Volunteers paint 850 metres of Calgary fence to create Canada's longest mural

Volunteers spent August long weekend helping the Northern Hills Community Association celebrate its 25th anniversary by painting an 850-metre long mural, believed to be the longest in the country.

'It's a lot more difficult than it is painting your own fence at home'

Canada's longest mural in Calgary

3 years ago
Duration 0:41
Residents in the northeast Calgary are creating Canada's longest mural this August long weekend. 0:41

What do you get when you combine 900 kilograms of paint with 850 metres of northeast Calgary fence?

You get Canada's longest mural, which came to life this weekend in Coventry Hills thanks to the work of hundreds of volunteers.

The project was organized by the Northern Hills Community Association (NHCA) as a way to celebrate its 25th anniversary.

"We represent about 65,000 people up here. We're the largest community association so we needed something to encompass the vast people we have up here with a vast project," said project director Laura Hack.

A volunteer paints an image of the Calgary Tower as part of the Northern Hills Community Association's mural project, which is believed to be the longest mural in Canada. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

It was resident Kim Walker who brought the idea to the community association.

"I've always driven by this fence and the sun sets in the west and it always lights up the fence all night long, I just thought it was a perfect spot for a mural," she said.

The NHCA pulled together private and corporate donations to make the project happen. The association hired local artist Mark Vazquez-MacKay to design and oversee the project. Vazquez-MacKay said it's the largest project he's ever undertaken in his career.

The theme for the mural is the history of Calgary, he said.

The mural goes back even before Calgary was called Calgary," he said. "We go back to the glaciers, and of course the first peoples here and then the colonizer, et cetera, and where we end is the flood."

Northern Hills Community Association's mural encompasses 850 metres of fenceline and required 900 kilograms of paint. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Vazquez-MacKay said he went into different communities to ask people about how they wanted to see Calgary's history represented. He outlined that vision on the fence for volunteers to fill in with paint.

"What I want to see is to have a bunch of muralists who are now going to cover the city in paint, so a lot of people are gaining confidence and knowledge through this process," he said.

The majority of those volunteers, like Sandie Caywood, don't consider themselves artists but didn't let that stop them from coming out to help. 

"It's a lot more difficult than it is painting your own fence at home," she said.

Volunteers are encouraged to help with the painting of the project, which is running from 8 a.m. to 8 a.m. until Aug. 6.