Main Street Mural Project


Apply by Friday, February 1, 2019 at 4 p.m.

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.

While artists are able to submit qualifications and letters of intent for all four sites, only one artist will be selected per site and each artist will only be awarded a single commission.

This call follows a two-stage selection process. The first stage is a Request for Qualifications (RFQ). Design concepts are not required at this time.


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.

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.

Read the full call to artists


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.

Project overview and design parameters

The artwork for the Main Street mural project should support the vibrancy of the location and help enhance the pedestrian realm and sense of place, while beautifying the streetscape.

The artwork in these public spaces should celebrate community spirit and take into account the neighbourhood’s identity and the cultural, historical, and natural attributes of the site.

The artwork must adhere to the following design parameters:

  • be an outdoor mural installation, suitable for exhibition in a public space
  • reflect community history, culture and civic pride
  • support revitalization and economic activity
  • be appropriate for the site in scale, execution, materials and creativity
  • must not promote violence, hatred or contempt against any group on the basis of colour, race, ancestry, religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, age, language or disability
  • must not include business names/logos, branded tags, acronyms, or any commercial advertising

Read the full call to artists.

Expectations of artist

Expectations of the successful artist(s) include, but may not be limited to:

  • develop a project concept, budget and a detailed design
  • oversee production and installation of the artwork
    • The artist shall be responsible for the preparation of the surface to ensure strong adhesion for durability and longevity. This will include a primer and other preparation necessary for the optimum bond of paint to, and protection of, the respective surfaces (i.e. cleaning).
    • aluminum composite panels require priming on all sides and edges to protect panels from outdoor conditions.
  • exercise safety and caution while working, utilizing personal protective equipment as necessary
  • provide a warranty for the work (minimum 5 years)
  • travel to Guelph for a minimum of three visits: to attend a technical consultation meeting; to manage the installation of the artwork; and to attend an unveiling event
  • provide the City a General Liability Insurance Certificate, adding the City of Guelph as additionally insured up to two (2) million dollars for Sites A, C and D, and five (5) million dollars for Site B, a current WSIB Certificate, and any other legislated health and safety requirements


  • If an artist does not currently have General Liability Insurance, the City of Guelph will reimburse artists for these costs. Documentation will be required.
  • The City of Guelph will pay for costs related to the promotion of this project
  • The City of Guelph will provide an anti-graffiti coating, which the artists will apply to the completed mural(s) onsite
    • The mural must be approved by City staff before this protective coating is applied
  • The City of Guelph will pay for all costs related to the installation of artwork panels at Sites A, C and D
  • Lighting is also under consideration to be a component of the site work

Read the full call to artists.


There are four separate budgets, one for each of the four sites. Each budget includes, but is not limited to, costs associated with the creation and implementation of the mural project:

  • artist fees (including artist design, research and administration)
  • assistant fees
  • studio rental costs
  • travel-related expenses (including accommodation)
  • concept plan and renderings
  • all materials (except for the anti-graffiti coating, which will be provided by the City)
  • fabrication and construction
  • freight, transportation and shipping
  • documentation, video and photography
  • insurance and taxes
  • contingency
Site Location Budget
Site A Market side wall $3,000
Site B Woodlen inlet $5,000
Site C East underpass wall $30,000
Site D West underpass $34,000

Disbursements will be made throughout the project as follows:

  • An initial payment of 50 per cent will be paid within two weeks of a signed letter of agreement
  • A second payment of 25 per cent will be paid mid-development (July)
  • A final payment of 25 per cent will be paid at installation/completion

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 February 22, 2019
Stage Two deadline April 5, 2019
Final selection May, 2019
Design development/production/fabrication Beginning May 2019
Installation/completion September 2019
Unveiling event in conjunction with Culture Days celebrations Friday September 27, 2019

Read the full call to artists.


This Request for Qualifications (RFQ) is open to professional artists and artist collectives with experience creating mural works. Artists working in any mural medium, style or technique – i.e. aerosol, mosaics, ceramics, paints – may apply.

Successful applicants must demonstrate the professional capacity to oversee the design, implementation and production of a mural project for the City of Guelph.

