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One of Canada’s Largest Public Art Pieces Brings Railway City Brand to Life

New west-end gateway project installed in St. Thomas this week

St. Thomas – December 15, 2017

In 2017, the City of St. Thomas formally adopted the “Railway City” brand that has long been used to characterize the historic heart of the community.  This brand, which represents the strength and resilience of the community as a whole, now has a place to be showcased to the world as the westerly gateway to the City is now home to one of Canada’s largest and most iconic sculptures.

Designed and created by local artist Scott McKay, of Strong Arm Forge, ‘Perseverance’ is a three dimensional, curving and tapering sculpture made from 25 tonnes of atmospheric corrosion resistant steel (ACR) that embodies the resolve of the citizens of St. Thomas and celebrates a railway history that is unmatched in Canada.  With a steam locomotive pulling a coal car, a passenger car and a caboose, the sculpture is nearly 20 metres long and 6 metres tall at the highest point and will be a monument that will stand in the new gateway roundabout for the better part of the next century.

McKay recognizes the importance of this incredible piece of public art and noted that “Embodying the spirit of a community into a sculpture is a challenge that I accepted with this project. ‘Perseverance’ incorporates a historical element referencing the railroad and industrial sectors, while the movement and expanding nature of the sculpture captures the enduring community spirit and bright future for the City.  Creating this work has been a terrific experience for myself and I am proud to have my work associated with the progressive and prosperous City of St. Thomas.

Located in the valley where Talbot Street meets Wellington Road and Sunset Drive, the gateway is a key entry point to the City’s historic west end, which has also recently been upgraded to be a better entryway to the community and to further reflect the railway heritage.  The new roundabout replaced the oldest traffic signal in St. Thomas and will significantly reduce the severity of collisions while providing visitors to the Railway City with a welcoming approach that features the new sculpture and the new branding attractively displayed on the feature wall, with a parking area designed specifically for viewing and enjoying the public art.

City Engineer Justin Lawrence is extremely pleased with this project, saying “The Gateway Roundabout gave the City an opportunity to really make a difference in safety, traffic efficiency, and visitor appeal.  By fully embracing the railway heritage, residents and visitors will be able to enjoy this monumental piece of art for decades.”

The official adoption of the Railway City brand, which was already being used in many circles within the community, gives the City the ability to further differentiate itself from other communities in Ontario.  With a bold font and modern look, the new brand is a contemporary take on the historic railway theme, as the “O” with the solid line underneath represents the engine with the traditional cowcatcher and the fiery colour combination brings the community’s cultural flare to the forefront.  The steam above includes a tribute to Jumbo – a subtle nod to a unique and differentiating part of the history of St. Thomas, with a definitive connection back to the Railway heritage.

With regards to the branding, City Manager Wendell Graves commented that “The City has turned an important corner and has experienced several years of solid growth, along with a burgeoning art and cultural scene.  It was important that the new brand reflect that positive momentum as the City gathers steam and continues to push forward with significant growth and opportunity for those who live, work and visit here.”

With record years for infrastructure improvement, solid residential, industrial and commercial growth, successful festivals and events and now one of Canada’s largest public art pieces being installed at one of the Railway City’s key gateways, there is much to be proud of in St. Thomas. 

Mayor Heather Jackson said “With the success of the #stthomasproud campaign, a great deal of work has been done to grow pride in our community.  I personally am exceptionally proud of the great strides made over the last few years and this incredible sculpture that celebrates the core of our City’s heritage takes that one step further.”


Developed by adHOME Creative, the new St. Thomas brand’s positioning and personality has been leveraged for a new look that speaks to the identity of the community as a whole. To do this, the company first needed to understand how both locals and visitors see St. Thomas. Through surveys, focus groups and input from a diverse range of stakeholders, it became clear that there was a distinct connection to the City’s deep, historic railway roots and the company ran with that and came up with a new corporate identity that would be representative of both the strong railway heritage of St. Thomas and the commitment to a progressive future for residents and businesses.

The adHome creative team noted that “St. Thomas is a strong, close-knit community that’s continually looking ahead and moving forward. We needed to speak to the strength of community at St. Thomas’ core while showcasing the vibrant culture and progressive business ideals.”

To further demonstrate and provide background, adHome produced a video that does an excellent job of encapsulating what the brand represents: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhbLOUlaj3Y&feature=youtu.be

The Perseverance rail sculpture joins the many other railway assets in the community that go to support the Railway City branding, including the Canada Southern (CASO) Station, the BX Tower, the replica London & Port Stanley Railway Station & Tourism Office, the Elgin County Railway Museum, the St. Thomas Elevated Park, the murals found throughout the Downtown, the Jumbo Monument and the many rail lines that cross the City.  

For further information, please contact:

Sean Dyke, General Manager 

St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation


519-631-1680 ext. 4104 (office)