Walter Zielke Ruesch, also known as “Zoohky,” made a name for himself in the West End of Winnipeg by being a helpful and kind individual. He was known to fix things that had been broken and thrown away, such as bicycles, stereos, and toys. Once fixed, he would donate the items to families that needed them.
In addition to assisting the people of the West End, he also took in and cared for many of the neighbourhood’s stray cats. Zoohky’s bike was an important part of his life, he was never seen without it (no matter the weather).
After Zoohky’s death, the community wanted to honour the impact he had, and in 2003 this mural was painted. Initially, the bicycle wasn’t included in the portrait, and several residents requested that Zoohky’s bike be added to more accurately reflect his character. The paper in Zoohky’s hand in the mural is an original poem that he wrote, entitled “Blue Danube.” It was published in a local newspaper and was a source of pride for Zoohky.
The building on which this mural is painted was once named after the man who stars in the piece of art on its wall. Formerly called the Zoohky Memorial Hall, it is now a church.
Know Before You Go
The Zoohky mural is one of dozens located in Winnipeg’s West End neighbourhood. It is located on the Eastern side of the building at 635 Sargent Avenue.
A helpful map of all the murals in the West End is available here: http://www.westendbiz.ca/visiting-the-west-end/murals