Category Archives: Small Arms Inspection Building

Doors Open to Amazing Art, Architecture, and Vision


Spoiler alert! Don’t look at the interior photographs of the Small Arms Inspection Building below, if you want to be surprised completely at  2013 Doors Open Mississauga art show and WWII related demos Saturday, September 28, 10 am – 4 pm. 

small-arms-turquoise-door-window-8433 small-arms-tree-broken-window8452 small-arms-wood-ceiling-8468 small-arms-skylight-IMG_8477 small-arms-garage-door8492 small-arms-cupboard8518 small-arms-man-at-door-8532 small-arms-windows-welding-IMG_8733 small-arms-water-tower-8594 save-as-small-arms--main-room-8651 small-arms-metalIMG_8667 small-arms-dance-studio8552This remarkable 144,000 sq. ft. architecture has a rich history involving the war effort (where the Lee-Enfield Rifle was manufactured) , women’s independence, and the revitalization of Lakeview, Mississauga (then Longbranch). It sits empty now, but  is it any wonder that the space, high ceilings, huge windows and skylights,have inspired plans to renovate it as a world-class  arts centre of working artist studios, performance space, art galleries, a museum and coffee shop?

To give you a hint of just how dynamic this centre will be, 30 artists (including myself)  will show and sell their art. My portraits of people and polar bears will be at the end of the hall on the first floor.

Also in the works! Heather Brissenden will sing hits from the Blitz, the Lorne Scots (this was once their home, too) machine gun teams will compete, The Honorary Colonel Gerald Haddon will speak about J.A.D. McCurdy, the Canadian aviation pioneer  and much, much more (really!).

There is plenty of free parking. Just find your way to Lakeshore Rd., and Dixie Rd, Mississauga, ON.  For more info on what’s on, how to get there, and about the Small Arms itself, please go to www.smallarms.ca

 

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Polar Bears Found at Small Arms, Doors Open Mississauga


Polar bear digital art copyrigt Christine Montague.

To learn how this polar bear was found at the Small Arms Building in Mississauga, scroll down.  Digital art Copyright Christine Montague.

This Saturday, September 28, from 10 am – 4 pm, my portraits and polar bear oil paintings will be for show and sale at the Small Arms Inspection Building,  as part of Doors Open Mississauga 2013. The Small Arms Building is near and dear to my heart. Why?

The Small Arms Building is a 144,000 sq.ft example of WWII  industrial architecture. During the war,  over 40,000  women, “Rosie the Riveters“, came from all over Canada to work at this site, where they manufactured  about 1 million Lee-Enfield rifles.

The Lakeview Legacy Foundation, of which I was proudly a founding member,  has set out to repurpose this impressive, but empty building into a desperately needed arts centre of working artists studios, performance space, art galleries, and museum. In other words, arms to arts. (Read more about it here)

And, to help you envision just how dynamic this centre will be when it houses studios for working visual artists, (and musicians, actors, dancers,  filmmakers, creative scientists, etc.) over 20 artists (including me)  will each set up shop in an office. We’ll show our craft as if a working day in our studios, and offer work for sale.

But that’s not all.

The Honorary Colonel Gerald Haddon will speak about J.A.D. McCurdy, the Canadian aviation pioneer.

Heather Brissenden will sing Hits of the Blitz from 10:00 to 14:00.

The Lorne Scots machine gun teams will compete through out the day.

The 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion   will also be there.

You can see a Sherman tank.

And best of all, you will have the rare opportunity to meet some of the wonderful  Rosie the Riveters who actually worked at Small Arms.

http://www.smallarms.ca/SmallArms.html for contact info, schedule, & parking (it’s free!). P.S. a very short walk west from Longbranch Go Station, Toronto.

Now, can you find the polar bear in the photos below?

Floors of Small Arms. Copyright Christine Montague. Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

Floors of Small Arms. Do you see the polar bear? Scroll down to the next photo. Copyright Christine Montague 2013.

Polar bear hiding in the floors of small arms..

