A stamp of approval for designer of city’s new poppy mural

city_scope_logo-cmykForget the Railway Capital of Canada. If this keeps up we’ll be the mural masters of Canada.
Have you spotted the latest mural masterpiece?
It’s a field of poppies gracing the back wall of the little strip mall on Princess Avenue. It serves as the perfect backdrop to Veterans Memorial Garden across the L&PS tracks.
The approximately 2,500-square-foot mural is the creation of London-based artist Andrew Lewis.
His award-winning corporate branding, packaging and poster art are internationally recognized. His clients include Canada Post, the Royal Canadian Mint, Starbucks and VISA.

It’s was a colourful mural on the wall of Locomotive Espresso in Old South in London that caught the attention of Andrew Gunn of young & free press fame in St. Thomas that got the ball rolling for what would become the poppy mural.

Poppy mural

And, in conjunction with Railway City Tourism, Lewis was commissioned to undertake the sprawling – but not his largest – mural. He’s undertaken similar-sized graphics in Toronto, Vancouver and Paris.
Lewis describes the mural as a poppy field of colour with “all of the poppies representing people for me.”
And while the wide-open spaces played into his creative genius, there was the matter of several obstacles, including door frames and gas meters.
Oh, and don’t forget the wasp nests, heat and humidity this summer.
But, the murals are just one aspect of the graphic design studio that is Andrew Lewis.

Poppy mural 2

Andrew Lewis, right, with Tony Bendel of the Royal Canadian Legion St. Thomas.

As noted on his website, “Andrew has had his work included in numerous international collections, including the French National Library, the Permanent Collection of the Library of Congress in Washington D.C., the International Poster Biennial in Mexico City, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
“He has also been a guest speaker at various design conferences, poster biennials and universities, in Canada, the USA, Central & South America, Europe and Asia.”
So what is he up to beyond the poppy mural, which he calls “just one of the many extensions of my compan?.”
How about designing another stamp and advertising campaign for Canada Post.
With our conversation proceeding quite casually, I just had to ask about the context and look of this new stamp.
And, Andrew responded to my query of is it possible to give us a sneak insight into the new stamp?
“Nope,” he laughed. “I have a contract.”

“I just know what triggers people’s imagination.”

He continued, “But I can tell you, and you probably saw them and you may have used them yourself. Last Christmas, I designed all the Christmas stamps for Canada.
“That series was a Canadian stamp, a U.S. stamp and an international stamp. And we printed 13 million and what’s really cool is the whole stamp program sold out, which hasn’t happened for a long, long time.”
Notes Lewis, it sold out by the second week of December.
Asked if it is fair game to say his work is a best-seller, the answer again was prompt and to the point.
“Sure, why not. I just know what triggers people’s imagination.”
Does he ever. To date, he has designed over 1,000 posters and 150 brands around the world.
As Australia’s Powderzine Magazine praises his work, “Whether the poster is calling your attention to a worthwhile cause, letting you in on a must-see event or spruiking a funky product, Lewis’ work grabs you every time.”
Spruiking, by the way, is Australian slang. Colourful in its own right.
So, it just goes to show you that you never who you’ll meet out back of some building painting over a wall.


Only a die-hard Conservative would have sat for hours last Sunday awaiting word on who will lead the party into the next election.
One of those was Elgin-Middlesex-London MP Karen Vecchio who hung in there until the triumphant end.
That’s when Erin O’Toole told bleary-eyed supporters in an early morning victory speech that the party can get Canadians back to work.
OTooleErin_CPCO’Toole captured 57 per cent of the final ballot votes to Peter MacKay’s 43 per cent.
He had Vecchio’s support and later on Monday morning, the jubilation could still be heard in her voice.
He will bring a lot to the table, assured Vecchio.
“The one thing he will bring is caucus unity,” she noted. “With 121 members, it is very, very important. His Ontario colleagues all have great respect for him.
“But we also know how well he did across the west, and so it will be easy to unite on that.
“In no time,” she adds.
What is encouraging for Vecchio is the fact he is an excellent listener.
“For me, I know I can bring the concerns from my riding. It is so easy to communicate with him.”
And then there is the matter of respect.
“That’s the one thing I know with Erin. He will bring that tone of respect to all our conversations.”
With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau putting everything on hold for a re-start Sept 23, that kills all bills that have not received royal assent and no committees are allowed to sit. Vecchio, then, is making the best use of time back in the riding.

Karen Vecchio O P

“This is the first time in five years I haven’t held a role as a shadow minister or as a chair. I’m going to be able to take that time and add it to what I’m doing here with the constituency.
“Right now, Canadians want to be heard. This is a great time for MPs to reconnect and find out what is going on in our backyard. It’s time to get out of that Ottawa bubble.”
We keep hearing rumbles of a quick fall election. Is that really what people want or need in the midst of a pandemic?
“Personally, I don’t want an election. And the reason I don’t want one is I do know people are exhausted. Not only from last year’s election, but because of COVID-19.
“They just want to see a bit of normalcy right now. And I respect that.”
You just know that last statement comes with a ‘but.’
“We have a Parliament that has not been sitting for six months. We have seen a proroguement for six weeks. And when we go back there is the Speech from the Throne (which opens every new session of Parliament).
“And that is an automatic confidence vote being triggered by the prime minister by prorogueing.
“I understand there needs to be a re-set, it’s a different day than when we elected the Government in 2019 but, at the same time, committee work could have continued to be done. There was no reason to prorogue.”

“We will be ready for an election if it is called but, at the same time . . . I think there is an appetite for a really good, strong debate right now.”

All the productive work being done by the various committees has now been held up for six weeks, reminds Veccio.
“And, it doesn’t resume where it left off. And, right now there are no chairs of those committees.”
So the chairpersons of those committees prior to proroguement are not guaranteed they will assume duties when business resumes next month.
A concern for Vecchio who, served as the Shadow Minister for Women and Gender Equality (and as Chair of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women – a role which she has held since 2017).
“We will be ready for an election if it is called but, at the same time . . . I think there is an appetite for a really good, strong debate right now.”


The St. Thomas parade in honour of Santa Claus has fallen victim to the coronavirus. Chris McConnell, president of the Optimist Club of St. Thomas says the decision was not easy and was not made in haste, adding it was unlikely the city would be issuing permits for similar events at this time.
“We mulled in over for a month and a half,” advised McConnell. He added the club had an executive meeting earlier this month “and we finally decided it would be smart not to do it.”
He notes the Optimist Club of St. Thomas has organized and hosted the annual parade for about three dozen years and McConnell says the club is looking at other ways to give the youngsters something in place of it.
“We’re throwing some different ideas around. We want to give them something, especially the younger ones.”
Santa ClausMcConnell notes the parade takes many volunteer hours to plan, prepare and run and the club hopes the community understands and supports this decision.
He adds the safety of the community and the many volunteers involved in making the parade an annual success is the Optimist Club’s first priority. He stresses the hope is the Optimist Club of St. Thomas Santa Claus parade will return next year on Saturday, November 20th.
It’s a bit of a tough year for St. Nick in these parts with the Lions and Lioness Clubs of Port Stanley sidelining the Dickens’ Days Parade at the end of November.
But we have it on good authority he will still visit boys and girls around the world this Christmas.

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And a reminder, I can be heard weekday afternoons as news anchor and reporter on 94.1 myFM in St. Thomas. As always, your comments and input are appreciated.


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