A mystery based on a real life: how a Montreal woman's game pays homage to her grandmother
MONTREAL -- Escape rooms are just one of the entertainment options that have been off limits during the pandemic, but a Montrealer is bringing the puzzle solving experience to people's homes.
An envelope in a mail box delivers clues to a mystery, like the enigma of who is the arsonist behind an art gallery fire.
“There's a red carpet list full of shining celebrities and a disgruntled employee has been threatening to burn the exhibit to the ground,” explained Mailbox Missions creator Sarah Lolley. “You have to go in as a security specialist, dismantle the fire starters and catch the arsonist.”
Lolley's game is a labour of love, dedicated to a special person: her grandmother, Mona Barry, who was a Montreal artist.
“We generally haven't' recognized the work of women in the past, so this is a way of taking work that was maybe unknown to many and trying to give it a little bit more visibility,” said Lolley.
Barry graduated from Montreal's School of Fine Arts in the 1920s and worked at Ogilvy's, where she designed plates for the restaurant, among other duties. She also worked for the advertising department at Eaton's but stopped to focus on her family after getting married. But she continued to paint throughout her life.
Though the game incorporates some fiction – her grandmother never did received a letter from Pierre Elliot Trudeau, begging to buy a painting, for instance – much of it is based in her biography.
“I always remember her drawing and painting. I remember that from the time I was young enough to have memories and she painted until she essentially could no longer hold a brush,” said Lolley. “She painted scenes of Montreal, she painted very prolifically, so there are many, many people who have original works of hers. I think she would be very flattered and touched by the reception it's gotten so far.”