Connie Manning’s connection to the Lumber Barons now spans 26 years and is unique among Chemainus mural artists.
It was back in 1992 when Connie Greig-Manning, then an Ontario resident, was first commissioned to paint the portraits of legendary lumbermen John Humbird and H.R. MacMillan on the side of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce building.
“I’ve had three times full paint and one restoration,” pointed out Manning.
Following that first painting, the mural was taken down in 1994 because the stucco on the building was faulty. Manning moved here in 1996 and painted the mural from scratch again. It was on the wall for 15 years before fading and she restored it in 2011.
The mural came down again a few years ago in order for wall preparations to be conducted for Manning to complete another new version.
Hopefully, this is the last time such upgrades or complete replacements will be required.
“This is a special finish that’s been put on top of the stucco,” Manning explained.
“It’s been three years trying to get this wall organized.”
Manning remembers the process well leading up to her initial painting of the mural.
“I had been selected for the 10th anniversary mural project,” she noted. “That’s what this was. I was one of the short-listed artists who did portrait work.”
Manning and two other artists were invited to submit proposals for a committee of three experts. “We were all given a number so they didn’t know who the candidates were,” she noted.
The whole process was quite an undertaking, with the artists supplied photos of the building, dimensions and support documentation about the subject materials.
“I did considerably more research about these two guys,” Manning indicated. “There’s quite a story about the controversy between these two guys.”
The successful visual proposal was done as a pencil sketch by Manning. She was then required to create a small painted version of the finished product for submission to the committee before the actual wall painting.
The maquette, as it’s called, was used as the photo source to create the large painting. A projection party was held at night to outline the imagery.
An amazing team was put together to put up the scaffolding and tarps. Larry Blatchford, Ray Sapergia and Mark Corbeil made up the scaffolding team, assisted by Bill Manning. A deadline of 21 days was set to complete the mural for a July 1 celebration to coincide with Chemainus Daze and Manning set out to work.
Her sister Virginia Blatchford lived here and was valuable to Manning in so many ways.
“The artist was seen as an ambassador for Chemainus,” recalled Manning of the mural project at that time. “We were interviewed for radio stations and various newspapers.”
It was a big event in town when the mural was unveiled.
Little did Manning know at the time, she’d be back on the wall for a repainting in 1996 and refurbishing in 2011, and now again for a completely redone mural due to the conditions on the building.
“This was an opportunity with those changes to do some changes with MacMillan,” Manning noted of the current version.
“It gave us a little more height. I just modified it to take advantage of that extra space. I think using this image will be a stronger statement.”