Our town has many stories to tell. From explosions to inventions, the town has faced many challenges and triumphs. Our residents, both past and present, have transformed the way we live.
The Arts, Culture and Tourism (ACT) Committee, formerly the Mural Committee, maintains our inventory of outdoor murals, which include large scale murals and Bell Box murals. The history of the area and its landscape are portrayed in the murals and can be found throughout Essex Centre and Harrow.
Bell Box Murals
The Bell Box Murals Project is a program of Community Matters Toronto, a non-profit community organization that began as a neighbourhood improvement initiative. Since 2009, artists have painted over 130 murals on Bell Canada utility boxes throughout Ontario and Quebec.
The project first took off in the Town of Essex in 2013. During Fun Fest weekend, selected artists painted eight Bell Canada utility boxes in Essex Centre based on the theme "Through the Ages." Their creative interpretations of that theme produced a variety of historically significant scenes, including a mural commemorating the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813 and a woman sewing a quilt used for guiding fugitive slaves along the Underground Railroad to freedom in Essex County.
In 2016, the Bell Box Mural Project expanded to Harrow where a set of very talented artists painted eight more Bell utility boxes in July. Using the landscape and the area's history for their inspiration, the artists produced a set of murals that reflect a theme that might best be described as "Land and Lake." In the photo above, Christine Dexter puts the finishing touches on her work, "Beauty in Small Places."
Large Scale Murals
The Town of Essex has commissioned a number of large-scale murals. There are currently 14 -- 13 in Essex Centre and one in Harrow Centre.
In December 2014, muralist Charlie Johnston brought a fresh perspective to the history of the railway in Essex Centre. "Our Station Our Town" (shown in the photograph above) is a 27-panel mural that depicts key points in time, including the 1907 nitroglycerine explosion on the tracks. The panels are installed on the rear wall of the Dollar Tree on Wilson Avenue.
Earlier that summer, Access County Community Support Services (ACCESS) coordinated a mural project in Harrow on the alley wall at 21 King Street East. The project drew on the talents of local youth to create Harrow's first mural.
Learn more about our murals
Plan a walking tour of our large-scale murals in Essex Centre using our map: Essex murals and the stories they tell