Duck-costumed street artist leaves trail of colourful public art along Spadina

Torontonians might have noticed some colourful giant sneakers displayed along Spadina Avenue in the past few days — the urban intervention is the creation of local performance artist Lewis Mallard, who is most known for making public appearances as a mallard duck across the streets of Toronto and Hamilton.

Perhaps taking advantage of the fact that 510 streetcars are suspended until later this year for infrastructure upgrades, Mallard transformed streetcar platforms at Spadina and Harbord into giant shoes over the Canada Day weekend.

“I had a very productive canada day yesterday and I lost a shoe in the process,” Mallard joked in an Instagram post on Tuesday. “Thank you to everyone for the kind words while I was painting, and an extra special thanks to the dude who slipped me a 20 dollar bill for my services to the city. I pass through this intersection regularly and thought it could use a little love.”

Mallard — who hails from Toronto — told the CBC last year that he moved to Hamilton in 2019 to be a full-time caregiver for his dad, who had Alzheimer’s disease. He made his first public appearances as a mallard at the Supercrawl music and arts festival that same year. His father passed away a year and half later, and Mallard decided to move back to Toronto in 2023 to live with his wife. Unfortunately, his return the city is relatively short-lived.

“Have you ever gotten off the elevator on the wrong floor and accidentally walked into the wrong apartment? Or maybe you went to your neighbours house that’s a mirror image to yours. This is what moving back to Toronto after being away for 5 years felt like. The layout was exactly the same but it’s filled with different stuff,” Mallard wrote in an Instagram Post last month.

“My wife and I are about to move to Montreal. We know there are amazing opportunities waiting for us there and we can’t wait to uncover them. I’ll be keeping my eye on Toronto and Hamilton to keep up with the changes.”

To the delight of his followers, Mallard promises to do some more public art before he leaves the city.

“Montreal will be very lucky to have you. They don’t know what’s coming. Sad to see you go. Forever grateful for put little shoot and hangout,” one Instagram user wrote.  More than gushed over how much they’ll miss the street artist.

“Lewis helped my family feel at home here when we arrived in 2020 and knew no one!” one user stated.

“My daughter spots you sometimes on the streets of Toronto, on her way to work, and she always snaps a photo and sends it to us. Now it’s our turn!!!!! Can’t wait,” another stated.