There he is! Polar bear hiding in the floors of small arms.(Guess who’s learning Photoshop?) Copyright Christine Montague 2013

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Remembrance Day: It’s Not Black & White. Red Poppies, Art & Stories


"It's Not Black & White" Canadian Remembrance Day photo & poppy Copyright Christine Montague

          The 24th Ottawa War Memorial 
 
On November 11, 2010, shortly before 11 a.m., I stood alone at the cenotaph near my countryside artist studio. Thousands of miles away, my first-born son  was stationed  in a FOB, i.e. a forward operating base in Afghanistan. He had been gone for months, and still had a couple of months yet to serve in his extended tour.

I have always observed Remembrance Day,  but never gave it deep thought. In school, I liked to draw poppies and was often the one chosen to recite “In Flanders Field” at assembly. I appreciated that my children’s elementary schools put great effort into their Remembrance Day ceremonies, and sometimes I helped. But other than that?

Well, my age is showing. When I was born, in the dawn before internet and satellite tv, heck, colour tv would have been good, anecdotes about any war were ancient history to me.  You might as well have been talking about ancient Egyptians (except they were cooler).

When I was an older teenager, my mom  revealed to me, like a guilty secret, instead of the sad story it was, that she had been married before. Her husband, who she had adored, had been killed in WW2 and was buried somewhere in France.  Even though this was obviously a pivotal event in my mother’s life, my teenage brain saw this as a tragic, romantic tale of love, not a story about war.  Still, my mom was old , and  this was all before my time, so even that  story got filed right along those of my WW1 & WW2 veteran family members.

But oh, what a difference  30 years and a truckload of hindsight makes.

My children are now at the age that my grandparents, parents, and their siblings were when they had their wartime experiences.   I can better imagine my predecessors as young people, now that I have a houseful of them myself. Much easier now to imagine them enlisting for idealistic adventure.  Much sadder to imagine the danger,  loneliness, sorrow, exhaustion, terror, and trauma they faced thousands of miles from home.

Now the stories make more sense. Stories of  obedience, endurance and perseverance, and of camaraderie, compassion, and bravery. And if they were lucky to come home, and not all my family members were, they brought secrets, war wounds and, sometimes, a war bride.

Oh, WW1, WW2, Afghanistan.

That is what I thought of as I stood, now joined by a few others, at that cenotaph that day. I snapped a photo of the cenotaph with my phone,  e-mailed the pic to my son telling him I loved him with all my heart, and that the good folk at the cenotaph wished him well.

To my amazement, he answered me right back.

War is the blackest foolishness, but iPhones, black or white, are mighty handy in wartime.

If you would like to send a Christmas wish to those military still serving overseas, click http://www.sears.ca/custom-content/operation-wish?extid=050211_ca_Vanity_EN_Unknown_Operationwish

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Doors Open for Small Arms & Big Vision


Small Arms. Doors Open Mississauga 2011. World War 2 building has great potential for art centre

This Saturday, October 1st, is  Doors Open Mississauga 2011, and Day 2 of the  Canadian Culture Days.  If you have even the slightest interest in anything having to do with the arts, heritage, your family, your city, real estate, entertainment , or, quite simply, being wowed, you owe it to yourself (and your family and friends) to seize this chance to tour the remarkable Small Arms Building, 1352 Lakeshore Road East, Mississauga (416) 661-6600 ext.5223 (Free parking, wheelchair accessible).

Built in 1941, this 144, 000 sq. ft. office and small arms inspection building was part of  Small Arms Ltd, a World War 2 arms manufacturer. The company has an incredible wartime history. Tens of thousands of women came from across Canada to work there, and the dormitories and houses built for them revitalized the Lakeview area of Mississauga. The Arsenal Lands upon which it sits  was home to the Long Branch Rifle Ranges, to Canada’s first aerodrome and a military flight training school.

So what does this have to do with you, your family, the arts, real estate, and everything else I listed?

A dedicated volunteer group, The Lake Legacy Foundation (with whom I’ve had the privilege to work with), has worked tirelessly to lay the ground work for Small Arms to repurpose it as a centre of arts and culture.

