Sunday, December 16, 2012


Well, I almost forgot about inchies this week, what with Christmas and all.

And this week's theme wasn't the easiest. 
But there is a cute little story behind what I finally decided as my interpretation:


Toronto's major access route from the suburbs to downtown and back, is the Don Valley Parkway.  Running along the side of the Parkway at a certain point -- and you can only see it if you are going northbound -- is a pedestrian underpass for people wishing to enjoy the adjoining parkland..

Back in 1972, a 16 year-old, Berg Johnson from Norway, got the great idea to paint a rainbow around the outside of the tunnel to bring some cheer to commuters heading home from work at the end of the day, especially if they were stuck in rush hour on what is facetiously often called the Don Valley Parking Lot. 

Parks Departments being what they are, they immediately painted over Johnson's rainbow. But he persevered and each time they painted over it, he repainted it -- 40 times! --  eventually winning them over. It was quite a daunting task to paint the rainbow. There is what was thought at the time to be an unused CN rail track running above the tunnel. Johnson was hanging upside down from a rope attached to the rails in order to paint the tunnel when a train whizzed by, slicing the rope and sending him down the embankment where he suffered a broken leg. He used a ladder for the next 39 times!

Various people have tried to restore the deterioration that has taken place over the years, but only recently has the city decided to restore the landmark so familiar to Torontonians. The $20,000 two-phase project will turn the entire tunnel into public art, with the help of local youth. It only took them 40 years (there's that number again, AJ and snafu) to come to their senses!

This is what it looked like at its worst....


...and at its best:

I am sure there will be some fascinating rainbow inchies here this week. Why not pop over and take a look!


  1. What a gorgeous idea and what a lovely way for you to commemorate it. It's a shame that the vandals and taggers don't respect it!

    40 years, eh? It's a magic number. :)

  2. That is an interesting and unusual use of the theme, not just because of the 40 bit, although that is interesting too. Authorities are often slow to recognise what people really want. We had a situation like that here but unfortunately the authorities have won and a lot of really good art was lost forever under whitewash.

  3. Great story and what perseverance! I think it was a wonderful idea. We had a similar thing happen here. A local artist made a mosaic on the wall of an underpass. It was "The Surfing Madonna" (we are a surfing community) and was a magnificent work of art. But the insufferable 'powers that be' said it had to be taken down because it was politically incorrect! After much outrage and at a cost of thousands of dollars, it was carefully removed and re-erected on private land. Everything anyone does can be politically incorrect to someone. Such stuff and nonsense!

  4. What a wonderful tunnel. Can't understand why so many people don't respect the beauty of it and spry their graphics on it.
    Great idea to take it for your inchie.

  5. I love the inchie and the story is so interesting!

  6. This inchie was already a delight, but with that story of courage, persistence and a genuine desire to bring pleasure to people's lives becomes a treasure.

  7. My family calls it "Rainbow bridge." They have seen their whole lives and yes also during the worst of times. It was sad then. I'm glad you shared the story because I never knew how it started.

  8. greetings toronto citizens.41 years ago on sept 4th a friend of mine was killed on the don valley in a firy car crash cause by a drunk driver,I painted that rainbow for Sigred.A rainbow smile,A promise i made her,she was 40years older than me, and a true friend,That rainbow was a challenge, yes i did break a leg, when a train cut the rope swing i was on. i had tied a rope to the tracks.i had never seen a train on those tracks lol was i surprized,I am norwegian but from the remote faroe islands,I only painted one rainbow.many do not know this, but don mills teens helped me pay for the paint,their valley beer parties supplied the recycled cash.I also cleaned up the broken glass and litter,and i palnted trees and wild flowers,I was never arrested, i was warned however that it was against the law in canada, so i stopped after i had repainted it many times,thought i was using the wrong paint, but it was the city greying it out,I became friends with the peace lady,I became a National gallery artist,41 years of my art in Canada.i met those who restored my rainbow, thanked them on Canada day,they put in tons of creative energy into it,Tons of love, and respect,Donvalleys gem. sure has changed,I am creating a secret garden for mural routes for free,transforming their lives as they showed me true friendship,A quilt is a lovely idea, i give you copywrite permission, sincerly berg c johnson

  9. bc Johnson. I am just reading this now, in 2022, in the midst of Covid. I was searching back in my blog, which I haven’t used for years, looking for something else. I’m thrilled you took the time to add to the story. I wish that those who commented in my post could have read your response. They would have been so interested. Would love to know where your secret garden is?