If you live in Mississauga you may have heard of the Salmon Run Project, a call to artists to decorate casts of the Coho salmon to be displayed in the Civic Centre Grand Hall early in May. Mississauga is stepping up its support of the visual arts and this is the first project between the City's Cultural Office and the Art Gallery of Mississauga. But why salmon?
Three types of salmon inhabit the Credit River, the southern Ontario river that starts above the Niagara Escarpment and winds south through multiple Mississauga communities before it empties into Lake Ontario at Port Credit.
The Port Credit Salmon and Trout Association volunteers recently put 5000 young Chinook into a holding pen to acclimatize them to Lake Ontario. These 6 month old baby salmon are part of an ongoing project to increase the salmon population. About 85,000 salmon will enter the Credit River each year. Meet Sally, the salmon that tried to get away from that process here.
The Credit River Anglers Association, another great volunteer organization, has done fabulous work in protecting both the salmon and the Credit. Every year they collect the migrating salmon at a point in the river that impedes their journey, and drive them safely up to Norval where they are returned to the water so continue on their way. How impressive is that?!
At one time the Credit River was so thick with salmon, it was said one could walk across the river on their backs. However, by the end of the 1800's, their numbers in Ontario rivers had been dramatically depleted.
Despite efforts to reintroduce the Atlantic salmon, they are still very rare. Reintroduction of the Pacific Salmon, such as the Chinook, has met with much more success. The original call to artists stated we would be decorating casts of the Atlantic salmon, but what we all received was the Coho or Silver salmon.
Whatever "salmon" we work with, the lessons are the same, salmon are remarkable creatures, if we mess with nature it take a lot of time, effort, and good people to correct, and art, like nature, has the amazing ability to engage, educate and entertain.