You may be wondering, what, exactly , is a centre of arts and culture, and what does it have to do with me?

Well, for starters, this space will offer much-needed affordable work and performance space  for Mississauga’s artist and cultural groups. Mississauga is just over 30 years old. Older buildings with minimal dollars per square foot rental are pretty well nonexistent, so independent artists must leave our city to live and work. This venue will offer studios of all kinds: from personal, affordable live work space for visual artists (painting, ceramics, sculpture & more) to  practice space for theatre, dance and music. Theatres for performance and galleries that both show and sell, will introduce us to our artists.  Small Arms has the potential to help Mississauga keep its creative people (especially the young ones), and to  attract other cultural sorts to the city as well.

The building itself, now saved from demolition,  will be a living museum with creative tips of the hat to its historic roots and its Rosie the Riveter inhabitants throughout.

The Lakeview community will have a long overdue cultural jewel in its crown.

All of Mississauga (and the GTA and beyond) will have an inspirational venue to visit , and I mean inspirational in every way!  A cultural venue where you can shop, learn, teach, exhibit, view, entertain or be entertained, work and sell, and become involved.  A place to hang out alone, or with family, or your peers.  Time spent there may be contemplative or celebratory. High ceilings, big windows, at the edge of a great lake.

Don’t miss this chance to see what could be.

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The 24th: Art & Legacy.


Oil painting. Youth climbs carefree on Ottawa War Memorial. The legacy of those who served. Copyright Christine Montague

In a short while the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will pay a visit to The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the National War Memorial “The Response” in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The Great War is a part of our shared history and with many of us still connected to a family history of relatives who fought, this striking memorial is a testament to all we have here in Canada now. When I painted this work of my son climbing on this striking memorial as a surprise gift for  his 18th birthday, little did I realize at the same time he had enlisted as a reservist. There are 23 larger than life figures on this dramatic statue and he is the 24th. His freedom symbolizes what these young soldiers fought and sacrificed for. The grandfather of a visitor to my Williams mill studio had been one of the models for this work. I wish I  had thought to ask her more questions, like his name, so it too, could live on.

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“Octopus”. Limbo Series. Photography of World War II Buildings in waiting.


"Stephenville's Octapus" Photo copyright Christine Montague 2010

"Stephenville's octopus" Photo copyright Christine Montague 2010

These tentacles come from the bowels of the earth not the nearby ocean. World War II Air Force Pilots would wait here in the underground rooms the tunnels connect to. – ready to disembark at a moments notice. This building with its central body, and tunnel tentacles is known as “The Octopus” Limbo Series. World War II buildings in waiting. Stephenville, Newfoundland. Copy right Christine Montague.

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Demolition by Neglect. Beautiful Stephenville WW2 Buildings in Limbo.


Photograph copyright Christine Montague

"Monument" Airport hanger photo, Stephenville, Newfoundland. Copyright Christine Montague 2010

Stephenville, Newfoundland  was home to a United States Air Force Base in World War II.  This was an enormous base, and the last stop before Europe. Although many of the hangers are now gone, there are still many buildings from this period remaining. Barracks and other buildings that housed soldiers are now transformed into lovely apartments and private homes. Creative uses have been found for some of the hangers that exist, but some, like in the photo above, are vacant and in limbo, awaiting the next entrepreneurial endeavor. I imagine there are a few people in town who would like to see these vacant shells torn down. I hope they remain up. I would love to see  a creative use for these  beautiful giants with the dramatic auras.

I spent some time photographing the outside of some of these Stephenville WWII buildings. They compliment the photos I have been privileged to take of the interior of the Small Arms Inspection Building in Mississauga, Ontario. During the second world war, over 40,000 women came from across Canada to work in the Lee Enfield Rifle plant there. The Lake View Legacy Project is committed to revitalizing this building as a creative centre with artist studios, theatres, exhibition space, brown field studies & more. Although it, too, sat in  limbo, creativity , co-operation & collaboration has resulted in a promising & positive future for this WWII space in Mississauga.

