Main Street Mural Project

This opportunity has now closed. We thank all applicants for the time and effort taken in preparing their submissions. We received a whopping 200 entries!


The City of Guelph has received one-time funding from Ontario’s Main Street Revitalization Initiative to support and benefit rejuvenation, redevelopment, renovations and enhancements to revitalize main streets.

As directed by City Council, funding will be implemented through a competitive applications process to develop murals at various locations, specifically for the purpose of animating public spaces that support downtown tourism destinations.

This is Phase one of the funding implementation.

Artist opportunity

The City invites artists and artist collectives with exterior mural experience to submit their credentials, examples of prior experience and a preliminary vision for the development and execution of one of four site-specific, outdoor murals along Wilson Street.

Municipal context

The City of Guelph, founded in 1827, is a vibrant community of over 130,000 people. Recognized as the fourth fastest growing city in Canada, it is situated in the heart of southern Ontario, just 100 kilometres west of Toronto, Ontario.

Guelph is situated on treaty land that is steeped in rich indigenous history and home to many First Nations, Inuit and Métis people today. Archaeological evidence indicates Indigenous Peoples were present in the area now known as Guelph as early as 11,000 years ago. Up until the 15th century, the Anishinaabe people lived, farmed, and hunted in the Guelph area before their settlements moved closer to present-day Hamilton. At one point, the local First Nations population was estimated to number 30,000. Today, the people of Guelph reside on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation of the Anishinaabek Peoples, from whom this land was purchased by the British in 1784.

Guelph is best known for its historic downtown characterized by 19th-century limestone buildings, its strong focus on research and development in the agriculture field, and its dynamic festival and event scene. The City is rich in culture, architecture, parks and riverside green spaces and is home to a vibrant arts community as well as significant cultural and educational institutions.


The following sites along Wilson Street have been identified as locations for public art murals. Please identify which site you are applying for in your Letter(s) of Intent.

Site A: Market side wall

  • 12.4 feet by 5.8 feet = 71.92 square feet
  • Completed remotely using aluminum composite panels. Installation done by third party and organized by City. Overseen by selected artist.
  • Budget: $3,000

Site B: Wooden inlet (old fire door) on west side of City Hall

  • 12,8 feet by 9.2 feet = 117.76 square feet
  • The wood will be sanded in advance of the artist beginning work (the wall will need to be cleaned and a primer coat applied (suitable for latex) prior to the mural application.
  • Completed onsite
  • Scaffolding will need to be procured by the artist
  • Budget: $5,000

Site C: Underpass wall – City Hall/Guelph Farmers’ Market side

  • 61 feet by 11 feet = 671 square feet
  • Completed remotely using aluminum composite panels. Installation done by third party and organized by City. Overseen by selected artist.
  • Budget: $30,000

Site D: Underpass wall – Parkade side

  • 72 feet by 11 feet = 792 square feet
  • Completed remotely using aluminum composite panels. Installation done by third party and organized by City. Overseen by selected artist.
  • Budget: $34,000

Site history

Wilson Street has been a centre point for travel in and out of the City’s core for over 150 years. A parade route and a stop on the 1890s Sleeman streetcar rail line, this busy thoroughfare is energized by constant movement, speed and high exposure to wind, light and sound.

A streetcar makes its way up Wilson Street along the side of the Winter Fair Building, c. 1910.

Provincial winter fair building

The Provincial winter fair building, bounded by Wilson and Carden Streets, is a designated heritage property and was home to Ontario’s Winter Agricultural Fair from 1900 to the beginning of the Second World War. Horse stables were built south of the building, with an underground tunnel leading to the show ring area. The stables are now the site of Guelph Farmers’ Market, and the tunnel sealed off. The fair was suspended during World War II and in 1922 the winter fair moved to Toronto where it became the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. Most of the original building was demolished in order to create Guelph Memorial Gardens, which opened in 1948. However a Fire Hall, which occupied the west end of the building, was not affected and continued to serve as the city’s fire hall until 1971.

For a time after the closure of the fire hall, it was used to hold a lounge-pub called, The Loft, which was connected to Memorial Gardens. In the early 2000s, as planning began for a new City Hall, the front façade of the Provincial Winter Fair Building was discovered relatively intact and stable inside the Memorial Gardens arena. While demolition of Memorial Gardens and construction of the New City Hall began in 2006, the decision to incorporate the wall into the new design of City Hall and Market Square is a fitting reminder of the role that agriculture has played in our community’s history.

Postcard, City Hall and Winter Fair Building, c. 1913.

Guelph Farmers’ Market

The Guelph Farmers’ Market, currently located at the corner of Wilson and Gordon Streets, has served as a cultural and commercial anchor in Downtown Guelph for over 180 years and remains a central meeting point every Saturday morning. The building itself has served a variety of uses over the years. Originally containing horse barns for the Provincial Winter Fair, it was also used as a barracks for soldiers in training for the Second World War, and was home to the Guelph Civic Museum from 1970 to 1979.

Today, the Farmers’ Market operates year-round, with market vendors (close to 120 in peak seasons) offering a variety of products including fresh produce, meats and cheeses, baked goods, prepared foods and a collection of works from local artists.

Advertising sign for Guelph Farmers’ Market c. 1965. Courtesy of Guelph Museums 1992_28_732.

Wilson Street reconstruction project

Wilson Street has been undergoing a significant redevelopment with the construction of the Wilson Street parkade – the first parking structure to be built in Guelph in 30 years. It will start to address the current shortage of available parking spaces in Guelph’s growing downtown and is one of the first steps to implementing the Parking Master Plan.

The Wilson Street reconstruction project also includes road and streetscape upgrades on Wilson Street from Gordon Street to Macdonell Street, and the replacement of the Norfolk Street pedestrian bridge.

Wilson Street Parkade rendering by Newton Group Ltd.

Wilson Street public art project

As part of Wilson Street’s redevelopment, the Wilson Street public art project was launched.

Following a highly competitive selection process, Robert Cram and Eldon Garnet have been commissioned to create the Wilson Street public art project — a permanent, outdoor art installation — at the corner of Wilson and Gordon streets.

This sculptural installation brings together wilderness and civilization – nature and the urban.

The polished bronze deer speak to the continuing vitality of the region and our shared past and future. They are a symbol of gentleness and innocence and represent a community living together both in the wilderness of the past and the present urban moment.

Embedded in the sculptural bodies of three of the four deer are simple architectural shapes referencing the Basilica of Our Lady, the home of Guelph’s founder, John Galt – the historic Priory residence – and Guelph Farmers’ Market. At the tail section in the foremost deer there is an empty sphere, referencing the now absent Carnegie Library.

Beginning closest to Gordon Street, the deer are presented progressively emerging from the ground. It appears that the site is on a slope physically and metaphorically, beginning in the past and inclined to the present, sloping from the street up to the Farmers’ Market. The deer are placed this way to remind us that nature is precarious, and that without stewardship, it is in jeopardy.

This installation may serve as inspiration for the Main Street mural project.

Estimated timeline

The anticipated schedule for selection of an artist/artist collective and completion of the project is outlined below. The City reserves the right to modify these dates as required.

Project phase Date
Request for Quualifications (RFQ) issued December 10, 2018
RFQ submission deadline February 1, 2019
Short-listed artists selected and invited to submit proposals for Stage Two March 22, 2019
Stage Two deadline May 03, 2019
Final selection May 24, 2019
Design development/production/fabrication Beginning June 2019
Installation/completion September 2019
Unveiling event in conjunction with Culture Days celebrations Friday September 27, 2019