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Art project to fill Raymond Taavel Park after COVID-19 delays upgrades –



Plans to beautify a small downtown Halifax park may be on hold due to the pandemic, but a new art project is set to bring a burst of colour into the space.

Raymond Taavel Park, named for the Halifax community leader and LGBTQ activist who was killed in 2012, officially opened at last year’s candlelight vigil during the Pride festival. The park is located where Barrington and Inglis streets meet.

A small group of volunteers, named the Friends of Raymond Taavel Park, helped push for the establishment of the area. 

Adriana Afford, group member and owner of Argyle Fine Art, said they had been working toward a similar event this July with additional gardens, permanent lighting and public art.

But, due to the COVID-19 pandemic Afford said they quickly realized many of the new plans were not going to be possible, especially since the municipality told them they didn’t have the staffing to help with any changes.

Raymond Taavel is shown in a 2008 handout photo. (The Canadian Press/Shambhala Sun-Marvin Moore)

Then Darren Lewis, who was Taavel’s partner, mentioned he would still love to walk by and see some type of light in the park.

“I suggested that the point of the vigil has always been to remember those who have gone before us with the symbol of light,” Lewis said in an email.

‘A pandemic can’t dampen Raymond’s shining light’

If people couldn’t gather with lit candles, he said maybe there could be a way for images of candles to brighten the space instead. 

“Surely a pandemic can’t dampen Raymond’s shining light,” he said.

Afford said the volunteer group worked with local artist Chris Smith of Jampy Furniture to create 200 wooden candles that can be painted and decorated in any way before being placed in the grass like a lawn ornament.

‘Something really special’

“I think everybody kind of needs a little boost,” Afford said. “It does take some time to pick up one of these things and paint them. But then, the payoff is you get to see that everybody kind of worked together and did something really special.”

The project was funded by a grant from the Downtown Halifax Business Commission so the candles are free for participants.

Afford said people can decorate their candles however they like. She’s heard from people who plan to put LED lights all over theirs, while others are writing the names of people they miss from the LGBTQ community.

The candles can be picked up from Argyle Fine Art or Venus Envy, and Halifax Pride plans to distribute some as well. There’s a quick turnaround, since any finished candles must be dropped back off at these locations by noon on July 20, or the park itself between 5-6 p.m.

That’s the night of Halifax Pride’s annual candlelight vigil, which begins at Victoria Park at 8 p.m. and is in support of Black Lives Matter. Participants will march past Raymond Taavel Park, ending at Cornwallis Park for the main vigil.

About 200 candles have been created. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

Adam Reid, executive director of Halifax Pride, said the full event can’t be held at the Taavel Park this year since it’s too small for people to physically distance, but anyone participating can take a moment to place their decorated candle in the grass as they go by.

When thinking about this art project, Reid said it’s important because for so long the LGBTQ community felt like they had to hide who they were, and often were fearful to record their own history.

“We just need to identify for the next generation of young people like who are the leaders, who should they be emulating, who should they be looking to for inspiration,” he said.

And for those who might think that this project isn’t for them if they’re not in the LGBTQ community, Afford said it’s meant to be inclusive to anybody who wants to remember Taavel, but also other people who did great things in their community or just take part in a beautiful art installation.

“I think it will hopefully uplift a lot of people. It definitely will bring a lot of happiness to Raymond’s partner, but anyone that would have known him I think it will be extra special for them,” she said.

“Even if you didn’t know him and you were just driving past the park, just to be able to see something like that it would be pretty great.”

Afford also said this is a great project for families to sit down together and create something while learning about Taavel’s legacy.

The wooden candles will be on display for about a week, and then they will then be collected and stored safely for use in future years.

For those who aren’t in Halifax, there’s an option to print out a colouring page to follow along with the project from a distance, which was originally suggested by Taavel’s family in Ontario.

Park upgrades

The park had some upgrades last year following its renaming, including new sod, a park sign with information about Taavel, and a new garbage can, according to an email from municipal spokesperson Maggie-Jane Spray. 

Picnic tables have returned to the park this year, while there is also now a planter installed by the volunteer group.

“Consideration will be given to other park improvements for future implementation, while working with the loved ones of Raymond,” Spray said.


