Artist DeAnne Lamirande and fellow artists Andrew Horne and Emilia Jajus' mural depicts the early history of Scarborough's Birch Cliff and Oakwood neighbourhoods.

Drab Scarborough underpass transformed by mural

A dingy road underpass on Warden Avenue, just north of Hollis Avenue, has been turning heads lately, thanks to the city of Toronto’s public arts program.

What was once bland concrete has gained new life thanks to a colourful mural paying homage to the Scarborough neighbourhood’s first and most famous residents, Elizabeth and John Graves Simcoe, the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada.

Artist De Anne Lamirande of Airways Airbrushing and Sign Co., and fellow artists Andrew Horne and Emilia Jajus have been working on the project for the past few months, weather permitting.

“Hundreds of people stop by and appreciate [it],” said Lamirande, adding that the mural, which will span both sides of the roadway and it’s centre island pillars, is only half completed.

Jill Morrison is one of those locals who have watched the mural take form: “I’m really glad, it’s very beautiful. I’m really happy with it.”

Theresa Fenwick, who lives just west of the underpass, agreed: “It really draws people here.”

City Councillor Michelle Berardinetti (Ward 35) supported the project and helped the team of artists navigate the city’s arts funding program.

Lamirande says when she paints the pillars in the middle of the road she’s going to put birch trees on the south side to tie in with the existing Birch Cliff neighbourhood and oak trees on the north side to represent nearby Oakridge.

“The bridge will link the two communities together,” said Lamirande. “I’m planning unveiling the murals in June and we’re going to finish before June.”