Artist Dean Lauze discusses the 160-foot mural he created for Empire Abbotsford on Friday during an unveiling celebration. (Vikki Hopes/Abbotsford News)

Abbotsford, Ontario -- January 17, 2018 -- Auto recycler Empire Abbotsford is now home to Abbotsford’s largest mural - a painting of a scene depicting and celebrating the area’s agricultural history. The 160-foot-long piece, created by Mission artist Dean Lauze of D’Arts with the assistance of his wife Christina and son Josh, is titled “Valley Farm Life Mid 1900s.”

Empire Abbotsford owner Neil James said that about four years ago, he came up with the idea to use his fence for a piece of art “that would celebrate the heritage of our city and complement the natural beauty that surrounds us.”

He and his father purchased Empire back in 1977, and James said he has since developed a “sincere appreciation” for the city. “I’ve had a desire to give something back to this community for a long time,” he said.

James said the piece is located in an ideal spot – in an area with a large volume of traffic and close to the border, providing a good “first impression” to visitors from the U.S.

James said mural artist Lauze was selected to paint the mural after the auto recycling facility put out a request for proposals last summer. The panel was “awestruck” by his submission, according to James.

The piece captures farming in the area in the 1940s and ‘50s, featuring scenes with crops such as strawberries, raspberries and corn. The mural also represents the area’s natural beauty, including Mt. Baker, Mt. Cheam, the Sumas canal and local wildlife.

Mayor Henry Braun was present for the unveiling.

“An event like this highlights the importance and value of art in our city,” Braun said. “Community art enlivens spaces, and it shares stories about a community and celebrates its culture and heritage – what makes it unique.”

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