New Storybook Celebrates Development of Waterfront

on June 17, the City of Thunder Bay officially released The City and the Spirit Garden: Prince Arthur’s Landing, a storybook retrospective of the development of Thunder Bay’s award-winning waterfront.

With contributions by noted authors John Ralston Saul, Joseph Boyden, Jean Pendziwol and Michael Christie, The City and the Spirit Garden captures the unprecedented project by incorporating breathtaking photography and powerful narratives to document the development of the new Prince Arthur’s Landing through to its official grand opening on December 16, 2011.

“This project, in terms of scope and scale, was a first for the City of Thunder Bay, and for that reason, council was supportive when Councillor Joe Virdiramo suggested the book to commemorate the project,” said Mayor Keith Hobbs. “This book does a wonderful job of capturing the entire process, while putting a focus on the many, many people who helped make Prince Arthur’s Landing a reality through hard work, dedication, passion and partnerships. “As Mayor, I’m excited to share this story with our community, and I know those who read it will develop an even greater appreciation for Prince Arthur’s Landing.”

The City and the Spirit Garden provides an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at the development of Prince Arthur’s Landing. It includes the fact that, at the height of construction in December 2010, 14 tenders were active, with nearly 200 construction workers, plumbers, masons, landscapers and archaeologists hard at work in an area roughly the size of two football fields, with enough concrete being poured to create 16 kilometres of sidewalk.

“The book is full of beautiful photography and interesting narrative,” said Councillor Mark Bentz, Chair – Waterfront Development Committee. “A development of this size and complexity is a huge undertaking for any city, and involved countless people and processes. It’s nice to see it all captured in a way that is thoughtful, accessible and gives a real sense of what was accomplished.” For example, the section of the book titled “Creating Prince Arthur’s Landing” includes the fact that efforts to develop a multi-use park at the waterfront have been ongoing since the 1960s. “The idea never went away,” Bentz said. “It took on different forms, and was spearheaded by different people. Their visions were not realized, but the dream remained and helped us to move forward.

“It’s important we recognize those efforts. Each attempt to develop the waterfront taught the Councils and citizens of the day very important lessons about projects of this size and scope. The new Prince Arthur’s Landing was made possible by the work of many people, including those who came before us, who, through their passion for this project and our City, laid the groundwork for what has been accomplished at Prince Arthur’s Landing today.”

The City and the Spirit Garden also highlights the themes woven through Prince Arthur’s Landing, illuminating the history, the legends and the symbols drawn on by designers as they brought the park to life. Photographs capture the poetry inscribed throughout Prince Arthur’s Landing, while the essay “Jiigew (By The Water)” by Eduardo Aquino and Karen Shanski provides an in-depth examination of the two sculptures – located at the ends of Piers 1 & 3 – which together comprise the public art piece titled Jiigew, discussing its inspiration and message. Another section captures the bentwood building technique used to create the Celebration Circle, a feature located on the park’s southern edge.

In his forward, architect Calvin Brook – partner of Brook McIlroy – provides a high-level look at the overall ideas and themes that run through Prince Arthur’s Landing. In fact, the works of John Ralston Saul and Joseph Boyden were among those that informed Brook as he developed a vision for Prince Arthur’s Landing. Both authors’ eventual participation in The City and the Spirit Garden: Prince Arthur’s Landing was “deeply meaningful,” Brook writes, adding their inclusion completed “the circle of inspiration and creation.”

The City and the Spirit Garden: Prince Arthur’s Landing is dedicated to the late Katherine Dugmore. It is available at the Baggage Building Arts Centre Gift Gallery, and will be available at other retail outlets. The 108-page hardcover book measures 10.5 x 11.75 inches, and costs $29.95.