Mary Lou Labrie, left, and Laurel Cook at the Erskine mural, outside the Clayton General Store’s shed on Tatlock Road. Photo: © Fay Devlin
Mary Lou Labrie, left, and Laurel Cook at the Erskine mural, outside the Clayton General Store’s shed on Tatlock Road. Photo: © Fay Devlin

A mutual interest in refreshing the murals of Mississippi Mills led residents to hatch a plan.

“Mary Lou Labrie and I met last year,” writes Laurel Cook. “She was a member of the seniors group that funded the three outdoor murals at the Post Office. Over time, those murals degraded and were badly in need of repair.

“Mary Lou and a few other seniors worked very hard raising almost $3500 [along with donations from the Town of Mississippi Mills and businesses] to have them repaired.”

“Meanwhile, I decided that I would try my hand at painting a new mural for Clayton, which was definitely a challenge for me.”

Laurel donated her time to produce the mural of Johnnie Erskine who, along with his wife, Esther Rath, owned and operated the Clayton General Store from 1932 to 1946. According to Laurel, “he was a colorful character and well liked within the community. He later bought and operated the IGA in Almonte and is fondly remembered.”

Through this project, “Mary Lou and I became ‘mural moral supporter’ for one another,” Laurel adds. “Mary Lou’s hard work to rescue the seniors’ murals was an inspiration.”