormous murals to cover large vacant walls of the neighborhood. So far, it has been a success.

The first mural was created in 2002 as part of the city’s bicentennial anniversary celebration. Since then, more than a dozen murals have appeared at different locations at the rate of one per year. The murals, created in trompe l'oeil style, are the work of talented local artists. The project is overseen by a non-profit organization called M.U.R.I.R.S. (Murales Urbaines à Revitalisation d’Immeubles et de Réconciliation Sociale) whose goal is to create a large open-air art gallery promoting the architecture, history and culture of Sherbrooke, and to eventually develop a tourist circuit that would enable visitors to discover, through the murals, the city’s heritage and culture.

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The first mural, the Sherbrooke’s 2002 Bicentennial Mural, depicts an everyday scene in the life in Sherbrooke on the second day of June, 1902 at 2o’clock in the noon. Photo credit: destinationsherbrooke/Flickr

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This mural made in 2003 is called “Once Upon A Time In The East”. It shows 29 typical and well-known characters of the east side of the city. The mural is intended to salute the builders of the east while featuring a slice of Sherbrooke’s musical and cultural history. Photo credit: destinationsherbrooke/Flickr

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A detail from the mural “Once Upon A Time In The East”. Photo credit: David Adamson/Flickr

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“Progress in the East”, created in 2004, portrays local life in the eastern district, but this time at the end of the 19th century. Hence, Sherbrooke is portrayed as a manufacturing city welcoming new technologies: electricity, home telephones, tramways, cars, airplanes, and the daily press. Photo credit: destinationsherbrooke/Flickr

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A detail from the mural “Progress in the East”. Photo credit: Petunia_2011/Flickr

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A detail from the mural “Progress in the East”. Photo credit: David Adamson/Flickr

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“The Good Years”, created in 2005, pays tribute to Sherbrooke's southwest neighborhood for its contributions to the textile, mechanical, and metallurgy industries. Photo credit: destinationsherbrooke/Flickr

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“50 Years of Looking at it Our Way”, created in 2006, highlights a variety of past Sherbrooke residents, depicted as honored guests on a red carpet, who were involved in the regional cultural milieu distinguishing themselves on a local and even international level. Photo credit: destinationsherbrooke/Flickr

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A detail from the mural “50 Years of Looking at it Our Way”. Photo credit: Petunia_2011/Flickr

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“Tradition and Prevention”, created in 2007, depicts the former central fire station and is meant as a tribute to Sherbrooke’s fire and police services. Here we find an off-duty fireman polishing a fire engine, children sliding down a fire pole, dogs eying a fire hydrant, and policemen hanging out of upper story windows. Photo credit: destinationsherbrooke/Flickr

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A detail from the mural “Tradition and Prevention”. Photo credit: Petunia_2011/Flickr

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A detail from the mural “Tradition and Prevention”. Photo credit: townshipsheritage.com

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“100 Years of Service” commemorates the centennial of Sherbrooke’s municipalization of electrical power. Photo credit: destinationsherbrooke/Flickr

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"Legends and Mena'sen", inaugurated in 2010, presents facts and legends from the history of the Sherbrooke region. The foreground features the First Nations pulling back the existing wall like a theatre curtain, revealing characters assembled on the banks of the Saint-Francis River and the famous "Lone Pine" on a rock in the middle. Photo credit: destinationsherbrooke/Flickr

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A detail from the mural "Legends and Mena'sen". Photo credit: Petunia_2011/Flickr

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A detail from the mural "Legends and Mena'sen". Photo credit: Petunia_2011/Flickr

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“Upper Mills”, created in 2009, pays homage to some of the early businesses situated on or around the site of the present day Tourist Information Bureau. As you go down the stairs behind the Bureau leading to the Magog River Gorge, you are transported to 1867, where we find locals personalities certainly talking about the confederation. Photo credit: destinationsherbrooke/Flickr

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A detail from the mural “Upper Mills”. Photo credit: Petunia_2011/Flickr

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“Heart, Culture & Pedagogy”,created in 2011, is painted to look like a giant bookshelf. This mural is an allegory of Sherbrooke’s standing as a center of knowledge and the region’s cultural cradle, as well as a metaphor of the local literary universe, with more than 100 authors represented. Photo credit: Petunia_2011/Flickr

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A detail from the mural “Heart, Culture & Pedagogy”. Photo credit: Robert Salthouse/Flickr

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A detail from the mural “Heart, Culture & Pedagogy”. Photo credit: Robert Salthouse/Flickr

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“Destinies & Origins”, made in 2012, depicts the side of a building tilt open like a door to reveal the forests of 1792 on the background merging progressively to the current era on the foreground. Photo credit: onemorepost.com/Pinterest

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One of the most intriguing mural was created in 2013, in celebration of the Canada Summer Games that was hosted in the city of Sherbrooke. The mural depicts Sherbrooke athlete Marie-Éve Dugas, and is composed of a mosaic of one-hundred-and-eleven tiles, each painted by a different artist. Each panel is 16 inch by 16 inch and depicts individual scenes related to the Summer Games. But when mounted together, a new image —that of Marie-Éve Dugas— magically appears. Photo credit: emilepoissant.artstation.com

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A detail from the mural mosaic. Photo credit: emilepoissant.artstation.com

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A detail from the mural mosaic. Photo credit: emilepoissant.artstation.com

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