Map Room Library Assistant Joanne Costello proudly shows off one of the new acquisitions in the Map Room of the QEII Library and it didn’t come from a government map maker as they normally do. The Macpherson Neighbourhood Map is a 3.5 m2 fabric map created in 2005 by Grades 1 and 2 students from Macpherson Elementary as part of a school-wide ArtsSmarts grant project that allows professional artists to come into the schools to work with children on curriculum-based art projects.
The map shows Macpherson Elementary, located on Newtown Road, and the neighbourhood around it. With the artist, Elizabeth Tucker (and parent volunteers), the children, in separate groups, walked around a section of the neighbourhood and took pictures of the houses, buildings, landmarks, and other cultural features they thought were important. They were asked to make a pencil sketch of the house or building depicted in the photos they had collected. With the artist’s assistance a fabric reproduction was created with iron-on backing, which was then pressed onto the background fabric to create the map. The children were delighted to add trees, cars, traffic lights and signs, which truly showed their interest in accurately depicting their neighbourhood.
The Geography Department’s Dr. Arn Keeling described the map as a real treasure, not only because it features his house, but it also portrays the geography or spatial perspective of the neighbourhood as perceived by local elementary-aged children. “MacPherson Elementary, located behind Holy Heart of Mary High School, opened in 1948. Last year, due to falling enrolment and in spite of neighbourhood efforts to defend it, the school was closed as part of a district-wide consolidation plan. Acquiring this fabric map means the preservation of an important artifact documenting a once-vibrant neighbourhood institution”
Joanne Costello volunteered with Macpherson Elementary on this project. “The kids really enjoyed working on this map and were very particular about getting the details correct. At the time they were only 6 and 7 years old and I hope that some of them may see it here in the Map Room when they become post-secondary students.”
The map had been displayed in the hallway outside of the school office since its completion in 2005 but with the closure of the school in June of 2011 it has found a new home in the Map Room of the QEII Library on Memorial’s main campus.