Artists and community collaborate to keep our waters clean

By Joseph Hutt –

Keeping the Ottawa River safe and clean is no small task for The Ottawa Riverkeeper (TOR), but a local art gallery has decided to lend a hand in preserving this community resource. On October 8, the Wall Space Gallery launched Point of View, a fundraising exhibit put together in collaboration with TOR and the Canadian Art Collective (CAC).

Left to right: Patricia Barr, Laurie de Camillis, Meredith Brown, Stewart Jones, Peter Rotter, Ruth McKlusky, David Lidbetter, and Edward Barr. Photo by Joseph Hutt
Left to right: Patricia Barr, Laurie de Camillis, Meredith Brown, Stewart Jones, Peter Rotter, Ruth McKlusky, David Lidbetter, and Edward Barr. Photo by Joseph Hutt

“When we set out to develop this gallery in the heart of Westboro Village, we had envisioned a project-driven space and an opportunity to support the community in which we live,” Gallery Director Patricia Barr explains.

Knowing how important a community resource the Ottawa River is, and how much TOR relies on community support, Barr worked to set this collaboration in motion. The first step was bringing together TOR Development Director, Ruth McKlusky, and CAC artist, David Lidbetter.

“Lidbetter has been painting the Ottawa River all his life,” Barr says. “This was a natural pairing.”

Lidbetter could not agree more. “I love the Ottawa River,” he says. “I have canoed it, camped along it, swam in it, fished it and painted it from Temiscaming to Montebello in all four seasons over the past 20 years.”

If it means preserving the river for generations to come, Lidbetter claims, “I personally will do whatever I can to help [TOR] in their efforts.”

“Collaborative efforts like this are fantastic,” McKlusky affirms on behalf of TOR. “A big important piece of loving the [Ottawa] River involves art and culture,” and using these cultural aspects “to connect people to the water.” This is exactly what the Point of View exhibit endeavors to do.

Point of View features four unique paintings and perspectives of the Ottawa River, crafted and donated by CAC artists Lidbetter, Laurie de Camillis, Peter Rotter, and Stewart Jones.

“We decided on the title ‘Point of View’,” Lidbetter explains, “to illustrate our love of the Canadian landscape and how each of us has a different way of seeing and interpreting it… I hope people visiting the gallery will feel this passion.”

TOR representatives were also present during the launch to share their perspectives of the Ottawa River. With a handful of presentations, they offered an interesting element of context to this artistic evening.

Proceeds from the launch and the sale of this body of works (the latter totaling $6400) will be donated to TOR. This donation, McKlusky says, “will enable us to continue to raise awareness and work together for a healthy and accessible river, and for a watershed where we can safely swim, drink, and fish our local waters.”

While this event has highlighted how well this group can work together, it should come as no surprise that this is not the first time that they have collaborated. On August 21, Lidbetter, TOR, and Wall Space Gallery took over Winston Square to host a day of activities meant to entertain and educate the community about the Ottawa River and its role in the community.

As McKlusky explains, “We all realize that it takes a watershed to protect a river. Our river supports life and brings health and happiness to our communities.”

The group  recently welcomed the Clocktower Brew Pub into this collaboration as well. As more people come to acknowledge the importance of what they are trying to preserve, this collaborative effort will only continue to grow.

The paintings will be on display at Wall Space Gallery (358 Richmond Rd.) until Saturday October 31. For more information go to


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