As per the Canada Council’s guidelines, a professional artist is defined as someone who “has specialized training in the artistic field (not necessarily in academic institutions), is recognized as a professional by his or her peers (artists working in the same artistic tradition), is committed to devoting more time to artistic activity, if possible financially, and has a history of public presentation or publication.”

Individuals who are members of the City’s council or employees of the City are not eligible to enter. In order to be eligible for this competition, entrants must be 18 years of age or older.

Selection committee and process

All applications submitted under this RFQ will be reviewed by the City’s Council-appointed Public Art Advisory Committee. City staff representatives are involved as non-voting members.

The commissioned artwork will be chosen through a two-stage selection process:

Stage One

Selection Committee will review submissions and select a maximum of three (3) short-listed artists, based on qualifications, for each site.

Stage Two

Short-listed artists will receive honoraria to develop their concept proposals and concept designs for consideration.

Read the full call to artists.

Selection criteria

Stage One applications will be assessed based on qualifications, conceptual approach and experience.

Stage One criteria

  • Letter of Intent – Artist’s vision, approach and insight is appropriate for the project.
  • Artist qualifications – Professional experience demonstrates ability to execute an outdoor mural project of this scale while adhering to budgets and timelines.
  • Artistic excellence – Examples of Artist’s work reflect relevance, innovation, originality and skilled technique.

Stage Two criteria

  • Appropriateness of proposal/renderings/design concept to project goals.
  • Artistic merit of proposal/renderings/design concept
  • Degree to which the proposal/renderings/design concept are responsive to the existing character of the site, its history and the community.
  • Technical feasibility and probability of successful completion.

Entry procedure

The City of Guelph will only accept electronically submitted applications to Deadline to apply is Friday, February 1, 2019 at 4 p.m.

Artists interested in applying for more than one location are required to submit Letters of Intent for each site.

Submission requirements

Stage One: Request for Qualifications (RFQ)

Submission must contain:

  1. Application form: On the last page of the Call to Artists.
  2. Letter of Intent (2 page maximum, 12 point font, single spaced, PDF): Describe your general artistic approach and your preliminary vision for this project. Outline your experience creating artwork for the public realm. Include proof of your ability to successfully execute an outdoor mural project of this scale within the budget and timeline required. Confirm availability to undertake this project within its timeline in Guelph. Please indicate which site you are applying for here.
  3. Resume/Curriculum vitae (3 page maximum, 12 point font, single spaced, PDF): If submitting as a collective, each member must provide a personal resume.
  4. Visual images and documentation list (3 minimum/10 maximum, JPEG files): Digital images of past work that best demonstrate your qualifications for this project. At least 2 of these images should be of similar scale and scope to the artwork being proposed in the artist’s letter of intent.
  5. Documentation list (PDF): Please include a documentation list to support visual images. Include title of work, medium, approx. dimensions, budget, location and date.

Stage two: Request for Proposal (RFP) (By invitation)

Following review of stage one submissions a maximum of three (3) short-listed artists per site will be invited to develop their concept proposals. Honoraria will be paid to each short-listed artist/artist collective who will be asked to submit the following for review:

  1. Project proposal: A detailed project description including materials and technical requirements. The proposal should include a detailed description about how the artwork will enhance the existing character of the site through scale, colour, material, texture, and content. It should explain how the mural considers the social dynamics of the location, how the artwork considers the historical, geographical and cultural features of the site, as well as its relationship to existing architecture and landscaping, and how this work will contribute to a visitor’s experience of Downtown Guelph.
  2. Concept designs and/or renderings: A scaled concept design of the proposed work or full colour renderings that physically represent the work.
  3. Budget: An itemized budget based on the project proposal. The artwork budget is inclusive of all taxes, artist fees, artist sub-consultant fees, fabrications, travel, shipping, and accommodation costs.

The Selection Committee will then select one artist or artist collective per site.

Stage two: Honoraria

Each shortlisted artist or artist collective will be awarded an honorarium to offset costs related to the creation of concept designs and/or renderings.

Site Location Budget
Site A Market side wall $300
Site B Woodlen inlet $500
Site C East underpass wall $1,500
Site D West underpass $1,700

Read the full call to artists.