Windsor-Tecumseh: Working Class Street Art
In Windsor-Tecumseh, along Drouillard Road, one can view Windsor’s working class history reflected in the many murals and other forms of Street Art. Drouillard Road runs by the shuttered Ford Castings Plant in a neighbourhood that has come to be known as Ford City, and south of that, along the Chrysler Minivan Plant, which still operates. Below are images, along with official descriptions, of some of the historic pieces of art on and around Drouillard Road, dedicated to the workers of the area. A nearby recently painted mural dedicated to frontline health care workers is also shown.
The plaque reads: Since the dawn of the 20th Century, countless families such as the Jacques, Gaudettes and McGuires – whose descendants are depicted here – have lent their skills to Canada’s auto industry. This sculpture by Artist and Ford Journeyman Mark Williams is dedicated to the generations of Canadians who helped put Windsor on the map, and the world on wheels.
Women on the Line
The plaque reads: In the early 1900’s, women at Ford Motor Company of Canada were relegated mainly to clerical positions. In 1915, the magneto winding room was the only factory floor department that employed “girls”. The women depicted here are winding and soldering spools of copper which, along with mica, steel, cotton, varnish and lead, were used to build magnetos – vital components of early ignition systems. While the magneto disappeared long ago as technology advanced, the contributions of women have increased significantly. Today, women are employed in every facet of vehicle production. Artist: Donna Jean Mayne – 2001
The plaque reads: The auto industry’s incredible success created a boomtown climate on Drouillard Road. In its heyday, the neighbourhood bore daily witness to thousands of workers spilling from the gates that connected it to Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited. This depiction of workers exiting the Whelpton gate was inspired by a photoshot in the 1950’s by local photographer Fred Lazurek. Artist: Steven Jonhson – 2001
End of the Line
The plaque reads: This 1949 Ford Tudor Deluxe represents the fruit of the workers’ labour depicted in Generations. It rolls off the line to join the more than three million vehicles built at Ford’s Windsor assembly plant between 1904 and 1954. Artists: Mark Williams & James Levergood – 2001
The plaque reads: The Ford Windsor Casting Plant or Foundry, as it is called locally, was built in 1934. The casting process requires skill and stamina as workers use furnaces to melt scrap iron and steel at extreme temperatures. Despite the demands of the job, generations of workers have been employed at the plant which continues to provide a good living for them and their children.
The plant has been a primary source of high-quality castings, which now contain 95 per cent recycled materials. The plant currently employs more than 1,000 men and women who produce 2.5 million crankshafts and 1 million cylinder blocks annually. Artist: Steven Johnson – 2000 EDITORIAL NOTE: The plant was closed in 2007 as a result of Ford Motor Company’s restructuring of its operations at that time which included moving the work to jurisdictions where workers could be paid much less to do the same work.
Mural to Honour Healthcare Workers
Located at Tecumseh and Walker Roads, close to Windsor Regional Hospital’s Metropolitan Campus, this mural, by David “Derkz” Derkaz, is to honour healthcare workers and the important role they have played during the pandemic. Derkz painted the mural because: “I wanted to give back to the community and do this mural so that people can come up, just give thanks or do what they need to do before a shift, on shift, during a lunch break or something. Just come, pay respects, and maybe take a picture in front of it.”