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Sylvan Lake’s public artworks go missing — and town officials want to get them back

A mural by David More is the latest artwork to disappear from storage
A large mural of pleasure cruisers on Sylvan Lake in the 1920s, painted by Benalto artist David More in the mid 1990s, has gone missing from storage. Town officials would like to get it back. (Contributed image).

The mystery of the missing mural is bewildering Sylvan Lake’s culture coordinator Thomas Bradshaw.

For one thing, how does an eight-by-12 foot mural just disappear?

Bradshaw expected to find the wall-sized painting by central Alberta artist David More somewhere in the town’s storage lockers. The original artwork had to be removed from the side of a former hardware store to do a wall repair about eight years ago.

This summer, the Town of Sylvan Lake officials plan to install a new series of murals for the downtown, so Bradshaw also wanted to re-mount More’s mural, depicting a group of well-dressed passengers out for an afternoon’s sail. But he said, after an exhaustive search, the artwork cannot be found anywhere.

Bradshaw hates to think that thieves walked away with it. He acknowledges that stealing a 12-foot mural would be no easy feat.

A more benign theory Bradshaw suggested is a former town staffer could have agreed to store the mural in a private garage if town lockers were full. And over the years, it could have been forgotten. In that case, he hopes to tweak somebody’s memory.

“We would love to have it back because it’s part of our public art collection.”

The mural was commissioned in 1994 by the former Heart of Town Association. More painted it from an archival photograph of a group of people enjoying the view from a large sailboat in the lake. Titled Sailing in L.C. Fulmer’s Boat, the mural is a nod to a late Sylvan Lake resident, who built a large sailing boat in the 1920s to take large groups of people on pleasure cruises around Sylvan Lake.

The painting was installed on the south wall of the former hardware store at the corner of Main Street and 51st Avenue in 1995. The hardware store has since been demolished to make way for a strip mall.

Sadly this isn’t the first public artwork to go missing in Sylvan Lake. Another commissioned mural made of ceramic sections, depicting dancers at the various historic Sylvan Lake dance halls, was removed from the outer wall of the Sylvan Lake Hotel before it was demolished about a decade ago — and it too has vanished.

Bradshaw said these artworks are pieces of Sylvan Lake’s history and belong to the citizens of Sylvan Lake. If anyone can help locate these missing works please contact him at 403-864-5571, or email

Meanwhile, the town is working with local business owners to launch a new series of murals this summer. The first two, inspired by the town’s resilience during the pandemic, will depict butterflies and wildflowers. These murals will both be installed on 50A Street by the end of July.

Bradshaw is also very excited to have a public art sculpture coming by Indigenous Alberta artist Leo Arcand, whose works are in the collection of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former U.S. President Barack Obama.

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Lana Michelin

About the Author: Lana Michelin

Lana Michelin has been a reporter for the Red Deer Advocate since moving to the city in 1991.
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