Peter Johnston
Indoor Art, Installation, Mixed Media, Permanent, Sculpture
Copper, Paint


Gracing the entranceway of Guelph’s River Run Centre is a dramatic eight-metre wide copper wall entitled Passages, created by Guelph artist Peter Johnston.

Guelph was founded by John Galt on April 23, 1827 at a spot just downstream from where the building stands. “Passages” commemorates that event and site.

Johnston superimposed an aerial view of present-day Guelph on 35 copper panels. Details from city maps and plans from different periods are layered on this aerial view and representations of historic events are depicted throughout the work. A portrait of John Galt along with excerpts from his journal, a steam locomotive, Native artifacts, the facade of the Speed Skating Rink, Basilica of Our Lady, and the maple tree felled by John Galt are all represented in this work.

The wall is curved and the copper is layered, engraved, embossed and painted like an old topographical map.

Johnson’s winning design was selected from fifty-eight submissions from across Ontario by a jury composed of Guelph ceramic artist, Heather Daymond, curator of the University of Waterloo Art Gallery, Joe Wyatt, and project architect, Daniel Teramura of Moriyama & Teshima Architects. The $18,000 commission was unveiled at the Centre’s opening on October 4 1997.

About the artist

Peter Johnston received his B.F.A. from Queen’s University and M.F.A. from the University of Guelph. He has taught sculpture at Queen’s University, St. Lawrence College, and the University of Guelph. His work is in many public and private collections and his commissions include works for Sony International, Bell Canada, the Whitby Psychiatric Hospital, the head office of the Toronto-Dominion Bank and the Bank of Montreal. The River Run Centre installation was his first major public piece.

About River Run Centre

Guelph’s signature performing arts centre overlooks the picturesque Speed River in the City’s historic downtown core near the site where Guelph was founded.River Run Centre was conceived and built by the people of Guelph for the benefit of the community and designed to serve as a premier stage for concerts, musicals, plays, dance, family shows and much more. Hundreds of volunteers and donors were involved in bringing the dream to reality.

Volunteers continue to play a vital role as ushers, ticket takers, hosts and tour guides. We salute their generous spirit and for creating the vibrant and warm atmosphere that makes River Run so special.

River Run Centre is owned and operated by the City of Guelph.


35 Woolwich St, Guelph, Ontario N1H 3V1