Right of Way - The Chemong Portage Project

Otonabee River aerial

Land acknowledgement

We respectfully acknowledge that the City of Peterborough is on the treaty and traditional territory of the Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg. We offer our gratitude to the First Peoples for their care for, and teachings about, our earth and our relations. May we honour those teachings.


The City of Peterborough’s Public Art Program invites Indigenous visual artists living in Peterborough and local First Nations to submit proposals for a public art project to commemorate the Chemong Portage.

The project is being shaped by a working group comprised of design professionals, and local First Nations leaders and knowledge keepers, with input from curators specializing in contemporary Indigenous artwork and curatorial practice and members of the community at large.

Background and vision

TA sketch of a map showing the Chemong Portage Routehe Public Art Program produces contemporary artwork to enhance and animate public spaces throughout the city, create landmarks and gathering places, and to commemorate events and sites of historical significance. Artwork is incorporated into planning and development through public art plans and civic commissions. Many public art projects have also been developed in collaboration with arts or community organizations or with local businesses.

The Chemong Portage is an approximately 10-kilometre-long footpath and portage that once ran between Nogojiwanong/Peterborough and gchi-maang (Chemong Lake).  

Nogojiwanong is a Nishnaabeg word meaning “place at the foot of the rapids” and the name given to the gathering place at the bottom of a turbulent stretch of the Odoonabii-ziibi (Otonabee River), renamed Peterborough by European settlers.

Right of Way acknowledges these ancestral lands and the thousands of years the Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg navigated this route between their winter camps and traditional fishing grounds at the mouth of the Ganaraske-ziibi (Ganaraska River) on Chi’Nibiish Lake Ontario.

The intent of Right of Way- The Chemong Portage Project is to commemorate the portage in a way that allows people to experience it. Visual artists are invited to submit digital images of their original artwork. Selected images will be printed onto vinyl media and wrapped around traffic signal cabinets located close to what is thought to be the original portage route.  

Artworks should, in some manner, consider the setting and stories from this land.

“Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg travelled extensively in our homeland. We moved around according to the seasons. We did not colonize and settle like the French and British. They found it difficult to understand how we occupied our territory. They found it difficult to mark us on their maps because we were always moving…

 As I’ve said before the Mich Saagiig Nishnaabeg have been here in Ontario for a long, long time and are descendants of the people that were living here in the time of glaciation, 8,000 years ago and beyond. As Nishnaabeg we tell stories that we are here, temporarily leaving at times because of weather, severe glaciation and diseases and the expansive ideas of other nations who were being prompted by colonizers. We have loved and cherished this land for a long, long time.”                                                                —    Doug Williams (Gidigaa Migizi), Michi Saagig Nishnaabeg: This is our Territory

Submission Deadline: Tuesday June 25th, 2024 at 4:00 p.m.Signal Box at King and Water Street

The Public Art Program is committed to supporting artists by providing resources and staff support through the course of the project. Please read the full call and familiarize yourself with the Submittable application before submitting your proposal.


The portage trailhead was located at present-day Millennium Park. The trail wound its way through the centre of Nogojiwanong/Peterborough, up the route that became Chemong Road to Bridgenorth.   

Artworks selected for Right of Way will cover traffic signal cabinets and electrical supply boxes located at intersections in proximity to the historic route.

Find out more about the Chemong Portage 

Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg: This is Our Territory


Nogojiwanong Traditional Area


The Chemong Portage – As told by Doug Williams to Julie Kapyrka  


Notes on The Chemong Portage - Trent Valley Archives


Map of Downtown Nogojiwanong - Peterborough


Commission value  

Commissioned artists will receive $1,500 (including HST) for each artwork selected (as per the current CARFAC fee schedule). This is a design only commission. The City of Peterborough will be responsible for the fabrication and installation of the wraps. The target completion date for this project is late summer 2024.

Who can apply?

This is project is open to Indigenous visual artists and creators (emerging and established) residing in Peterborough and surrounding First Nations. The term Indigenous, in this context, includes those who identify as status or non-status First Nations and who are affiliated with an Indigenous organization.

Applicants must be 18 years of age or older.

Information sessions

Artists are encouraged to attend one of three information sessions offered in early June. Public art program staff will be in attendance to answer questions.   

