ArtWalk

The Terry Fox Miracle Mile

The Terry Fox Miracle Mile

Douglas Coupland
b.1961

The Terry Fox Miracle Mile
  • Steel, concrete and resin
  • 2009
  • One half mile circumference
  • 95 Fort York Blvd, Toronto

About the artwork

This one-mile run is a monument to Canadian athlete Terry Fox. At the age of 18, Terry lost his leg to cancer. Believing that the only thing that can provide hope to a person with cancer is research, he decided to raise money by running a “Marathon of Hope” – one marathon (26.2 miles) a day, from St. John’s, NL, to Vancouver, B.C. Between April 12 and September 1, 1980. Terry made it two-thirds of the way across Canada – 3,339 miles, close to 143 marathons in a row before his cancer returned and stopped the run. Nobody in recorded history has ever run as many consecutive marathons. Terry died within the year, on June 28, 1981. Partly because of the money he raised, and the money the Terry Fox Foundation raises annually with its run, Terry would not only be alive today were he to have the same cancer, but he would also have his leg. If there’s a miracle to Terry’s run, it is the miracle of perseverance, courage and grace in the face of unthinkable odds. Two laps of this park (marked with maple leaves), equals one mile. Please experience it as you will, and along the way, contemplate photos of items from Terry’s family’s collection and more thoughts about Terry and his 1980 run.

About the artist

Douglas Coupland grew up in Vancouver and attended the Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Since graduating in the 1980s, Coupland has made a name for himself internationally as a writer, visual artist, and graphic designer, as well as being widely recognized as “one of the most original commentators on mass culture of the late 20th and the 21st century”. Coupland has written thirteen novels that have been published in many different languages worldwide. He has written and performed for England’s Royal Shakespeare Company and is a regular columnist for The Financial Times of London. He is also a frequent contributor to The New York Times, e-flux, DIS and Vice. In 2000, Coupland amplified his visual art production and has recently had two separate museum retrospectives: Everything is Anything is Anywhere is Everywhere at the Vancouver Art Gallery, The Royal Ontario Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, and Bit Rot at Rotterdam’s Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, and Munich’s Villa Stücke. His practice employs a variety of materials and explores the corrupting and seductive dimensions of pop culture. In 2015 and 2016, Coupland was named artist-in-residence at the Paris Google Cultural Institute. In May 2018, his exhibition on ecology, Vortex, opened at the Vancouver Aquarium. Coupland boasts an impressive list of honours and awards. He is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy, an Officer of the Order of Canada, an Officer of the Order of British Columbia, a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and a recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence.

Fun facts

  • Some 20,000-25,000 dump truck loads of earth were diverted from landfills to help build the foundations of City Place Park where Coupland was commissioned to create this work and numerous others.

Engagement questions

  • What feeling or mood do you get from this artwork? What about it makes you say that?
  • What do you think the role of audiences should be in art? Does participatory functionality improve your experience?