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Terminal Beef (blast from the past)


For reasons I cannot begin to understand certain of my paintings stay front of mind for a very long time. Others don’t live with me for nearly so long. Terminal Beef is a painting I made back in 1998. Although it is a picture I have not exhibited, Terminal Beef is one that still resonates with me. I wish I could more easily identify what makes this particular piece sticky for me. I suppose in part it is because it is an orphan, an oddball in the greater body of my paintings. It’s awkward and the imagery evokes certain personal connections for me that make me laugh. The title of this painting comes from a sign in the old Stockyards in Toronto’s west end. Most of those stockyard buildings have been replaced with box stores and the like. I’m not sure if the sign is still standing, or even exactly where it was. I’m happy though, this painting has a good home.

I was thinking about Terminal Beef today and I was trying to recall what other paintings I was doing at the same time and how they might have been related to this one. I usually work on more than one painting at a time, and sometimes several at once, and often paintings share certain visual ideas. The one painting I can think of that was made around the same time is a quite large two-panel job called The Source.


The two don’t look much alike. I think they are related some though in that I used spray enamel in each of them, and the process or approach to both was similar. The Source was exhibited in an exhibition called Canadian Shield along with a suite of small paintings. I remember this very well because I was really excited about exhibiting this painting, but it turned out many people really liked the small paintings but few had any time for The Source (and some people even took the trouble to share some criticism of this one). Fortunately, I have thick skin. I’ve kept this big diptych in storage. As with Terminal Beef this painting is still very satisfying to me. Maybe one day I’ll exhibit it again. It would be interesting to see if after a couple decades it gets a more positive response.


  1. Miss Polly

    Very cool. I love the background information and I love the source of the title. I had a chuckle thinking that the only sign that stands out in my mind from that area today is “Staples”

    Terminal Beef
    Cause: Staples

    Not quite “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot” but possibly a more adequate analogy in our time. They shut down the beef terminal and raised a big box store!!

    • I think the sign may have been on one of the buildings west of where the big box stores are. I recall you could see it from St. Clair when driving by. When I was a boy my father had a business at near Dundas and Runnymede and I would be turned loose to play with the local Junction kids. We would sometimes go to where the tracks were behind George Bell Arena and we would put pennies on the tracks and wait for the train to come by. If we placed a penny just right the train would squash it, but if the placement was not perfect, it would go flying off the track. Playing around train tracks with freight trains going by may not have received the Elmer the Safety Elephant seal of approval but it sure was fun. Another game was to score some discarded spray paint cans from a local business. We would collect chunks of cement and bricks and anything else we could find and take turns hurling these items at a spray can, strategically placed in the middle of the lane which ran behind Dundas St. The winner punctured the can, making it dance from the residual pressure. Again, not Elmer approved, but fun.

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