Hiawatha First Nation Cultural Centre 

  • Monday, June 3, 2024, at 3:30 p.m.  
  • 431 Hiawatha Line  
  • Hiawatha First Nation  

Peterborough Public Library  

  • Monday, Monday June 3, 2024, at 6:30 p.m.  
  • 345 Aylmer St. N, Peterborough 

Curve Lake Nation Cultural Centre  

  • Tuesday, June 4, 2024, at 4:30 p.m. 
  • 1024 Mississauga St.
  • Curve Lake First Nation 

Equity and Inclusion

Peterborough’s Public Art Program seeks to embody the values, policies and practices that ensure that all people — including but not limited to those who have been historically underrepresented based on age, race/ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, geography, or religion — are represented in the planning, selection, and production of art in public places.

Special attention to the importance of artwork created by Black, Indigenous, and racialized artists, as well as other equity-priority groups, is appropriate and essential to the future of the arts sector.

Accommodation & Accessibility

The Public Art Program is committed to open, fair, and transparent processes. Staff are available to assist applicants, answer questions and provide feedback on your drafted application, up to one week before the deadline. Please contact us as early as you can to ensure we can provide the best support possible. We are available to provide support through email, over the phone, or the use of audio and video platforms. To book an appointment please contact Public Art Facilitator, Wendy Trusler.

Submissions Guidelines

This is a one-stage selection process. Proposals must be submitted online through Submittable.com.  

 You will be asked to include the following:

  • Preliminary Design: Please submit a preliminary sketch of the proposed design. This is intended to be a work in progress/concept sketch rather than a finished piece.
  • Concept Description: Please provide a written outline of the proposed artwork. This could include details about your approach or how the artwork is intended to be interpreted and understood. (500 words maximum).
  • Biography (250 words maximum)
  • Current CV (3 pages maximum)
  • Visual Support Material with Support Material List (5 images maximum). Please provide images of past work that reveal your experience and expertise as related to your proposal. The Support Material List should include the title of the work, date created, medium, and dimensions. 

How to Apply

Applications for Right of Way will be accepted online through the Submittable platform. To use Submittable, you will need to register for a free account. 

Apply now: Right of Way

Application Deadline:  Tuesday June 25, 2024, at 4 p.m.

We thank all applicants contributing their time and professional work for this call. Applications that do not adhere to these criteria, are late or incomplete will be disqualified. All applicants will be notified with the selection committee’s decision by mid July. 

Selection Process & Criteria

A selection committee composed of five voting members will review all submissions. The selection committee will represent a diversity of artistic, cultural practices and expertise, and include members of the City’s Arts and Culture Advisory Committee, the Right of Way Project Working Group and members of the community at large. City staff serve as non-voting advisors as required.

The committee will discuss each application and make final decisions in a meeting facilitated by the Public Art Program staff.

The selection committee will discuss each application and make their recommendation to staff considering artistic merit, relevance, and feasibility.  

 Artistic Merit 
  • Quality of the applicant’s preliminary design and support material, and its relationship to the project.
  • Quality and clarity of the applicant’s creative statement, project description, goals, and rationale.
  • Applicant’s achievements, professional qualifications.
  • Appropriateness of the proposal to the project terms of reference and ability to advance the Public Art Program goals.
  • Appropriateness to the site and community context and the Public Art Collection as a whole
 Project Feasibility
  • Artist’s experience and perceived capacity to meet project milestones. 

Commissioning Process: 

The City’s Arts, Culture and Heritage Advisory Committee (ACAC) will receive the Selection Committee’s findings. Commissioned artists will be required to enter into an agreement with the City of Peterborough. Artists will be given time and assistance to finalize their design and adapt it for printing.


  • Information Session Hiawatha First Nation: Monday June 3, 2024, at 3:30 p.m.
  • Information Session at Peterborough Public Library: Monday June 3 at 6:30 p.m.
  • Information Session Curve Lake First Nation: Tuesday June 4, 2024, at 4:30 p.m.
  • Proposal Deadline: Tuesday, June 25, 2024, at 4 p.m.
  • Artist Notifications: Mid-July 2024
  • Project Installation and Launch: September 2024

About this Opportunity

This Call for Proposals is being administered through the City of Peterborough’s Public Art Program, Arts Culture and Heritage Division, Community Services.

Please direct questions to:

Wendy Trusler, Public Art Facilitator, City of Peterborough

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