Restoration of Mural

In 2001, a mural commemorating the Cobourg to Rochester Ferry was painted by John Mitchell on the side of a building on First street – but in time it faded and was almost lost. However, Cobourg’s Historical Society and the DBIA (Downtown Business Improvement Area) came to the rescue and commissioned restoration. Last Saturday (9 September), around 50 people attended an unveiling of the fully restored mural led by Carla Jones, President of the Cobourg Historical Society. If you didn’t know, First Street is the name given to the lane on the West side of the Dutch Oven (sorry, now called “Lalies and the Dutch”). The building was originally the Allen Hardware building but now houses 8 separate Condos – some commercial and some residences.

Ferry Plaque
Ferry Plaque

To make this happen, permissions were required from the building owners (their Condo board unanimously approved), and the Town, and money needed to be raised. In the end the DBIA provided most of the funds.  The Restoration work was done by Allan Bender – with the help of some assistants.

The photo above right is of the brass plaque attached to the building under the mural.

History Background

From 1905 to 1950, a commercial ferry operated daily between Rochester NY and Cobourg (see Resources below for much more detail).  It carried coal, iron ore and passengers.  There were actually two ferries but changes in regulations and economics eventually led to their demise.

In 2001, two well known citizens, Bill Patchett and Dr. Thomas Hawke, pooled funds to redo the former Allen Hardware Building and commissioned and paid for the first mural. According to newspaper reports, the mural took 150 hours of work and 20 gallons of paint.  There are actually two murals: the one at the top shows the Ferry (one of them) and the other is a reproduction of a flyer used to promote excursions in the 1930’s.

See resources below for links to some histories of the Ferries.

In the summer of 2018, Leona Woods and Carl decided to research how they could get this mural restored.   Leona found Allan in Belleville and with help from Deputy Mayor Nicole Beatty, Carla obtained most of the funds from the DBIA. The rest came from the Cobourg Historical Society.

The unveiling event (albeit without a “veil”) was attended by a number of interested people – let me name some that I recognized:

  • Peter Delanty, former Mayor and History buff
  • Olinda Casimiro, Art Gallery of Northumberland Executive Director
  • Deputy Mayor Nicole Beatty – spoke briefly on behalf of the Mayor and Council
  • Councillor Adam Bureau
  • Councillor Randy Barber
  • Brent Larmer, Director of Legislative Services
  • Ted Rafuse – local railway historian

In addition, as well as Carla and Leona from the Historical Society, key people making this happen were at the event:

  • John Mitchell – Original artist
  • Allan Bender – Restoration Artist
  • Keith Herring – President of Condo Corporation #39 which owns the building
  • Carleigh Hunter – DBIA administrator

Below are some photos of the event.

Click any photo to enlarge and start a slide show.



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Lauren Maclean
6 months ago

Thank-you for that information Jim T. You might be interested in a photo hanging in the former Dutch Oven, now Lalies and the Dutch which is taken looking south on 1st Street and shows a vehicle parked in front of Parsons? Garage. In the background I think you can see the houses on 1st and Albert Street that you were speaking of.

7 months ago

For the record: I’ve always understood that the correct spelling is “1st Street” (and the same for 2nd Street and 3rd Street) in Cobourg.
That’s what Google Map shows as well.
I have been unable to find a definitive record of this on line.
There used to be houses on 1st Street south of Albert, on the west side. My grandfather’s place, on the corner, was one of them, and my parents rented the last one before the rail sidings and storage sheds from Mr. Henley, the shoemaker, in 1943 and 1944.

7 months ago

What a great article! We often walk by and talk about how beautiful this mural used to look. Gives us hope of how beautiful the history of our community is and still can be. Let’s keep this positive attitude going.

Leona Woods
7 months ago

Peter Delanty is speaking at the library this Friday at 10:00 as part of the 55 plus group on the history of the Ferry. When he did a presentation at the CDHS earlier in the year, it was outstanding and I am sure that this will be interesting and engaging for those who want to learn more. Thank you for spreading the word about this mural, John.

Jennifer Darrell
7 months ago

How refreshing to have a good news story in Cobourg and on your blog John. Undoubtedly, some of your jaded readers will find some reason to make negative comments … as one has already done…

7 months ago

Nice to see but as usual Council seems to pay more attention and come out of hiding for the Social Artsy things rather than dealing with this Towns more serious long outstanding Problems

7 months ago

Mr. Patchett and Dr, Hawke did a great service to our community regards this lovely mural.

7 months ago

Fabulous Article!
Magnificent and Multi-Talented Artists!
Wonderful and Selfless People in Cobourg!