At the risk of busting open a hornet's nest, I've spent the last while going through all the photos I have that show the mural in the dining hall.
For almost 40 years it was a fixture in camp, something that everyone saw, but few took the opportunity to really look.
Former camp director Hal Studholme painted it in 1961, to the right of the kitchen food-serving-hasher window, to accurately depict the traditional dress of Canada’s First Peoples.
Click here to see the album I've put together:
It appears the mural - Hal painted similar ones in the old rec hall, also included in the photo album - may have been painted over in the late 1990s before the dining hall was repanelled.
However, no one, at least so far, can say with any degree of authority if that actually happened.
Perhaps Hal's mural was merely covered up by pine tongue and groove.
Is it worth looking to find out? It would take minimal effort to remove a couple of board's to take a peek. If it's still intact, perhaps then we can have a proper discussion about whether to preserve it.
Frankly, we've done a pretty poor job of keeping camp artifacts. We cram old plaques into boxes and what we think is too old and useless we either sink in the lake or burn.
Maybe this is our chance to make amends. Maybe.
"Leave it covered," Says Hal. "I did the thing with nothing but the deepest respect for the First Nations people it represented. I still hold that respect as my hallmark. Someone suggested that ‘good intentions’ don’t matter. If that is true, what else guides us? My conscience is clear in this regard.
"I will bring along to the 125th a B&W photo of the mural and have it displayed near the wall to show what once was there, just for the historical record," Hal adds. "I have loved and tried to serve Stephens for 56 years. That must count for something, maybe good intentions?
"Bless you all. Hal”
Below is a Facebook discussion on this topic that took place over several days more than a year ago.
- Bruce Owen
I don't understand Facebook but I discovered a picture that shows the Indian mural I painted in 1961, the year the dining hall was built. It was covered up in the 1970s(?) because a school teacher thought it was 'racist' and complained. I'd love to see it uncovered again before i pass on and at least get a photo. It took all summer to paint, after lights out with one 40 watt bulb for light! Thanks for the reminder. Hal