Refurbish and renew
Shane Signs of Crysler created weather-resistant graphic reproductions of the historical murals mounted on aluminum panels and fixed to the doors of the Keith Boyd Community Museum.       Van Dusen photo

Tom Van Dusen
Villager Contributor
RUSSELL – When Russell and District Historical Society members acquired the former village fire hall to expand Keith Boyd Community Museum, they decided to dress up the big bay doors with local-content murals.

That was 11 years ago. Finding the right artist was easy. With 30 years of experience as a professional illustrator at the time, Peter Griffin happened to live right next door… so getting to the job site wouldn’t pose a problem.

It was a bit of a rush because the Griffin family was about to move to Prince Edward Island. The two murals were completed with flair and lasted well until the elements began taking their toll.

Peter was pleased to leave something conspicuous behind to mark his residency in Russell, a period he enjoyed for the relaxed atmosphere and welcoming residents.

One of the original paintings is of an old steam locomotive depicting the New York Central Railway which stopped in Russell until 1957; a second painting shows the horse-drawn pumper credited with saving the day during 1915’s Great Russell Fire which destroyed 25 core buildings.

In the image, driving the Silsby Steam Pumper are two characters who look suspiciously like North Russell farmer Henry Staal and the late Hughie Latimer. Both were driving forces in the historical society, and Peter painted them into the one mural. Riding at the back is a depiction of museum founder, the late Keith Boyd.

After more than a decade, Peter’s paintings were looking a little ragged and the society decided it was time to refresh them, said chair Judy James. Hand-painting new originals was out of the question; at a cost of a little more than $2,000, Shane Signs of Crysler created weather-resistant graphic reproductions mounted on aluminum panels and fixed to the doors.

It all adds up to a colourful resurgence of a village landmark, with the Griffin signature still intact. The Russell Lions Club logo has been mounted on one side because it donated to the project, with the remainder of the cost covered through society funds.