As part of the Prince Arthur’s Landing public art plan, various literary selections have been incorporated into the park, creating opportunities for moments of reflection along the shoreline. These modern and historical selections were written by local and regional authors, or by individuals who once lived and travelled to the area.Some of the pieces were selected through open competition and others were researched and selected by the Waterfront Development Design Team after consultation with the local writing community.
The literary selections, along with the park’s cultural and interpretive signs, together embody the spirit, history, geography, and culture of the land of Northwestern Ontario. They give expression to the significance of the site: Thousands of years of aboriginal settlement history, the western threshold of the largest freshwater "sea" in the world, the junction between the western railways and ships of the Great Lakes, and the place where western and northwestern Canadian troops bid farewell as they headed off to WWI and WII.
I've travelled on foot
from the west
days, weeks, months
until this sea
surely a sea
so vast, so extraordinary
stalls my forward trek
I shall rest here for a day, a season,
Location: Entrance to Spirit Garden
The Dimness of Mothers and Daughters
From the collection 'Green Girl Dreams Mountains' (Oolichan Books)
This is a story shaped by you
as big as your words or
as long as your sentences
this is your story
even though you haven’t told it
all or don’t know how to tell
parts of it yet. By starting the story
the story tells you, tells you how
to go on and how to look back.
Location: Steel sign at base of elliptical ramp, beside Baggage Building Arts Centre
Our grandparents brought their countries with them
In surprisingly small suitcases
To make new homes,
Their accents gave them away.
Ghosts of those old newcomers
Pass us on the streets and sidewalks
Happy to see their grandchildren
What do I hear?
Trains shunting, skateboards somersaulting, a sea bashing|a breakwater
and an aboriginal giant stirring.
~J.F. (Jim) Foulds
Location: Base of Pier 1
Lake Superior Metis
Commercial fishing by day
Lighthouse keepers by night
Freezing fish in the early winter cold
On racks at the foot of Red River Road
Towing people to safety
From mighty Superior's raging storms
Fishing well into December
On early winter's freezing waters
Sailing home from the lighthouse
During breaks in Superior's heavy winter seas
Location: To be installed at a future date
Excerpt from The Sleeping Giant
From 'Flint & Feather: The Complete Poems' (Musson Book Co. Ltd.)
When did you sink to your dreamless sleep
Out there in your thunder bed?
Where the tempests sweep,
And the waters leap,
And the storms rage overhead.
~Emily Pauline Johnson / Tekahionwake
Location: Waterfront plaza
The city is newborn each morning,
Early light setting the harbour on fire.
God's breath hovers
Above the lighthouse, the gulls, the giant,
The streets with their sleeping cars,
The empty parking lots downtown.
Gulls walk on the ice
And the Canada Geese return north.
This is the holy hour
Before the noise of coffee grinders and news reports
Before the testosterone of traffic and commerce.
This is the moment to breathe in,
To be filled to overflowing.
We sail through narrow channels of precambrian rock
that transverse the chasm
Location: Pier 3
The grudging january light
uncovers balsams and snow
in black and white:
a winter monochrome,
elegant and cold
in a gallery of ice
Location: Near Pond Pavilion building
Excerpt from Dawn Watch (Groundwood Books)
It was my job to watch
floating lost on the great inland sea
~Jean E. Pendziwol
Location: Mariner's Hall, inside the Water Garden Pavilion Building
Excerpt from The Red Sash (Groundwood Books)
Outside the palisade, the voyageurs are dancing, too. They are telling stories about cold winters and wild animals, long portages and turbulent rapids. They are wrestling and playing games. They are happy to be here after such a long winter. They are happy to be here after paddling many hard days. They are happy to celebrate rendezvous! My bright red sash blows in the breeze. I think I will dance, too.
~Jean E. Pendziwol
Location: Pond Pavillion building
Don’t break this circle
Before the song is over
Because all of our people
Even the ones long gone
Are holding hands
Location: Pier 2 Viewing Circle
Excerpt from 'Life in a Thundering Bay: Voices from Thunder Bay's Past' (River Rocks Publishing)
Edited by Tania L. Saj and Elle Andra-Warner
If I were an artist, I would choose Thunder Bay in a storm as the greatest representation of the end of the world.
~Catherine Moodie Vickers (1873)
Location: Waterfront Plaza