Collard Creations has painted a new mural on the back of the Red Apple and Strip Mall, in the Gendis Plaza in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba in 2022. It took 3 months to paint (July 1, 2022 until September 30, 2022). Sarah Collard together with her two kids Sonja Wiebe and Manny Wiebe painted diligently to cover this vast wall – 3 designs in one. Mural launch to be announced (TBA). Thanks very much to James Cohen who commissioned it.

Left Side: Historical Section on the back of the Red Apple Store
Cul de Sac: part 2 where the garbage bins are located.
Right Side: features the climber, the Gendis headquarters and the front of the Red Apple.
Panorama of the entire wall.

The story behind the mural:

The Climb of Success is a dynamic historical mural which illustrates the process of building the GENDIS Corporation in Canada.  Featuring three main locations in Manitoba, this mural honours the work of 6 Cohen brothers, the development of their business across Canada and their significance to the Canadian economy.  The headquarters is currently located at 1370 Sony Place in Winnipeg, run by CEO James Cohen. The original ‘Gensers Furniture’ was located downtown at 295 Portage Avenue in Winnipeg which is where the Dollarama is today.  The third location is at 80 E Saskatchewan Avenue in Portage La Prairie where a Red Apple and strip mall occupy its space.  Basically it reads continuously from left to right and continues from one design to the next.  It was designed by Sarah Collard, a talented Manitoba muralist who has painted over 50 murals throughout Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.  Many of those have been through Take Pride Winnipeg. 

This mural depicts the Climb of Success from Albert Cohen selling merchandise out of the back seat of his car to the impressive business expansion, locating 6 brothers across Canada to incorporate, then trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange.  Gendis  soon became a thriving business that ran across Canada importing internationally and distributing from the Pacific Coast through the Central Prairies to the Eastern Provinces.  The mural, starting with Winnipeg’s urban scene, the downtown city scape is historic, bright and colourful.  I wanted to make use of the historic arch which was being renovated so I took the old marble blocks and integrated them into the architectural buildings in Winnipeg’s downtown which is a remarkable memory for many.  It hosts Moore’s family restaurant, Gensers Furniture, Sterling, Ricki’s Ladies Wear, Mardi Gras, Eaton’s Toyland, The Nut House, Capitol Theatre, South Sea Restaurant, Fine Furs, Gramma’s, Marie’s Hairstyling, Imperial News, the Pancake House, Manhatten Restaurant, Canada Permanent Trust, Brathraites Drugs, Picardy, The Chocolate Shop Restaurant, Surprise Shoe Shop, Shiffer Hillman Clothes, Neil Young and the Guess Who, the Prairie Roots Rockers, Richardson Securities and Midland Osler Securities.  The mural uses the analogy of a rock climber to parallel this climb of success. Just as the Canadian economy depends on the pipeline and oil market, a mountain climber depends on the varied surface of the Canadian shield to advance in height.  This mural is meant as a way to bring the natural surroundings into the urban setting.  It references the investment trail from the Alberta mountains to Chicago; an international stage.  The business started in 1931 by Albert Cohen and Son and was later known as General Distributors Ltd.  Five brothers joined the company and acted as agents and wholesalers for a variety of products.  There was Morley in Montreal, John (Chauncey) in Toronto, Harry in Calgary, Joseph in Vancouver, and Sam and Albert at headquarters in Winnipeg.  Albert was James Cohen’s father.  The company owned 300 SAAN stores, they imported Paper Mate pens and founded SONY Canada.  Albert Cohen received Japan’s Order of the Rising Sun and was inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame.  Many books have been written about this entrepreneurial giant such as The Entrepreneurs.  Five of the six Cohen brothers have been inducted into the Order of Canada.  Their accomplishments have been immense just as this mural seems to go on forever.  Echoing James Cohen singing, Dreaming My Life Away this mural is a song to the One Great Creator, a thanksgiving for all your hard work.

Size of the Mural: left side 17ft x 75ft, middle section 17 ft x 26ft, right side 13ft x 105ft.