In Memory Mural unveiled at SFMH

A new In Memory Mural crafted by Wilno resident Donnie Burchat was unveiled at St. Francis Memorial Hospital (SFMH) on October 29. The piece is installed opposite the Landscape of Life, also made by Burchat, on the main floor of SFMH. Burchat unveiled the mural with the help of Toni Lavigne-Conway, Executive Director of the St. Francis Valley Healthcare Foundation (SFVHF), and Greg McLeod, Chief Operating Officer of SFMH. Photo above: Burchat (left), McLeod, Lavigne-Conway. The previous memorial made by Burchat, Landscape of Life, has been full for some time and SFVHF has received many requests about a new one.


Burchat’s new In Memory Mural (above) depicts a typical Valley landscape complete with ducks in flight, leaves on a tree, and even a partridge on a stone fence. Lavigne-Conway says the most significant part of the mural will be the names that represent family members, loved ones and friends – names that will soon be engraved on the individual elements of the design in a lasting and meaningful way to remember and honour them. She explained that SFVHF is very grateful for In Memory donations because they help enhance local healthcare by providing essential equipment. She said the mural will assist with capital needs at SFMH, expected to be around $230,000 this year. Lavigne-Conway thanked those who attended the unveiling, which included some donors of In Memory contributions to SFVHF.

McLeod also expressed his gratitude to donors and said, “I am most impressed by how much it means to the families. We hear comments of people stopping by to read them. When it’s particularly notable is in the summer when you have people who don’t necessarily live here. They are reading the names and there’s a lot of familiar names on there.” He explained that the government doesn’t pay for any equipment at hospitals, just operating costs. “But every new piece of medical equipment is covered by the community itself…. The capital needs that SFVHF truly supports is the medical equipment to support our clinicians in providing care.” He gave as an example that SFMH is replacing seven new patient beds at a cost of $5,000 to $7,000 each and McLeod agreed with Lavigne-Conway that patients and their families greatly appreciate the In Memory donations.


Burchat (above with the mural) explained his creation and described the types of wood used. “First of all I’m grateful to the Foundation for the opportunity. I really enjoyed doing this. This is my fifth one. The rocks are white ash with a grey stain. That’s a new one, just to add some new colour. The partridge was Will’s idea, head of maintenance, and that’s brown ash. Butternut for the leaves. Birch for the background. Oak for the frames, and the birds are walnut as well.” Generally, he chooses the wood for its colour, but this time he said, “For the partridge in this case, the grain looked like feathers. If you look it’s going along with the bird.”(Details below)

stone-fence-don-burchat         partridge

Lavigne-Conway said, “I feel we should give this beautiful lone partridge a name.” Burchat immediately responded, “Willie.” Lavigne-Conway laughed and explained they had consulted Will Borutski, SFMH Maintenance, and when he saw Burchat’s drawing, he told them, “You can’t have a stone fence without a partridge. Donnie picked up on that and away he went with it.”

This is the fifth such memorial project Burchat has worked on: two for SFMH, one at Hospice Renfrew and then two in Barrie at the head office of Community Living. Their CEO at the time had previously worked at Madawaska Valley Community Living and seen Burchat’s Landscape of Life at SFMH so she contacted him for a similar donor mural in Barrie. He usually has complete design control and says, “By the size of it, I have an idea of how many leaves will be on there. They throw some ideas at me but you want to make sure that each component is big enough for a plaque. You could do a lot of things, but if you can’t get the brass plaque on it’s not much good.” Burchat designs a template for each element in a mural. Click HERE to see photos of the other donor walls on Burchat’s website.


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