Charlotte’s secret streets inspire outdoor paintings

The first thing Alicia Embree noticed when she moved to her street in Queen Charlotte was a neighbour’s sign that says “Deaf Cat Crossing.”

The cat of Deaf Cat Hill.

The first thing Alicia Embree noticed when she moved to her street in Queen Charlotte was a neighbour’s sign that says “Deaf Cat Crossing.”

Embree liked it so much she starting calling her stretch of 1st Avenue Deaf Cat Hill.

“Why isn’t it Deaf Dog Hill?” asked a neighbour with a big white dog who qualifies.

But the name stuck.

All over Queen Charlotte, people have pet names for their streets, partly because it’s a shoreline village with long streets interrupted by lots of hills.

Some can tell you exactly where to find Rainbow or Hippie or Forestry Hill, but not the official street name. It’s also easy for newcomers to get confused.

“So many people drive up my hill and get lost,” said Embree.

Mainly for fun, but perhaps to help people find their way, Embree and fellow painter Jaime Allen started painting the off-the-map street names onto small signs Embree and Allen previously made several hand-painted signs for local shops.

“They’re like small paintings,” said Embree, noting that they’re clearly not official.

Embree recently asked Village of Queen Charlotte council about hanging them up as a public art project, and got a welcome response.

“We just need to figure out literally the nuts and bolts of putting them up, and maybe putting a little trim on them,” she said.

Without giving too much away, Embree said the Forestry Hill sign may have lumberjacks and lumberjills, and the one for Spruce Point may have a canoe-paddling squirrel and the point’s Haida language name.

“Napa Valley,” by Napa Auto Parts, definitely deserves a sign too, said Embree, chuckling. She has also had several requests, which so far include signs for Library Lane and the West Charlotte Wastelands.