The City of Peterborough’s Public Art Program helps to create culturally enriched public spaces that are not only safe and comfortable, but also foster a sense of place and an emotional attachment to Peterborough’s urban and natural environment.

Call to Visual Artists 

Land Acknowledgement

We respectfully acknowledge that the City of Peterborough is on the treaty and traditional territory of the Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg. We offer our gratitude to the First Peoples for their care for, and teachings about, our earth and our relations. May we honour those teachings.


The City of Peterborough’s Public Art Program invites Indigenous visual artists living in Peterborough and surrounding First Nations to submit proposals for a public art project to commemorate the Chemong Portage. 

The project is being shaped by a working group comprised of design professionals, and local First Nations leaders and knowledge keepers, with input from curators specializing in contemporary Indigenous artwork and curatorial practice and members of the community at large.

Program Background and Vision

The City of Peterborough Public Art Program produces contemporary artwork to enhance and animate public spaces throughout the city, create landmarks and gathering places, and to mark events and sites of historical significance.

The Chemong Portage is a six- or seven-mile footpath and portage that once ran between Nogojiwanong and gchi-maang (Chemong Lake). 

Nogojiwanong is a Nishnaabeg word meaning “place at the foot of the rapids” and the name given to the gathering place at the bottom of a turbulent stretch of the Odoonabii-ziibi (Otonabee River), renamed Peterborough by European settlers.

Right of Way acknowledges these ancestral lands and the thousands of years the Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg navigated this route between their winter camps and traditional fishing grounds at the mouth of the Ganaraske-ziibi (Ganaraska River) on Chi’Nibiish Lake Ontario. 

The intent of Right of Way is to commemorate the portage in a way that allows people to experience it. Visual artists are invited to submit digital images of their original artwork. Selected images will be printed onto vinyl media and wrapped around traffic signal cabinets located close to what is thought to be the original portage route.  

Artworks should, in some manner, consider the setting and stories from this land. 

“Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg travelled extensively in our homeland. We moved around according to the seasons. We did not colonize ad settle like the French and British. They found it difficult to understand how we occupied our territory. They found it difficult to mark us on their maps because we were always moving…

 As I’ve said before the Mich Saagiig Nishnaabeg have been here in Ontario for a long, long time and are descendants of the people that were living here in the time of glaciation, 8,000 years ago and beyond. As Nishnaabeg we tell stories that we are here, temporarily leaving at times because of weather, severe glaciation and diseases and the expansive ideas of other nations who were being prompted by colonizers. We have loved and cherished this land for a long, long time.”

— Doug Williams (Gidigaa Migizi), Michi Saagig Nishnaabeg: This is our Territory

More information about the Chemong Portage can be found at the end of this document. ( link)

The Public Art Program is committed to supporting artists by providing resources and staff support through the course of the project. Please read the full call and familiarize yourself with the Submittable application before submitting your proposal. 


 The portage trailhead was located at present-day Millennium Park, Peterborough. The trail wound its way through the centre of Nogojiwanong/Peterborough, up what became Chemong Road to Bridgenorth. Artworks selected for Right of Way will cover traffic signal cabinets and electrical supply boxes located at intersections in proximity to the historic route

Commission Value 

Commissioned artists will receive $1,500 (including HST) for each artwork selected (as per the current CARFAC fee schedule). This is a design only commission. The City of Peterborough will be responsible for the fabrication and installation of the wraps. The target completion date for this project is late summer 2024..

Who Can Apply?

 This project is open to Indigenous visual artists and creators (emerging and established) residing in Peterborough and surrounding First Nations. The term Indigenous, in this context, includes those who identify as status or non-status First Nations and who are affiliated with an Indigenous organization.

Applicants must be 18 years of age or older. 

 Information Sessions 

Join us at one of three information sessions to learn more about the project and how to apply: 

Hiawatha First Nation Cultural Centre

Monday June 3rd, 2024, at 3:30pm 

Hiawatha First Nation 

431 Hiawatha Line 


Peterborough Public Library 

Monday, Monday June 3rd, 2024, at 6:30pm 

345 Aylmer St N



Curve Lake Nation Cultural Centre 

Tuesday June 4th, 2024, at 4:30

1024 Mississauga Street

Curve Lake First Nation


 Equity and Inclusion 

   The Public Art Program seeks to embody the values, policies and practices that ensure that all people — including but not limited to those who have been historically underrepresented based on age, race/ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, geography, or religion — are represented in the planning, selection, and production of art in public places. 

Special attention to the importance of artwork created by Black, Indigenous, and racialized artists, as well as other Equity-priority Groups is appropriate and essential to the future of the arts sector.