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Calgary community takes art to the streets as COVID-19 shutters galleries – The Globe and Mail



Residents in the Calgary community of Sunnyside have taken to getting their garages and fences painted with murals, brightening up the community.

Todd Korol/Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

It has been a tough year for art around the world. Artists have not had a venue to hang their art. Galleries have locked the doors trying to ensure the safety of patrons and staff.

In the little community of Sunnyside in northwest Calgary, more than 20 new pieces of art have been added to the community’s collection. Their collection is free to anyone who walks down the alleyways – the canvases are the residences’ garage doors.

A poem is posted outside a home on a fence post in the community of Sunnyside, part of one of Canada’s largest art walks.

Todd Korol/Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

What started out as a few homeowners painting murals on their garage doors has now grown into one of Canada’s largest outdoor art walks, featuring murals of polar bears, Olympic cross-country skiers, magpies and much more.

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“It’s snowballing now,” homeowner Christie Page says. “It’s become a place where people from outside the city come and look at our art. It’s a place you want to stop and visit. I feel it’s made our neighbourhood safer and better for businesses.”

A golden moose sculpture stands on a front porch in Sunnyside, on Nov. 21, 2020.

Todd Korol/Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

Ms. Page has created an Instagram page for the art walk; she’s also added it as a location on Google Maps.

This past summer, the community received a grant to get more garages painted, helping struggling city artists in the process.

One of the garages of Sunnyside, part of one of Canada’s largest art walks.

Todd Korol/Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

In these days of physical distancing, art fans can safely visit the neighbourhood and view the outdoor exhibition that has grown with sculptures, small outdoor art galleries and painted fences.

“You can hire an artist, or just get some paint and paint it yourself. Draw a stick man or a flower,” Ms. Page says.

“It all makes our neighbourhood better.”

Todd Korol/Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

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Art Gabor initiated bantam football to give young athletes a chance –



In 1958, when Chippewa Secondary School opened and many NBCI & VS students transferred to the new high school a bitter rivalry was born. NBCI & VS became ACS – Algonquin Composite School.

The official reason they called it Composite is because the school offered arts and science, commercial and technical disciplines. The down-low chatter was that A.S.S. would be misinterpreted on banners, signs, and school uniforms and jackets. Anyway, shortly thereafter Mr. Art Gabor, formerly of NBCI &VS and now the head physical education teacher at the new school, came up with the brilliant idea to create a new level of football. The ‘bantam’ level was created but only three high schools initially participated for the Art Gabor Trophy. Chippewa, ACS, and Mattawa were the teams.

See relatedArt Gabor obituary

Of course, with a new school, the team had new equipment and uniforms and a beautiful practice field at the rear of the school. Our old school, ACS had old equipment, from the 40s I am sure, and not a regulation field to the side of the school bordered by the railway tracks, Bourke Playground, and houses on Jane Street.

If the junior or senior boys football teams were practicing on the school field the bantam team was relegated to the Bourke Playground.

I remember one practice where our full back, Brian Wiggins, came sweeping around the left end and I was playing defensive halfback. He went between me and the boards for the playground rink, so instead of tackling him, I body checked him into the boards. Both Frenchy Kennedy and Moe Drolet, who were the coaches for our team, started to laugh and asked me why I did that. I told them I figured that was the only way to stop Brian without me possibly getting slivers in my hands.

Maurice ‘Moe’ Drolet and Laurence ‘Frenchy’ Kennedy were senior football players in the technical program at ACS who took time out to coach us young and very inexperienced football wannabees.

There was no organized football until you got to high school and junior football went up to 16 years of age so you could be 13 and 5 foot 2 and 98 pounds, as I was in Grade 9, and be up against players 90 pounds heavier than you. So, by starting the bantam program, that increased the number of possible future junior and senior players who now knew the fundamentals of the game. Art Gabor was very forward-thinking in this respect.

Anyway, the 1961 ACS Bantam Football Team played two memorable games that I would appreciate you bearing with me for my remembrances of these two games.

The first game was against the Mattawa High School and the game was played in Mattawa. Mr. Norm Grant was the assigned teacher to accompany the team on the rented bus as Moe and Frenchy were students and could not be officially assigned the duty of responsibility for all team members.

We arrived in Mattawa and were not permitted to go into the school to dress. We changed on the bus and the game got underway. Algonquin ran up 56 points and Mattawa had not had a sniff at our goal line.

