Big birthday mural at Killarney School

Manitoba 150 mural a large collaborative effort


The Manitoba 150 mural is a project designed to recognize Manitoba’s entry into Canadian Confederation. 

For Canada’s 150, we put on a dinner theatre, but I thought we would try something else this time. Like the dinner theatre, however, I wanted to involve a lot of students. 

I don’t remember how I came up with the idea for a mural (Pinterest maybe), but once I started on the idea, I went in search of someone who could help us. 

Annie Bergen was the person I found. Annie Bergen is an artist from Whitewater, MB. She works to educate children in art, and she paints murals contractually. She came to our school for the final two weeks before Christmas and worked with the students to collectively design a mural that would represent their understanding of Manitoba’s history.

The design part of the mural was probably my favourite step. My Grade 11 history class had already done research into Manitoba’s history to prepare for this step. 

First, we had Alicia Gooden, the field school director for Brandon University’s archaeology department, visit with various artifacts that revealed the lives of Indigenous people of the area. 

Then, after the students had prepared questions, we had a Facetime conversation with Gordon Goldsborough, past-president of the Manitoba Historical Society. Along with doing some of their own research, when Annie arrived, they already had some ideas about the mural.

The design process took about two days, with students offering up various images and ideas for the mural. Students would then look at the ideas of other student groups and revisit their own plans. Gradually, the various groups combined and the different plans gelled. Once that process was complete, Annie came up with a plan.

Painting was the next process. Involving students from Grade 6-12, representing studies in history and in art, students in groups of six worked on the mural over the remaining week-and-a-half. While some students painted, others drew images that could be later adhered to the larger mural. 

While students painted, details were continually added, including images from Killarney’s Reflections and More Reflections books, so that the mural would take on a local flavour. 

The representations of Manitoba’s history on the mural are numerous. 

Reading the mural left to right, you might see that the mural moves from spring to winter, from morning to night, and from past to present. The mural also moves from south at the bottom to north at the top. Attempting to represent the diverse peoples that call Manitoba home, flowers, birds and various details are used to represent different cultural groups. The Hossack house, the UGG elevator that was recently demolished, the Flywheel Club, and the first post office are all represented. 

The project was, I think, a worthwhile one, and many students in our school can point to their personal contribution to the larger art piece. I hope to get it out of the school in the summer, and into the community, so that others can see it before it is permanently affixed to a wall in the school.


MANITOBA MURAL – Grade 6 to 12 students helped to create the massive 8 X 16 foot Manitoba 150 mural, which now sits in the Killarney School Library.