Artist turns GO bus into his canvas to celebrate history and Toronto Caribbean Carnival

A bright and colourful GO Bus will soon hit the roads. Metrolinx has an ongoing partnership with the Toronto Caribbean Carnival and together they’re unveiling a bus wrap to commemorate Emancipation Day in Canada. See the renderings below from a renown Toronto artist who turned a GO bus into a vibrant work of art to celebrate of one of North America’s largest cultural events.

It’s a new bus wrap design that’s bound to catch your eye.

The new GO bus wrap, created as part of Toronto Caribbean Carnival events and education, features vibrant, bright colours, masqueraders, a steel pan and other images synonymous with the famous cultural event.

Metrolinx is a supporter of Toronto’s Caribbean Carnival and the transit agency is unveiling a GO bus wrap to celebrate that partnership.

Mark Stoddart at work in his studio. (Metrolinx photo)
Mark Stoddart at work in his studio. (Metrolinx photo)

Toronto’s Caribbean Carnival is Canada’s celebration of freedom and diversity and for the first time this year, August 1 will officially be declared as Emancipation Day in Canada, a federally recognized holiday.

Festivities look different again this year due to the pandemic, but Metrolinx is still celebrating with a commemorative bus – a special initiative that required an extra special touch when it came to the design.

“When I heard about the project, I automatically knew how I wanted to approach this,” recalls Mark Stoddart, a local Toronto artist who’s worked closely with the Ontario Black History Society (OBHS).

“Once I found out that the theme was ‘Freedom and Diversity’ I wanted to illustrate the historical theme of carnival in Toronto and capture the significance of August 1.”

See the behind the scenes video of Stoddart’s design below.

As part of the design, Stoddart’s decided to incorporate the sun which symbolizes a new day and the Fawohodie Adinkra symbol, signifying independence, freedom and emancipation. 

“It’s an honor to have my design portrayed on a different medium that will been seen by thousands of individuals on a daily basis,” The artist says. “More importantly, having a part of our history expressed and displayed to an audience that may not have known our history is a teaching moment for all.”

Image shows the decorated bus.
Inspired by Emancipation Day, renowned Toronto artist, Mark Stoddart, turned a GO bus into his canvas to celebrate of one of North America’s largest cultural events. (Mark Stoddart image)

This year marks the 54th anniversary of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival and while The Grand Parade and other large events may be cancelled, organizers are still bringing a bite-sized taste of Toronto Carnival and Caribbean culture to Toronto. Live, in-person experiences are planned with Toronto’s top Mas Bands, bringing costumes, music, and dance to select patios across the greater Toronto region.

The Festival will close with the Toronto Carnival Weekend grand finale from July 30 to August 1 at Scarborough Town Centre. The event will feature food trucks, costumes, live entertainment and more.

To learn more about the events happening, click here

Over the last four years, prior to the pandemic, GO transit has had more than 75,000 inbound and outbound trips during the event, and even created additional train service on the Milton, Stouffville, and Kitchener Lines to accommodate those attending the Grand Parade.

In 2019, the transit agency provided more than 20,000 trips to and from the event.

Metrolinx is looking at new ways to make it easier and more affordable to take GO transit to the Toronto Caribbean Carnival moving forward.

More details will be announced closer to event in 2022.

In the meantime the transit agency is looking forward to bringing customers to the smaller-scale events this year, hopefully in a vibrant, bright, and colourful GO bus.

Story by Nitish Bissonauth, Metrolinx bilingual spokesperson, media relations and issues specialist.