Artist: Jarett Lee Sitter

“During my time gathering stories from locals in Kensington with Caitlynn, we learned of a man who lived on 15th street who raised pigeons. Not just your everyday scavenger, pecking at discarded McDonald’s, pedestrian pigeons, these birds carried on the noble tradition of racing and carrier pigeons.

When the man unfortunately passed away, his children inherited his house, a house full of pigeons. Unable or unwilling to look after these newly orphaned birds, but eager to sell the house, the children evicted the pigeons out into the wild.

Knowing only 15th street, this is where the pigeons remained, but now instead of racing they mainly passed their time hanging out on the various rooves of the neighbourhood. Evidently they eventually picked the wrong building to make a habit of loitering upon and every last pigeon was wiped out by it’s inhabitants.

The man who told us this story pointed out the building responsible for their deaths, a big brick building, which would have been the notorious Bre-X headquarters at the time.

This utility box features the above mentioned racing pigeons I had learned about. These pigeons are flying among bones as well as bursting with foliage, embracing the duality of life and death. It serves as a remembrance of the birds who for a time flew nearby, and pay homage to them by showing small messages a carrier pigeon could possess, spilling out from them.

These messages each are inspired by, or directly quoted from people we had talked with around the community. Whether it be admissions, snippets of heard conversation, or anecdotal, these messages we are able to intercept mid-flight act as a record of people’s everyday lives in Kensington.

Location: 1437 Kensington Road NW
(corner of Kensington Road & 14th Street NW)

#Utilistories Project

Kensington helped develop the Utility Box Public Art Program with the City of Calgary in 2017. We have several artist-painted boxes in Kensington focusing on the stories and history of the surrounding neighbourhoods of Hillhurst and Sunnyside.

This City of Calgary program used money for regular life-cycle maintenance of City assets in a creative way: street-level artworks are created on City utility boxes by local artists.

Special thanks to Alberta Printmakers who provided assistance to the artists in this project.

Find more about the #utilistories on Instagram here.

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