Mural with Don Cherry at Svendsen Bros Automotive defaced

The mural at Svendsen Bros Automotive on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019 after being defaced by vandalism. Photo via Svendsen Bros Automotive on Facebook.

Those with Svendsen Bros Automotive arrived to work today to find the mural on the west side of their building had been defaced.

The popular automotive shop on Front Road at Days Road in Kingston’s west end has had a mural on the side of the building depicting well-known Kingston celebrities and landmarks for the past decade, according to owner Brian Deveau. Among those celebrities are hockey icons Doug Gilmour, Kirk Muller, and Don Cherry.

Sometime between closing on Tuesday, Nov. 12 and opening on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, the mural was defaced, as a vandal or vandals spray painted “Disgrace” in pink directly over Don Cherry, who is giving the ‘thumbs up’ in the image. Cherry has fallen under heavy criticism and was fired from his position on Coach’s Corner after comments he made during Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019. While many have voiced opposition to the comments Cherry made – which referred to “you people… that come here” who “love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple of bucks for a poppy” and specifically spoke about a lack of people wearing poppies in Canada’s larger, urban cities – many others have voiced support for Cherry, who has long been known to support Canada’s troops and Remembrance Day.

However, the mural itself was never meant to take a political stance, but rather celebrate the community Svendsen Bros has called home for half a century, Deveau expressed.

“It’s disappointing. The shop’s been here supporting every member of our community for 55 years, and that mural has been on the wall for over 10 years,” he said. “We did it as just a tribute to celebrities and different things in the Kingston community. It’s not political, it’s not anything like that, and for somebody to vandalize it based on something that somebody else said, it’s taking it to the next level, and it’s totally unnecessary.”

The artist behind the mural, Shane Goudreau, said he was busy focusing on his current work and didn’t want to lose focus because of the defacing of this work. He did note, however, that the defacing wasn’t likely to be permanent.

“I think it’s silly,” he said. “Paint does not adhere to clear coat, nor will it set properly in these temperatures.”

Indeed, those at Svendsen Bros Automotive have already removed the graffiti, which received a lot of praise and support on Facebook, where the business had posted a photo of the vandalism calling it a “sad day” at the auto shop.

The mural by Shane Goudreau on the side of Svendsen Bros Automotive. Photo via Svendsen Bros Automotive on Facebook.

“Don Cherry is a national icon, he supports our military and youth programs, this mural has been on this building for 10yrs. He was included on mural for his iconic status in Canadian culture, not for any political stand points. We don’t deserve to have our artwork and property vandalized for someone else’s political thoughts,” reads the post, which had garnered close to 150 reactions and shares, and nearly 100 comments before 3 p.m. the same day.

For Deveau, who has owned Svendsen Bros Automotive since 2000 after taking it over from Sid and Lyle Svendsen, the act of vandalism was a letdown, and one that only hurt people well removed from Cherry’s political views or statements.

“I just think it’s unnecessary for somebody to vandalize somebody else’s property over comments somebody else made,” he said.

With files from Cris Vilela.

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