 Accommodation & Accessibility

   The Public Art Program is committed to open, fair, and transparent processes. Staff are available to assist applicants, answer questions and provide feedback on your drafted application, up to two days before the deadline. Please contact us as early as you can to ensure we can provide the best support possible. We are available to provide support through email, over the phone, or the use of audio and video platforms. To book an appointment please contact Public Art Facilitator, Wendy Trusler.

Design Specifications 

All designs must adhere to the following specifications.  

  • Artwork must be original and cannot infringe on copyright of any other individual or company. 
  •  Artwork may not contain representations of traffic lights, signs, or signals.
  • Artwork may not include logos, company names or any form of advertising or promotion. 
  • Artwork must be suitable for public display and may not contain imagery or writing that may be interpreted as profane, offensive, hateful, insensitive, violent or illegal. 
  • Artwork should deter defacement. Strategies to discourage tagging and postering  include creating a design using a rich colour palette and minimizing light colours and avoiding large areas of  solid colour and/or blank spaces within the artwork.

 Submissions Guidelines 

This is a one-stage selection process. Proposals must be submitted online through 

You will be asked to include the following:

  • ·Preliminary Design: Please submit a preliminary sketch of the proposed design. This is intended to be a work in progress/concept sketch rather than a finished piece. 
  • ·Concept Description: Please provide a written outline of the proposed artwork. This could include details about your approach or how the artwork is intended to be interpreted and understood. (500 words max).
  •  · Biography (250 words max)
  • Current CV  (3 pages max)
  •  Visual Support Material with Support Material List (5 images max). Please provide images of past work that reveal  your experience and expertise as related to your proposal. The Support Material List should include the title of the work, date created, medium, and dimensions. 

 How to Apply

Applications for Right of Way will be accepted online through the Submittable platform. To use Submittable, you will need to register for a free account. Please submit your application for Right of Way using the application found below.

 Application Deadline:  Tuesday June 25th, 2024, at 4 p.m.

We thank all applicants contributing their time and professional work for this call. Applications that do not adhere to these criteria, are late or incomplete will be disqualified. All applicants will be notified with the selection committee’s decision by mid July.

Selection Process & Criteria

A selection committee composed of five voting members will review all submissions. The selection committee will represent a diversity of artistic, cultural practices and expertise, and include members of the City’s Arts and Culture Advisory Committee, the Right of Way Project Working Group and members of the community at large. City staff serve as non-voting advisors as required. 

The committee will discuss each application and make final decisions in a meeting facilitated by the Public Art Program staff. 

The selection committee will discuss each application and make their recommendation to staff considering artistic merit, relevance, and feasibility.  

Artistic Merit

  • Quality of the applicant’s preliminary design and support material, and its relationship to the project. 
  • Quality and clarity of the applicant’s creative statement, project description, goals, and rationale. 
  • Applicant’s achievements, professional qualifications.


  • Appropriateness of the proposal to the project terms of reference and ability to advance the Public Art Program goals. 
  • Appropriateness to the site and community context and the Public Art Collection as a whole


  • Artist’s experience and perceived capacity to meet project milestones. 

Commissioning Process

The City’s Arts, Culture and Heritage Advisory Committee (ACAC) will receive the Selection Committee’s findings. Commissioned artists will be required to enter into an agreement with the City of Peterborough. Artists will be given time and assistance to finalize their design and adapt it for printing. 

 Project Timeline 

  •  Information Session at Hiawatha First Nation: Monday June 3rd, 2024, at 3:30p.m. 
  • Information Session at Peterborough Public Library: Monday June 3rd, 2024, at 630 p.m.
  •  Information Session at Curve Lake First Nation: Tuesday June 4th, 2024, at 4:30pm 
  • Proposal Deadline: Tuesday, June 25th, 2024, at 4 p.m. 
  • Artist Notifications: Mid-July 2024
  • Project Installation and Launch: September 2024


Project Context 

Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg: This is   Our Territory

Nogojiwanong   Traditional Area  

The Chemong   Portage – As told by Doug Williams to Julie   Kapyrka  

Notes on The Chemong Portage - Trent Valley Archives 

Map of Downtown Nogojiwanong -   Peterborough 

 About this Opportunity 

Right of Way  is being  developed in consultation with the  with the City of Peterborough's Transportation División .  It is being administered and funded through the City’s Public Art Program. 

Please direct questions to: 

Wendy Trusler Public Art Facilitator City of Peterborough 

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Public Art Program—City of Peterborough