If any one project could be said to define the Spirit Way, it might well be the 86-foot image of Robert Bateman’s s iconic “Wolf Sketch” on the side of Thomspon’s tallest building, the 10-storey Highland Tower.
Bateman, having been informed of the Spirit Way plan, allowed his painting be used to create the mural. As word of the project
spread, queries arrived from artists and mural companies in North America all wanting to participate. Yet a significant hurdle remained: How would Spirit Way raise the $100,000 to $200,000 needed to see the project through to completion? In June 2005, at a gala evening at the Northstar Saloon at the Thompson Inn, over $20,000 was raised for the mural. When a donation of $125,000 from Manitoba Hydro was announced, the room erupted. In August 2005, Charles Johnston, an award-winning muralist from Winnipeg, completed the stunning likeness of Bateman’s 18-inch original.
Today the peering wolf is visible from over a mile away. Bateman’s message of a predator looking “eye to eye with respect” at the viewer is emblematic of the spirit of pride, brotherhood and mutual respect between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities epitomized by the project.