Pride of place

Westside mural just the beginning according to lifetime resident Ron Goffic.

Mural artists Leigh Cassidy

The west wall, facing the parking lot of Bliss the Ultimate Grill, now sports a decorative mural, complete with Pan Phillips sitting on a bench with a cup of coffee in his hand.

“My dad loved his morning coffee and telling stories,” Pan’s daughter Diana Phillips said.

“I think its very nice to have my father on the mural.”

Building owner and Pioneer Trading’s Ron Goffic and Bliss owner Jas Sabberwal had talked about a mural for a long time but never got around to it, Sabberwal said.

“When he came up with the idea, I was fully supportive,” he added.

In consultation with mural artist Leigh Cassidy, Goffic liked the idea of including Pan Phillips in the mural.

The mural was originally to beautify the building, add to the appeal of Quesnel’s west side and hopefully inspire other westside residents to consider similar improvements.

Adding Pan Phillips was a tip of the hat to Quesnel’s historic past.

“When I was a kid, 60 years ago, Pan Phillips was an icon,” Goffic said.

“Bigger than life, I have memories of when he would come to town, it was like a big party.”

He reminisced about how Phillips also took the time to talk with the kids.

“We’d go to the bridge and watch them move cattle across. He was a hero to a lot of us kids and that’s why I wanted him on the mural.”

Goffic said he’s lived on the west side for 65 years and the area doesn’t deserve the bad rap it has.

“I wanted to show pride in the west side. I’ve been in business with Pioneer Trading for 20 years on the west side and there’s a lot of good people here,” he said.

“I love doing business on the west side and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”

Cassidy suggested, in addition to Pan, the windows and other aspects of the mural, adding lots of flowers as a nod to the profusion of hanging baskets and flower pots at the front of Bliss.

“The flowers were Leigh’s idea and it really brightens up the mural,” Goffic said.

Sabberwal said he also enjoys doing business on the west side and was very happy with how the mural turned out.

“It’s definitely a challenge to bring people to the west side but we’re have good success,” he said.

He also said as a business he believes it’s important to improve the area around the business.

“I truly believe that’s also contagious – you start doing something good and your neighbours see that and they start to improve,” he said.

“But we can only do our part.

“This mural is not only beautiful, but it celebrates a Cariboo legend and that’s always a good thing.”

Sabberwal said they plan to add a brass plaque so people will know who the fellow in the mural is and what he’s known for.

Diana Phillips added it’s very fitting that her father is on the wall, as Quesnel was where he would come to for whatever he needed in town.

Not only did he drive cattle here but, once he had his pilot’s licence, Quesnel was often his flying destination as well.

As for the murals, she thinks they’re a great addition to any community.

“Murals on buildings are a great way to begin beautification of any area,” she said.

“Look how it put Chemainus on the map.”

As for Cassidy, she appreciates the commitment from the merchants to improve their environment.

“Everyone benefits from a mural,” she said.

“By doing something positive, like the mural, instead of listening to the negative stories, you create a positive reality. Quesnel is a historic town and many people don’t know enough of that history.

“It was a fun project, especially when students stop and ask about the history. They realize their town is a part of that.”

Goffic put the challenge out to other businesses.

“There’s a number of blank walls and I’d like to see them full,” he said.

“This is just the beginning.”

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