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09/09/09 Lucky Numbers for Mississauga Artists (well, most of them)


Today, on the ninth hour of the ninth day of the ninth month of the ninth year, The Lakeview Legacy Project , a non profit organization, was to stand before Mayor Hazel McCallion & the Mississauga City Council to ensure that the proposed Small Arms Building creativity centre would receive the infrastructure repair funding it so richly deserves. I wondered, (as both a visual artist and with AIM, Artists in Mississauga) would the 09/09/09 date bring good news or not for the arts &  artists in Mississauga?

Now, I knew that  the team that makes up the Legacy Project has such experience, dedication and vision, that I really needn’t worry. But a little chink in my faith resulted when, as just before I headed out the door to the council meeting, my teenage daughter asked for a whopping $300 for school, and that the number on the cheque I made out  was  333! (add them up- they equal 9)

My anxiety grew, when stuck in traffic snarled by back- to – school buses, and construction everywhere, it took me 3x as long to reach city hall. Then, thinking I was lucky to grab a free  parking spot behind the Living Arts Centre – it wasn’t till I was far from my car  – I saw there were now new automated ticket booths. With no  change on hand, I couldn’t get mine to work with my charge card. I had the joy of adding some feelings of inadequacy to those feelings of frustration at being late… until  I passed a  gentleman equally perplexed at getting his card to work.

I moved my car to the Square One Parking lot instead.

Racing over to city hall, I held the door open for an out of breath young man who, all dressed up, looked quite perturbed as he ran up the stairs towards me. Aha! a fellow witness also late to this historic event!

But then, across the great hall, little flower girls dressed up in white and pressed against the glass – caught my eye . A wedding, and he made it.

Jim Tovey, Chair of the Lakeview Legacy Project, and the Lakeview Ratepayers Association was presenting his case as I entered the Council Chambers. With no further a due Council unanimously agreed the cause was worthy and deserving. Huzzah!

And then, but with a little more difficulty, the Art Gallery of Mississauga, also got approval for funds toward their much needed and deserved expansion ideas. Huzzah again!

Happily, I returned to my car only to find a ticket on my windshield. Somewhere in time, what had been part of a large mall parking lot, still looked like the mall’s parking lot, and has no obvious signs otherwise, at least not to a frustrated motorist,  was now just for private use by who knows who?!?

I could pull a “23” story line and point out that the ticket # ended in 9 (which it did) and so did the officer’s number. But that’s not the real point. The real point is that Mississauga is getting all grown up. It is getting mature enough enough to recognize that the arts matter, and sometimes, the value of money spent is not just about numbers. And that the nuisance of traffic, and parking that has to be paid for (sigh) are simply growing pains of coming of age.

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Big heART Ideas for Mississauga Small Arms Building


World War 2 building has great potential for art centre

World War 2 building has great potential for art centre

Potential art centre. Possible coffee bar & art shop opens to picnic area

Potential art centre. Possible coffee bar & art shop opens to picnic area

In the blog earlier today, I wrote about the thoughtful & inclusive process Mississauga has undergone to research the betterment of arts and culture in the city. The creation of venues for culture, heritage and education in Mississauga, has pretty well taken a back seat to 30 years of building houses, and attracting business. Pretty well complete, the city has outgrown its “bedroom community” moniker. More people are coming into Mississauga to work than leave, and guess what? A lot of artists want to work, learn, perform, teach, exhibit, sell, share, mentor, here too. But where?

Well, AIM, (Artists in Mississauga) and the Lakeview Ratepayers Association, may have the solution! Sitting on Lakeshore Blvd East, with Lake Ontario to its back is the 33,000 square foot Small Arms Inspection Office Building. This building has everything one could envision for a world level arts (all arts) centre.

