sudbury hospital mural

How an abandoned hospital in Sudbury became home to the largest mural in Canada

While one often doesn't think of art when it comes to health care, this abandoned hospital in Sudbury, Ontario is home to Canada's largest mural. 

The former St. Joseph's Health Centre (previously the Sudbury General Hospital) was transformed into a giant display of bright colours in hopes of uniting Canadians of all races, sexual orientations, and gender orientations.

The project started back in 2019, commissioned by the Up Here Urban Art and Music Festival, and was painted by famed L.A. street and graffiti artist, RISK.

At 80,000 square feet, the mural surpassed a 20,000 square foot mural of a wolf in Thompson, Manitoba as the country's largest. 

The idea for such a huge project came years after the abandoned hospital was sold to Panoramic Properties, a private developer who eventually wanted to transform the property into condos.

Christian Pelletier, co-founder of the Up Here Festival, said that the building has instead been sitting vacant for the past decade. 

"They approached us a few years ago, knowing that we were doing a bunch of murals for the Up Here Festival and wanting to put their building in the ring of potential walls," he said. 

While the building seemed too big at first, Pelletier added that the artist, RISK, wanted the largest scale possible and the old hospital provided the perfect opportunity.

"He covers full buildings with that colourful palette and wanted to take it on."

Pelletier said that they entire building didn't get finished in the three weeks that RISK was in Sudbury, however about 80 per cent is covered. In fact, things got a bit messy when his equipment was stolen. 

As a result, the mural received lots of mixed reaction on social media. While some said it provided a bright spot in the city, others called it an eyesore.

Some were also quite angry that taxpayers money was spent on the mural. 

"Weird, driving by it, it kinda looks kinda an eyesore tbh, but this pic is super flattering," one person commented on Facebook.

Pelletier, however, was impressed with the community support the mural inspired. 

"It was already a controversial building because it has been left to decay for the past 10 years," he said. 

"But once the paint started going on it, it was quite radical how people loved it or really didn't like it. That's what contemporary art is. We were absolutely thrilled with doing something big on that scale."

Next time you're in Sudbury, keep an eye out for this colourful building, although it's probably hard to miss. 

Lead photo by

We Live Up Here


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