[ Special Correspondent Gao Feng] There is a world-famous mural town Chemenas on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. Since 1858, a ...
[Special Correspondent Gao Feng] There is a world-famous mural town Chemenas on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. Since 1858, a small town has been built here relying on the logging industry. The logging industry declined in the 1970s and 1980s, and the town faced a major crisis. In order to save itself, the local area sought ways to attract artists from all over the world to create murals on the streets, shops and landmarks of the town. On the one hand, it records the humanities and history of the town, and on the other hand attracts tourists and reshapes the town’s economy. There are now 53 murals here. During a summer vacation, the author came to the town with his family to admire the exquisite murals and walk into the history.
"Mural Town" is the old town of Chemainus, where the former railway station and miner community were there. The first mural that I saw when I entered the old town was "Waterwheel Picture". This is mural No. 35, officially called "Chemenus' First Sawmill". The mural is integrated with an antique-looking physical waterwheel, behind which is a quiet forest. When I stopped, I found the "check-in landmark", a huge "Lumberjack Wood Carving Painting" with no effort. The town is not big, and there are many eye-catching yellow "footprints" painted on the empty sidewalks. Following these footprints, you can know where there are murals.
The mural number 13 is called "Billy Thomas". It is painted on the outer wall of a cafe with Canadian flags. The character Billy Thomas in the picture is very important to this small town. He was born in 1874 and was a young man. The first non-indigenous boy of local origin in the town. With an amazing memory, he lived to 102 years old. This cafe is his favorite place to spend time in his later years. People passing by like to stop for a cup of coffee and listen to the old Thomas "talking about ancient times." Today, Thomas is painted on the outer wall of the cafe and continues to "talk and laugh" with visitors. On the right side of the ice cream shop, there is the No. 9 mural "Sunday in Camp No. 2," depicting a lumberjack camp that went deep into the primeval forest during the logging era of the small town. It is said that "it best reflects the daily life of the small town during the logging era".
The yellow footprint stubbornly takes us all the way to "the most worthy calligraphy"-mural No. 11 "Temporary Home" painted on the outer wall of Subway fast food restaurant. According to reports, the original location of the fast-food restaurant was where the first group of European loggers built the first "chalet", and the theme of the mural was the former "chalet" that no longer exists.
Turning back from "Temporary House", it is easy to find two murals that restore the history of Chemainus' logging era, namely No. 3 "Steam Locomotive on Chemainus Bridge" and No. 5 "Saw Fir Trees" The Lumberjack. What about before the "Logging Age"? At first, it was deserted. Later, a chief "Arbor Chest" who was shot in the chest by an arrow and survived miraculously led the tribe to settle here, but the descendants of these aborigines have been very few. The aboriginal people who now settle in the area are mainly the Kawicha tribe who moved from the nearby village of Liakson on Valdes Island after the "Logging Age". The three people depicted on mural No. 12 "Inheritance of the Indigenous Peoples" are the three ancestors of this tribe.
British Columbia is one of the first places where Chinese Americans settled in North America. How can you not visit the remains of Chinese ancestors in the mural town? There is a famous Chinese-themed mural in the small town "Reminiscences of a Chinese Boy" (pictured). A family named Zhang from Guangdong, China is one of the first Chinese families to come to Vancouver Island. The head of the family is Zhang Songhai, and the protagonist of the mural is Zhang Ning. The first locally-born Chinese child in the town. The Zhang family has run small shops for generations and opened the first pig farm and butcher shop in town. The descendants of the Zhang family still live in the small town today, and have been passed down to the ninth generation.
The prosperity of the "Logging Age" was supported and continued by the winding railway and the No. 1 Highway. The colony of British Columbia agreed to join the Canadian Commonwealth that year, that is, to build a railway line connecting the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, so as to get rid of the plight of being restricted by the United States in terms of transportation. Tens of thousands of Chinese laborers paid a huge price for the construction of this long railway. The 16th mural "Chinese Laborers in 1884" reflects this bloody and tearful history.