Masonry saw saves mosaics from demolition tile and error

Corinne Schieman, left, and Vickie Swales of the Sarnia Lambton Public Sculpture committee inspect the two mosaics cut from a doomed washroom with Sarnia parks and recreation director Rob Harwood. Troy Shantz

Troy Shantz

Art enthusiasts can relax: the two mosaics mounted on a Canatara washroom and slated for demolition have been saved.

City workers safely removed the decorative works last week from the decommissioned structure, located just west of Lake Chipican.

Using a masonry saw and some heavy lifting they carefully removed the mosaics, which stayed intact in their original mortar bases.

“Whenever they did this, they did it really good. It was hard stuff and it was well built,” said parks supervisor Jim Harkins, who estimated each weighed 150 pounds (68 kg).

The mosaics of a striding boy and girl were used to denote the gender of entrances at the brick washrooms. Council recently approved the demolition of the building after a property inspection found it in “critical” condition.

The mosaics will sit safely in storage until it’s determined where and how they’ll be displayed, said parks and recreation director Rob Harwood.

City Hall has also discovered the original artist who is alive and living in Sarnia, said Harwood. He wouldn’t disclose the artist’s identity until he or she gives permission, but said he hopes the artist will provide some input on where the mosaics should go.

“It’s likely that we’re going to collaborate with the local art community to find a suitable home,” Harwood said.

Corinne Schieman and Vickie Swales of the Sarnia Lambton Public Sculpture committee have offered to help fund the new installation – wherever that might be.

“We’ll figure it out,” said Swales. “They’re definitely saved so that’s all that matters.”

The washrooms were built in 1975 but haven’t been used for a decade, according to a building report. The structure will be demolished once the surrounding ground dries out, Harwood said.

Once it’s removed the ground will be reseeded with grass.

The old barn at Camp Saredaca and the Sarnia Cricket Club building in Mike Weir Park are also scheduled for demolition this year.