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Literary Selections

CM Vickers

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.

Jane Crossman
Marilyn Dumont
Donna Faye
J. F. (Jim) Foulds
Rick Garrick & Bob McKay
Marianne Jones
Emily Pauline Johnson / Tekahionwake
Jean E. Pendziwol
Sarain Stump
Catherine Moodie Vickers


First Sighting
I've travelled on foot
from the west
days, weeks, months
across plains
until this sea
surely a sea
so vast, so extraordinary
stalls my forward trek


I shall rest here for a day, a season,
perhaps forever.


~Jane Crossman
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.


~Marilyn Dumont
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,
But settled
Their accents gave them away.
Ghosts of those old newcomers
Pass us on the streets and sidewalks
Happy to see their grandchildren
At last

~Donna Faye
Location: Baggage Building Arts Centre wall

On Prince Arthur's Landing, 2011
What do I see?
Seagulls wheeling, sailboats soaring, a lighthouse watching
the harbour

while grieving elevators now strive to stand sentinel tall.

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

~Rick Garrick & Bob McKay

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.

~Marianne Jones
Location: Base of Pier 2 beyond Waterfront Plaza

highway 17
We sail through narrow channels of precambrian rock
that transverse the chasm
of earth
and heaven.

~Marianne Jones
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


~Marianne Jones
Location: Near Pond Pavilion building

Excerpt from Dawn Watch (Groundwood Books) 
It was my job to watch
for ships
& lights
& land
& logs
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

Round Dance
Don’t break this circle
Before the song is over
Because all of our people
Even the ones long gone
Are holding hands

~Sarain Stump
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