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Sheridan Curiosities Blog

S in the Woods

Home to many of its art and design programs, the hallways of Sheridan’s Trafalgar Campus are lined with murals, photography, and ceramics. While it’s not surprising that a new piece of art appeared on campus in September 2015, its location, and what inspired it, is proof that the Sheridan slogan “get creative” resonates beyond the walls of the classroom.

If you venture through the tree-lined pathway at the south end of campus, about halfway along the trail, you’ll see atop a tall tree stump a 3-D, stylized letter “S” made of wood. The symbol, which has become synonymous with Sheridan’s creative identity since the college’s rebranding in 2013, is approximately two square feet with a chestnut-coloured veneer. It’s caught the attention of students and employees on social media in recent months, but for the most part remains a mystery as to who is responsible for the “S in the woods.”

Michael Burjaw standing next to the S in the woods

Michael Burjaw standing next to the “S” in the woods at Trafalgar Campus

It’s not a student’s capstone project nor a clever marketing ploy, but the idea of an individual whose work helps make Sheridan a safe place for our community: Michael Burjaw, Sheridan’s Director of Security and Emergency Planning. The President’s Creative Challenge in 2014 to “Get Your ‘S’ Together” sparked the idea for the project and it came to life as Sheridan and the Town of Oakville worked together to better secure the wooded area near campus.

Over the past couple of years, more lighting, cameras, signs and an emergency call station were installed, all-terrain vehicles and bicycles were procured for easier patrol, and low-lying brush and dead trees were cleared to improve visibility. These efforts, Burjaw explains, were all part of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED), an urban design strategy to deter criminal activity. In addition, Sheridan’s commitment to the Safe Walk program was renewed, which allows individuals to be escorted to and from various locations on campus.

Going beyond these reinforcements and in an effort to add a welcoming and familiar sight for students and employees commuting along the path, the “S” found its home in the trunk of a dead Red Oak tree. The tree is situated next to the pathway and is in a particular spot where the canopy lets sunlight through on clear days. Originally slated to be cut down, Burjaw requested that 20 feet of trunk remain so that a wood-carving specialist from Orangeville, Jim Menken, could begin working on the commissioned piece. After some initial challenges with the rotting trunk and rainy weather, the S was complete.

“It’s a beautiful piece and I think it sends the message to anyone traveling through that this is an ‘owned’ space that’s actively monitored for the safety of our community” – Michael Burjaw

“It’s a beautiful piece and I think it sends the message to anyone traveling through that this is an ‘owned’ space that’s actively monitored for the safety of our community,” says Burjaw. “I regularly see people admiring it and taking photos, so I think it serves its purpose.”

To see the S in the woods, check out the Google Earth map below. “S” marks the spot:

Map of where to find the S in the woods


Pictured at top of page: Sheridan “S” in the woods. Photo by Tanya Balian, Digital Content Strategist, Sheridan’s Faculty of Continuing and Professional Studies

Written by: Keiko Kataoka, Digital Communications Officer at Sheridan.

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