Lavigne Welcome Sign

Welcome to Lavigne

Welcome to Lavigne, the first stop suggested on this tour. This vibrant little community located on the northwestern shores of lake Nipissing came into existence at the beginning of the 20th century when, led by the Catholic Church, the French-Canadian population witnessed a colonization movement.

The arable land in Quebec was occupied and overpopulated and Northern Ontario offered new opportunities for farming and a way to preserve both language and religion.

Even though the actual name Lavigne only appeared in 1914, this is how the community, among many others in the North, were born.

Big Water

Lavigne is situated along the shores of Lake Nipissing, Big Water or "Gichn-bee" in Ojibwa.

Ontario's  third-largest lake entirely in Ontario, it is nearly 80 kms long and about 25 kms wide at its widest. The lake runs in an east-west direction, is relatively shallow (about 10 m in most places) and consequently well aerated, which is conducive to healthy plant and fish life.

Fur trade to fishing

Dozens of rivers and streams drain into Lake Nipissing, the largest being the Sturgeon River. Historically its 2 most important outlets were the Mattawa River, which links it to the Ottawa River system, and the French River, which issues from its southwest end, draining into Georgian Bay.

Along this Ottawa-north Georgian Bay route travelled the early French explorers – the first being Étienne Brulé in 1610 – tracing a path followed by fur traders for the next 200 years. From the 1880s through to WWI Lake Nipissing was a major transportation route for settlers and lumbering.

Since then it has served mainly as a tourist and recreation waterway and is a popular destination among anglers.

Conceptual design

Lavigne is a popular vacation destination for those seeking great fishing or simply some much needed R&R.  Home to several lodges and resorts, the area has a reputation for being a holiday hot spot which greatly inspired recommendations for the community portrait.  

Recurring themes brought forth by the community included camping and cottages, sunsets, snowmobiling, boating, wildlife, the Lavigne bridge, indigenous peoples, fishing and, as a nod to the strong francophone presence in the area, the Fleur de Lys.

Another symbol that the community asked to include is that of the large cross in the Lake, a landmark that denotes the spot where Father Dubuc and four others perished in a terrible accident in 1928. 

Are you observant?

Can you spot the following elements in the Lavigne Community Portrait?

1 float plane, 1 fishing lure, 2 snowmobilers, 2 waterskiers, 1 Franco-Ontarian flag.

Notes from the Artist 


I moved to Lavigne as a teenager from southern Ontario in the 80’s. Considering the size of the community I was very fortunate to find many friends living in the village. We spent the years living and loving life with all that this rural community had to offer, and trust me, there was a lot!

When creating this community portrait, parsing all of my memories and the feedback from the community required some problem solving. Various concepts ran through my mind, falling back on to design basics not just creativity and the use of illusions.

Taking all the ideas and concepts and achieving unity with all the compositions was paramount. Making use of the famed Pickerel, a prized catch in these parts, the viewer’s eye flows throughout the composition to other elements like the pontoon boat and bridge railing.

Colour played an important role in this piece and were extracted from my many memories of this place. If you look closely above the snowmobilers you will notice a salute to our First Nations neighbours with the use of black, white, yellow and red, the colours of their traditional medicine wheel. The green and white Fleur de Lys also makes an appearance in the waves of the North West bay.



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Excerpt of
West Nipissing Mural and Sign Tour

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