Cim MacDonald’s first mural, The Telephone Company, circa 1915. (Photo by Johansen Krause)

Curator keeps murals in tip-top shape

MacDonald tasked with making sure Chemainus’ attractions always look good for the public

Chemainiac Roy Summerhayes ( believes that the ‘why’ is the best starting point for a story. Good advice. So, we asked Chemainus Festival of Murals Society curator Cim MacDonald why she became involved with the society.

The answer is simple, says MacDonald, “I have always loved to paint and was offered the job of painting Mural 32, The Telephone Company – Circa 1915, in 1992.”

The mural was one of two created as part of the 10th anniversary of the Chemainus Arts and Business Council celebrations.

MacDonald was born in Scotland and came to Victoria in the ‘50s with her family. From there, it was off to Crofton in 1972 and finally to Chemainus in 1994.

After painting Mural 32, she was hired to be the Society’s curator 23 years ago and has been going strong ever since, though she has her sights set on retiring in a couple of years.

What is a curator you ask? According to Merriam-Webster: “one who has care and superintendence of something.” In the Society’s case, MacDonald cares for its world-famous outdoor art collection.

Along with repairing and restoring the society’s artwork, Macdonald has painted four other murals: one in the original Historical Series, Passing The Torch, located on the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 191, on Chemainus Road, in 2006, and three in the Emily Carr-inspired series, First Nations Villages As Seen Through The Eyes of Emily Carr, created in 2010, Keeper of Secrets – Inspired by Emily Carr, and Sacred Cedar – Inspired by Emily Carr, both painted in 2016.

And if that wasn’t enough, she painted Compass, at Kin Beach, also in 2016.

Another of MacDonald’s tasks as curator is to take board members on semi-annual inspection tours which are essential to ensure the outdoor art gallery pieces are well maintained and kept attractive for residents and visitors alike.

Murals and sculptures are inspected to determine the maintenance and touch-up required for the year and which art pieces are to be scheduled for restoration due to weather damage, breaking down or fading.

On completion of the tour, the society’s five-year mural maintenance and restoration plan is updated by treasurer Doreen Zielke, and priorities for work to be performed are set.

The spring mural tour took place on May 23, with MacDonald, Shannon Bellamy and Zielke doing the legwork.

Other than the damage created by the December wind storm and February’s heavy snowfall, the winter was relatively kind to the artwork and most of the pieces do not require repairs or maintenance.

All the murals and sculptures were cleaned in April by Wayne Gilmore of I Can See Clearly Now; however, the birds do not respect his work. MacDonald puts in hours of maintenance over the summer months keeping the murals looking their best for visitors. There are cracks, chips, and marks from various sources, as well as a steady supply of moss and weeds to be taken care of.

An author, photographer and painter, MacDonald also teaches art in Chemainus. For a complete listing of her publications, shows and accomplishments, go to

(This is the third in a series of columns provided by the Chemainus Festival of Murals Society during the prime tourism months of the season).


Keeper of Secrets, inspired by Emily Carr. (Photo submitted)

Cim MacDonald holds her certificate of appreciation for 20 years of outstanding service to the Chemainus Festival of Murals Society in 2016. (Photo submitted)

Sacred Cedar, inspired by Emily Carr, 2016. (Photo by Don Bodger)

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