A matching set of tile mosaics built into a Canatara park washroom slated for demolition this year should be salvaged and preserved, local artists say.
The mosaics of a striding boy and girl denote the gender of entrances to the washrooms located just west of Lake Chipican in Canatara Park.
The obscure building dates to 1975, is located an out-of-the-way spot, and hasn’t been used for a decade. Council recently approved its demolition after a property inspection found it in “critical” condition.
Corinne Schieman, owner of Artopia Gallery and Framing, said the mosaics are colourful part of Canatara’s history and should be saved for future generations.
“One hundred years from now people are going to look at those and say, ‘Aren’t those magnificent?’ said Schieman, who remembers seeing them growing up.
“Let’s preserve them. Let’s get them out of the bricks and put them in a frame and put them somewhere. Somebody put a lot of time into this.”
When contacted, Sarnia Parks and Recreation director Rob Harwood said he was unaware of the mosaics. But after being sent photos, Harwood said he would discuss the issue with city staff, including whether they might be saved in a cost-effective way.
“It’s kind of cool. If there’s any way that we can salvage those before we take it down we probably will,” he said. “If there is a way, there is a will.”
Sarnia artist David Moore said he’d like to see the public art saved and relocated elsewhere in the park, perhaps as part of an in-ground display.
Illustrator Stewart Wayne Fanning, a member of the Lambton County Arts Collective, said not every piece or art needs to be preserved, but he hopes these could be “adopted” by a gallery or other institution.
“I’d hate to see them be destroyed,” he said.
There is no known record of who created the art, and once the structure is removed the ground will be reseeded with grass, the city has said.
The old barn at Camp Saredaca and the Sarnia Cricket Club building in Mike Weir Park are also scheduled for demolition this year.