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Street mural on Mont-Royal Avenue commemorates whale’s passage through the city

Whale of a tale
WATCH: A local Montreal artist has created a street mural to honor the young humpback whale that captured the hearts of Montrealers in early June. The whale offered Montrealers a distraction, a glimmer of hope after being quarantined for months. The whale's carcass was found floating in the St-Lawrence, likely struck and killed by a boat. Global's Gloria Henriquez has more.

It captivated Montrealers and gave them a glimmer of hope. Now, the whale that wandered into the St. Lawrence river this past June is a source of inspiration for one local artist.

The animal’s brief passage through the city and its life have been immortalized on the streets of Montreal.

“It’s really nice, makes the walk more enjoyable,” said Merveille Bombardier.

Read more: Montreal’s rare humpback whale sighting draws crowds and concern

The street mural on Mont-Royal Avenue, located between Mentana and St André streets, is the work of Omar Bernal Benítez.

“It’s my baby, my baby whale,” said ​​Bernal Benítez while showing the first out of eight whales depicted on the mural.

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Although there are eight, they all represent one in particular: the humpback whale that graced Montrealers with her presence back in June.

Montreal’s whale has people flocking to the old port to spot the rare water visitor
Montreal’s whale has people flocking to the old port to spot the rare water visitor

The whale was far from her natural habitat in Tadoussac but somehow made it into Montreal’s Old Port.

Its visit was a bright spot during the coronavirus crisis.

“When I was in lockdown, it was very important, I think the whale filled us with hope,” said Bernal Benítez.

The mural is part of a project called The Art of Distancing.

Read more: Wandering humpback whale dies in the St. Lawrence: research group

It’s put together by arts non-profit MU and was commissioned by the Mont-Royal Merchants Association in partnership with the borough and the city.

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“Because we have to be in social distancing, well, can we make it at least artistic and colourful and beautiful and put artists to work?” said Elizabeth-Ann Doyle, MU’s executive director.

Several streets have already been beautified by local artists under the same project, featuring improvements such as cement blocks that act as dividers in the Ville-Marie borough. Doyle says more streets are on the list.

Art of Distanciation in the Ville-Marie borough.
Art of Distanciation in the Ville-Marie borough. Photos by Olivier Bousquet. Courtesy of MU, Olivier Bousquet

As for the touching mural on Mont-Royal avenue, it took the artist eight 10-hour days and the help of a few of his friends to complete it​, but Bernal Benítez says it’s all worth it after the feedback he’s received.

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“I’m feeling proud about it,” the artist told Global News.