A lot of our players were playing both ways so I approached the two captains, Roger Bowness and Brian Wiggins, and suggested we let Mattawa score a touchdown. I do not believe they had scored any points that year to that point.

Everyone was in agreement except for my defensive secondary partner, who we shall call player X. He was one of our offensive half backs and he stated that the Mattawa players were trying to gouge his eyes, pulling the hair on his legs and the centre for Mattawa, who had a ‘steel’ helmet was trying to pile drive player X into the ground every time there was a pile-up.

Anyway, on the next play, we let the Mattawa ball carrier go through the line and as he made for the goal line, player X tackled him. On the next play, we had to tackle player X so Mattawa could score. They did and the game ended up 56-6.

After the game, the high school facilities were opened to us and there was even a small food and drink offering made available. This was a good life lesson in sportsmanship that team sports teach young players.

We could not beat Chippewa in the two regular-season games we played them. They had big Dusty Marshall at fullback, Gordie McGuinty was their quarterback and Bill Johnson was their swift back fielder.

We got into the final game for the Gabor Trophy, which we had won the year before, and we were bound and determined to beat Chippewa that day. We did not have a home field but Chippewa had won all of their games so the game was played at Chippewa on a very cold and windy afternoon in late October.

No one could score in that game and there was very little time left on the clock. The Chippewa team had the ball on our 20-yard line. Their kicker, Alan Gray, booted the ball past our goal line about 10 yards deep. Our player, Sid Price, caught the football and booted it back out into the playing field. I believe Alan Gray retrieved the ball and booted it back into the scoring area. Again, Sid Price fielded the ball and tried to run out of our end zone. He was tackled about two yards deep in the end zone and we lost the game 1-0.

Those were two very memorable games that went different ways but were enjoyable just the same.

The player for Mattawa with the steel helmet was well known in sporting circles in and around North Bay. His name was Corky Lessard and he played with only one arm – both football and fastball.

Player X will not be named but I will give you a big hint of who he is: He was a very fast-skating right winger for the North Bay Trappers Junior teams in the mid-60s and he scored eight goals on Espanola Eagles goalie, Paul Menard, one Sunday afternoon I believe in 1965.

Sadly, our two coaches, Maurice ‘Moe’ Drolet and Laurence ‘Frenchy’ Kennedy both passed away in vehicle accidents in their very young years. I will never forget them for their generosity of time and expertise in mentoring some young football players.

Our Captain in 1961 – a more than wonderful guy – also passed away at 16 years of age. Brian Wiggins was not with us too long but he was a joy to know and a very good guy in all respects.

Story originally posted in the A Bit of the Bay nostalgia Facebook Group, republished with permission from author Brian Darling.

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Former Vancouver Canucks goalie’s art featured in Kelowna Art Gallery exhibition



Richard Brodeur used to make his living holding a goalie stick, but these days, the man formerly known as “King Richard” by Vancouver Canucks fans, is more likely to be found with a paintbrush in his hand.

“It’s always a challenge like [when] you play professional hockey, you have a challenge every day, every game and then I feel the same every time with a painting. It’s a challenge every time you face the canvas,” said Brodeur.

The new Okanagan resident is one of three artists featured at the Kelowna Art Gallery in an exhibit that reveals the story behind the artwork.

“I’ve been dealing with depression for over 30 years and I have had about 13 concussions when I played so that didn’t help,” said Brodeur. “You gotta find something that will get you out of it or help you anyway and that’s what my painting did.”

The Art Council of the Central Okanagan is striving to bring art to the community safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

“With what’s going on in the world there is really nothing we can do to control it but we can control our own environment,” said Kirsteen McCullouch, Arts Council of the Central Okanagan executive director.

“I think it’s really critical to bring joy and peace and harmony in a time of darkness and through art, we do that.”

Storytellers also feature Summerland artist Danielle Krysa and Vernon’s Jude Clarke. Clarke’s story is inspired by her environment.

“The lake made a huge impact on me, water is really a beautiful environment for me I was in the water, I was on the water, I was around the water and hiking in the hills all the time,” said Clarke.

As for Brodeur, his work is telling the story of his childhood, playing pick up hockey on outdoor rinks growing up in Quebec.

The exhibit will be open to the public until Jan. 31 at the Kelowna Art Gallery.

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