STREAM OF DREAMS®
Fish on Fences
Our history begins with an artist and a streamkeeper.
The Spawning of the Stream of Dreams Program - 2000
"Thanks to 'Beautiful Dreamers' and artful planners, our community has discovered its living stream. Each fish is a testimony of hope. From cutting and sanding, to priming and creative painting.
All steps of the fish creation process are our community's commitment to its local creek. We invite you to walk along the fence, find your favorite fish and share the dream of a living stream."
In 1998 someone dumped toxic material into a stormdrain in the Byrne Creek Watershed located in south-east Burnaby. The poison eventually found its way to Byrne Creek where it killed all aquatic life, including 5,000 fish.
Not long after, buildings at Edmonds & Kingsway in the upper watershed were demolished. A chain-link fence topped with razor wire was installed around the rubble. It looked like a war zone and to Louise Towell and her daughter Chanel Lapierre it symbolized the abandoned state of the community.
The Edmonds neighbourhood was considered one of Burnaby’s most derelict areas, riddled with crime, a place most people drove through on their way to somewhere else without stopping.
Louise and her daughter Chanel felt they needed to create a mural and bring the most beautiful part of the neighbourhood to the attention of the community and Byrne Creek fit the bill!
The Bryne Creek Streamkeepers Society (BCSS) the volunteer group that monitors the creek was still reeling from the disastrous fish kill the year before. For BCSS chair Joan Carne the timing was perfect to team up with artist Louise Towell and educate the community about the local creek. The two set out to symbolically bring the fish back to life by making 5,000 wooden fish, have them painted by local children, and put them on the fence to tell all who passed by that there was a creek in the neighbourhood.
The Byrne Creek Streamkeepers and the local community prepared all the fish for the inaugural Stream of Dreams mural. By Rivers Day 2000, 1,300 fish were installed onto the fence at Edmonds & Kingsway.
In the following months all seven local elementary schools in the watershed learned about the storm drains that lead to Byrne Creek, and were told the story of the preventable tragedy of 1998. By June 2001 over 3,000 fish swam on the fence at Edmonds & Kingsway, delighting local families, children and commuters.
Photo credit: Alistair Baird
In June 2006, the original Edmonds & Kingsway Stream of Dreams mural was taken down to allow for redevelopment at the corner. A beautiful sculpture of children riding a salmon was placed near the site of the original mural and dedicated to the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers.
A portion of the fish have been refurbished and repainted and now "swim" on fences along the South Burnaby Urban Trail on a bridge above the Skytrain rapid transit line.
Over the past 20 years the Stream of Dreams program has been invited into watersheds across Canada to help educate communities about their local streams and share the beauty of community art.
Stream of Dreams Murals Society co-founder Joan Carne retired in 2011, and Louise Towell continues to build the legacy that the two began years ago.
We have licensed teams in:
Vancouver Island, Cariboo, BC Interior and West Kootenays.
Calgary, Alberta, Northwest Territories, and the Yukon.
Ontario teams at Conservation Halton, Quinte Conservation, Credit Valley Conservation, Bay Area Restoration Council, Grand River Conservation Authority, Upper Thames River Conservation Authority, Central Lake Conservation Authority and Greater Toronto Region.