The Many Faces of the ByWard Market

About a month ago, I noticed that the fire hydrant just down the street from my apartment was looking considerably happier than it had in the past.


Looking a little more gap-toothed, too.

Looking a little more gap-toothed, too.

Since then, I’ve noticed at least a dozen similar faces all over the Market, on mailboxes, streetlights, transformers and more. While the faces themselves are varied in expression, they always follow the same basic design; simple colours, generally bright, often subtle or hidden if you’re not looking at the right side of something, and always adding a splash of character to the streetscape.


Looking embarassed on Clarence

Looking embarassed on Clarence

One interesting thing about this random street art is that it always shows up on public property. I’ve yet to notice anything like this on, say, newspaper boxes or on private businesses. And perhaps even more remarkably, I’ve seen little evidence of effort to remove these faces, which is fantastic because they really make parts of the sidewalk interesting, adding some life to objects that are normally fairly boring and—pardon the pun—pedestrian. It’s also a joy to come across ones you haven’t seen before. Each one is unique, and though I’m no art critic, it appears that a fair amount of effort has gone into making them look interesting.


This streetlamp on Dalhousie looks as though it's come unhinged

This streetlamp on Dalhousie looks as though it's come unhinged

This kind of thing is why I’ve always been against any kind of blanket laws regarding graffiti. I can understand why it’s something that many people attack—after all, tags from gangs and messages on underpasses informing us that Frankie was there aren’t exactly a desirable part of the urban landscape. But at the same time, there are street artists out there who genuinely make the city a more interesting place to live, but unfortunately they often get lumped into the general category of “graffiti”, and their work is removed from the street. I don’t know who is responsible for these faces scattered around the Market, but whoever is has my thanks for making streetlights and trash cans something I occasionally find myself stopping and smiling at rather than simply ignoring. And that’s something I will always fight for having as an important part of any urban area.


Being a mailbox can get you down sometimes.

Being a mailbox can get you down sometimes.

For the rest of the faces that I’ve found (11 so far) head on over to my Flickr page.

4 Responses to “The Many Faces of the ByWard Market”

  1. June 1, 2009 at 12:03 am

    No Fair! I want some in my neighbourhood!

    – RG>

  2. 2 J.
    June 1, 2009 at 8:39 am

    I love this type of graffiti. I don’t think that it’s defacing anything at all. I think it’s actually making our city a little brighter. It’s sort of like finding knitted items on trees and telephone poles in the fall. It makes me happy to see some cold, look warm.

  3. June 1, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    i’ve seen a couple other than those. i absolutley LOVE them. i guess they’re the new pacman ghosts! lol

  4. June 9, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    These are terrific! I spend a lot of time wandering the Market looking for photo ops and have never noticed any — guess I’m not paying enough attention. Very cool!

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This is a blog dedicated to exploring and discussing Ottawa, Canada.



Email: dmccl033(at)uottawa(dot)ca

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