The positives:

· It is ENORMOUS- solving city’s desperately needed room for studios (visual art , dance, sound, & more), workshops, installations, cafe, galleries, heritage museum

· fabulous lighting everywhere – huge windows, skylights

· high ceilings (which do play a part in creativity – high ceilings, big ideas)

· Location, location, location. By the lake, Lakeshore Rd & Mississauga Transit, by Longbranch Go, by TTC streetcar, by Marie Curtis Park, by future parks and Lakeview’s Heritage Plan

· Plenty of free parking space

· handy to plenty of walk by traffic – especially when those parks go in

· Large welding area- large garage doors – set to go as metal sculpture centre. Who else has one of those?

· Important potential for tourism, arts, culture, and citizen destination

· Important potential for artist to sell, work, interact, teach, exhibit, Stay in their city to create!

· Heritage: This building with its historical connections to World War 2, feminism, 40’s architecture, & Mississauga development deserves to be saved, and used well. It embodies one of Mississauga’s most exciting historical stories.

The Negatives? We’re not in there..yet.

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Mississauga Grows up. A story of hope for artists. Ending Unknown.


My city, Mississauga, located in Ontario, Canada,  is  a new city – only 30 years young. It is remarkably, for being so young,  Canada’s 6th largest city. It has many wonderful attributes – a diverse, multicultural population made up of wonderful involved citizens and great neighbors, clean streets, safe environment, libraries galore,   terrific hospitals, varied work opportunity, and it is debt free.

What does this have to do with art?

Mississauga’s past focus on rapid growth – from it’s bedroom community image amongst farm fields, to a city with a spanking brand new skyline,  white collar industry,  and the largest  shopping centre east of West Edmonton Mall, is not a bad thing. Most people want a nice roof over their head and nice places to work and shop.

30 years ago to own a car and a suburban home was hot, and so this city was not built around culture, public transportation, and education. Attracting builders and developers and keeping the tax base low, thanks to them, was. Museums and places of art just weren’t included in the equation.

The result? Rapid growth didn’t save room for all those quirky, interesting, and traditionally low rent spaces where artists of all sorts can set up shop to create, practice, incubate, mentor, promote, exhibit. There are plenty of places for children or hobbyists to take extracurricular arts courses of all types, thanks to the commitment of the city to create  community centres.  But for citizens, whose compulsion to create  is as vital to their existence as breathing,  are there are a lot of talented Mississauga artists out there, there is an extreme lack of venues to work, show, sell, create, perform, incubate etc. One must either leave, compromise,  or give up.

Then along came hope and the promise of Vision – for the Good of the City as well as its Artists.

3 years ago Mississauga, i.e., its Mayor Hazel McCallion, and Council did something rather amazing. Even though culture was not highest on their mandate, they recognized, (and the recent literature of the time proved) how cities need art and culture to be healthy . Mayor McCallion , in particular , is infamous for her passion for the city. Like a devoted parent, she decided that if her city needed arts and culture to grow, even if it wasn’t her thing in particular,  she would do her darndest to help it.

Through an incredibly inspired and citizen inclusive process the following happened.

The Mayor invited unbiased, respected and knowledgeable movers and shakers to voluntarily serve on an Arts Review Task Force . ARTF held town hall meetings for every arts group & individual on what was negative &/or positive for the arts in this city. They listened. From this information, the ARTF formed a incredibly comprehensive report of recommendations for the city – one of the recommendations being the formation of the Office of the Arts & Culture. The Council accepted and lauded  the report. A momentous day, a foot in the door of hope for artists.

Next came the formation of the Office of the Arts and Culture (OAC). More listening to the arts community needs, some growing pains, a little reorganizing.

The OAC then hired the Canadian Urban Institute who held a free, incredible speakers series – “A Conversation About Building A City For The 21st Century” . This series offered attendees the opportunity to hear what different visionaries thought about Mississauga’s future.

As an artist, and advocate for low cost art spaces for artists, I particularly liked the evening Dr. Roberta Bondar, astronaut, physician and photographer, shared the stage with Tim Jones, executive director of Artscape, a company specializing in building creative communities. My optimism for the arts and  Mississauga itself actually grows.

Next, Mississauga citizens – yes, everyone!- were invited to attend workshops, and round table discussions about how they viewed their city.  They got to speak their minds on exactly what it is they wanted.

