Approximately 45 to 60 kilometres off the west coast of British Columbia are 150 islands that form the archipelago of Haida Gwaii. The climate produces lush vegetation, abundant wildlife and the area is nicknamed Canada’s Galapagos. It’s the heart of the Haida nation and they’ve lived on the islands for 13,000 years. There is more than 500 archeological sites, a few containing totem poles and longhouse remains. Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve is located in the southern islands and is accessible only by boat or seaplane. I just returned from a 10 day trip in this area exploring the dramatic landscapes, moss-covered rainforest and ancient village sites with my camera. I’m now sorting through my images and looking forward to sharing them soon on my website.
One of my favourite hardcover photography books is Fred Herzog: Modern Color. The Canadian photographer was known primarily for his photos of working class people in Vancouver, British Columbia. For over 50 years he took images with Kodachrome colour slide film when most people were shooting black and white film. There are 230 photos in the book and some of my favourite images are Man with Bandage, Main Barber, Flaneur Granville and Curtains. I would really like to own a few of his prints.
This morning I was watching a pair of beavers eating the bark off of water soaked branches with their large orange incisors and preening their fur to remove dirt and straighten matted fur. The beaver is an emblem we’re reminded of every time we fish a nickel out of our pockets. The beaver nearly became extinct as a result of the fur trade, luckily Europeans took a liking to silk hats and the demand for beaver pelts disappeared. They are a keystone species in temperate and boreal forest aquatic ecosystems. Click on the image to see a larger version.
The Johnstone Strait area gets over 150 cm’s of annual rainfall. It creates a very lush and green environment. This photo was taken in the village of Alert Bay on Cormorant Island which is the home of the U’mista Cultural Centre and museum. It has an amazing collection of First Nations potlatch artifacts. Click on the image to see a larger version.
Today I spent some time exploring the Orpheum theatre with my camera. It was built from 1926 to 1927 and is a National Historic Site. At the time of construction storefront property on Granville street was expensive. Joseph Langer found a way around this by purchasing a small piece of property for the entrance and then built the theatre itself on the next street over, Seymour street, where land was more affordable.
The Orpheum Theatre was designed by the Scottish architect B. Marcus Priteca, who designed nearly two hundred theatres from San Diego to Alaska. Priteca was a master at economically creating the illusion of opulence with plasterwork on reinforced concrete.
The design contains a number of different architectural influences – the vaulted ceilings of the main concourse and foyer and the terra cotta undersides of the marquees and the travertine walls and pillars are Italian influenced, there are exotic ceiling motifs, crests of British heraldry, chandeliers of Czechoslovakian crystal, Moorish-inspired organ screens, and Baroque ceiling and dome covers.
When I walk around the Orpheum, the combination of the red carpet and the eerie light cast from the chandeliers, reminds me of Stanley Kubrick’s movie The Shining. To scroll through the gallery of images click on the first image and then use the left and right keys on your keyboard.
I was fortunate to see an exhibition of the American photographer Walker Evans at the Vancouver Art Gallery. He was a photojournalist best known for his work for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) documenting the effects of the Great Depression. Much of Evans’s work from the FSA period uses the large format, 8 x 10 inch camera. Many of his works are in the permanent collections of museums. I really enjoyed looking at some of his cameras and street photography which included photos of store signs. I would recommend seeing this exhibition which ends on January 22nd.
Vancouver Island is a great place to visit and live. Island life is more laid-back when compared to the hectic pace of the Vancouver lower mainland. I was fortunate to experience some sunny weather when I was exploring with my camera. One of the things I noticed was at night when I was sleeping it was pitch dark and eerily quiet, you couldn’t hear another sound. In the lower mainland you experience noise and light pollution 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Some of the communities on Vancouver Island seem to be struggling like many small towns in Canada. Click on the image to see a larger version.
During the Winter Olympics in Vancouver a heritage electric railway was built for tourists. There is a station platform at the end of the line which is never used anymore. The bushes or vines are slowly creeping across the concrete of the station platform. Click on the image to see a larger version.
In the Fraser Canyon is the Alexandra bridge which was built in 1926 for the Cariboo highway. The last time automobile traffic was allowed across the bridge was in 1964. The Niaka’pamux and Sto:lo First Nations have lived in the area for over 9000 years. Because the canyon becomes narrow at this point it was an important fishing site. The first European people to visit the area were Simon Fraser and his crew during their expedition down the Fraser Canyon in 1808. I had the bridge all to myself and enjoyed exploring this vanishing part of British Columbia. Click on an image to see a larger version.
As I was driving across traditional First Nations land I came across this house with a sign showing support for Gino Odjick. He was born just outside of Maniwaki, Quebec on the Algonquin Native Reserve and played for eight seasons with the Vancouver Canucks. Number 29 was a very popular hockey player with fans and in First Nations communities across Canada. Click on the image to see a larger version.