Providence Bay plays a special role in Waterlution artist’s memories

Great Art for Great Lakes

GREAT LAKES— Waterlution’s Great Art for Great Lakes project has chosen Julieanne Steedman as the artist to represent the Providence Bay portion of the art project.

Although Ms. Steedman began life in Lively, her heart (and much of her family) lie in the Providence Bay/Spring Bay area.

“I did a happy dance when I got the call,” said Ms. Steedman. “Providence Bay is so special to me. My family and I have been spending summers on Manitoulin since I was three and my parents and sister now live on the Island. It was definitely a win.”

Ms. Steedman is a working artist. “I make art, sell art, make prints, art is how I make my living,” she said.

Islanders may be familiar with Ms. Steedman’s work, she held an exhibit in Little Current’s Island Jar last year with a series of works that had a definite pointillist influence—but that was so last year. “I have moved on from that,” she laughed.

Great Lakes Art Project artist Julieanne Steedman paddles her canoe in the waters whose stories she has been chosen to represent.

These days Ms. Steedman has been very much influenced by the art of cartography. “I became fascinated with maps and the art that is associated with maps,” she said. The back wall of her cottage on Manitoulin is adorned with a large map of her own creation. “I used 10 different maps to put it together.” It was definitely a labour of love, or at least a labour. “I was constantly discovering a number of new things to put on it,” she said. “It gets really complicated because some of the places I knew by one name from my childhood have a different name today.”

In her research she discovered long all-but-forgotten towns that once dotted the Island landscape.

Ms. Steedman generally works in watercolours, but she also does work in acrylics.

The official press release for the project notes: “Julieanne looks forward to working with the local community to create meaningful artwork that will share history, build connections and tell a story; the story that the lake has to share. This collaborative work will celebrate the small truths and hidden miracles of our northern environment—its history, people and landscape.” 

“I am very excited,” she elaborated for The Expositor. “I will be gathering stories of the (Great) Lakes,” she said, noting that the Waterlution project will be hosting a Providence Bay Beach Social on July 1 from 3 pm to 5 pm at the newly renovated Providence Bay Village Park Beach from where the public is invited to share their favourite Great Lake story with her. Ms. Steedman will then weave their story into her artwork, Stories of the Lake. “My role is as facilitator in this part of the project,” she said. “Everyone has a story of the Lakes, it could be something that their parents or grandparents told to them.” Ms. Steedman will be taking notes in a variety of ways and will later incorporate some of those stories into an artwork. She will be at the Mutchmor in Providence Bay on Friday, June 16 from 11 am to 1 pm. “Anyone who wants to can pop in to talk to me,” she said.

Participants are invited to visit Ms. Steedman’s tent on the beach, enjoy some bannock and berries, or perhaps join Manitoulin Streams on a Beach Walk and sign up to share their own Great Lake story with her. Participants that aren’t able to attend the event can still share their story via email at

Waterlution’s Great Art for Great Lakes is sponsoring similar projects in seven other Great Lakes communities, including Toronto, Aamjiwnaang First Nation, Thunder Bay and Kingston. Each community will host public events to introduce their commissioned artist who will collaboratively create a permanent work of art to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. Great Art for Great Lakes is funded through the Canada 150 Fund and the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Ms. Steedman’s ‘Stories of the Lake’ is to be installed at Providence Bay Village Square, Pad #6, sometime in August 2017.