In 2009, the UIC, after more calls to the public and arts communities,   made bang on recommendations for the OAC to create their strategic plan. This plan will be presented to Mississauga Council on April Fool’s Day, 2009. Surely, this inspired visioning, offering such hope to the city’s arts community will not turn out to be a trick.

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Cars, Kids & CBC


Did any one hear the Q Show today on CBC radio? I tuned while in my car just in time to hear a rep from Museum Watch UK making very odd statement on how museums weren’t for children.  As my brain went wha-a-at?!, I hit what must have been the only ice left on the road in Mississauga – the stop sign I sailed through – although hitting those abs breaks mighty hard- was in the shadow of a rather large high rise.  Luckily for me the oncoming driver on the busy through street was paying attention and veered into the next lane.  Needless to say I didn’t hear the rest of the show.

So I know I need to hear the rest of the show in case its out of contex. But sorry kids in museums is a good thing in my book. Here in Missisauga we are desperate for museums, galleries and more.  I envy the UK for its amazing museums & galleries – free to the public. That is one of the things that the UK has right! That anyone can have access to knowledge, history, culture, inspiratiion, and community…how odd to want to deny this to our most cherished members of the human race.

Not long after my another grey hair moment (and my apologizes to the poor driver who got to share in the moment) I had the pleasure of being a juror for a high school art competition & Show “Youth for Heritage” up in the Beaux-Arts Brampton. Grade 9 – 12 students submitted drawings, paintings & photographs of heritage buildings in their community.

As I ajudicated BAB martist talked excitedly planned  a children’s art event for 3 – 5 year olds in their workshop.

I am glad that the people and institutions  I know welcome energetic young people  in their establishments.

What do you think?

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Visual Artist Christine Montague Painting & Photography Fine Art Blog


Welcome to Camera and Canvas! 

I paint realistic, representational oil paintings on canvas & am an avid nature photographer. 

I entered into the world of art years ago primarily out of the love of drawing. I drew all the time – from life and my imagination – and I was good at it.  But in 2002 after an invitation to help create the artist co-operative Beaux-Arts Brampton, I entered the art world full time with the ambition to be a painter – to finally have a real go at using oils. Until then, with no space of my own at home & conscientious of my children’s  health, oil painting had never been an option for me.

After two years in a studio at Beaux-Arts Brampton, I moved into a larger studio in a beautifully rennovated old mill , the Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre in  Halton Hills. Inspired by the wonderful art buzz of the community and my beautiful art space in the countryside, my painting skills progressed to a new level. My very first painting there , The Magnificent Ascent of the Mighty Bear, a 3′ x6′ oils & oil stick painting took top prize at two juried art shows. And my photographs, initially taken as possible future reference for my paintings, began to take on a following of their own. Exhibited in my studio for interest, they began to sell, and one was used on the 2006 Halton Hills Tourist Guide cover. In 2008 I had two solo photography shows. “The Hidden Garden”, a year long study of the Chappell House residential gardens in Riverwood Park was part of CONTACT 2008 Toronto Photography Show and the first photography show at Visual Arts Mississauga.

For almost 5 years I observed how important having ones own studio and what an important support being surrounded by a creative community is to this solitary business of visual art. But I also observed these artist communities work best for those in them. I lived in a completely different city to the communities above . And I wanted what those communities offered to be offered to not only me, but the other artists of my city – Mississauga. And thus AIM  – Artists in Mississauga – and the grassroots movement AIM4Studios were born.

So onto my journey. In 2009 I want to put away the habits I have developed over the past few years- ie. painting realistic paintings straight from photographs. I want to get back to my roots of drawing, incorporate that in my painting. I used to love graphic novels and wonder can I get that back?  can I retrigger my imagination? I also I want to tell more stories with my camera & bring my view of looking at nature more into the public eye.

And finally, I passionately want to make progress for AIM and find us a home to create.  

Wish me luck! And I invite you to comment on what you think of any new art I post and anything else art related.

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