In the summer of 2019 my girlfriend, Crystal, and I drove across Canada to pick up a load in a cargo trailer from long term storage to bring back across Canada to our farm. For me, this had been the fourth year in a row to make this exact same trip, but for Crystal it was her first time being past Northern Ontario driving.
We slept in the empty trailer on the way West, which was an absolute luxury. We tried to pull off the side of the road so we wouldn’t have to get a campsite, but it was during the time of the nation wide man hunt for the two young fugitives from Vancouver Island so we were always just a little bit on edge when we’d find a nice place to stop. Nothing like a little danger to keep a trip exciting. I like to put little camp symbols on our oversized map so that in future years we know where a good campsite is. It’s probably not necessary because there are campsites in nearly every town, but sometimes you’re sitting there thinking to yourself: “I know the campsite was somewhere in this part of the country, but I just don’t remember the name of the little adorable town it was located in.” So there, on the map, is a little camp symbol that solves the mystery.
I think one of the more memorable things for me was when we stopped in the Fraser Canyon of BC to look down the canyon on a particularly beautiful turn in the river, and behind us we hear a few rocks tumbling down. I was worried because the truck was below those rocks, but up up up we see some goats following an ancient trail. First a big male goes to show the way, then a few females, then about 5 little kids make their way across! What a sight! Sometimes it’s easy for me to get caught up in our modern industrialized and urbanized world and feel like our wildlife is a thing of the past, that we no longer have any, and then seeing something like this makes me realize that there is still something out there untamed, wild, free, true.
At this point, we were on our way to Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island. Seeing the wild Pacific Coast one last time was pretty special for us. I remember growing up I always wanted to live in Vancouver. The wild old growth forests and the gnarly roots everywhere was to me something very special. In fact, it was in the mountains around Vancouver that I really started photographing as I hiked endlessly. For Crystal, it was her first time seeing the giant cedars and firs and the wild, rugged coastline of the open Pacific Ocean.
And just like that, it was time for us to zip back to Atlantic Canada and back to the farm.
Shawnigan Lake is where I’ve been calling home for a while now. It’s a beautiful community along the Victoria Watershed, just north of the Malahat and Victoria, on Vancouver Island, in beautiful British Columbia.
Being an outdoors man, naturally I’ve taken to wandering with my camera in hand. Every month I get a collection of wander-clickings I’ve captured, and if you follow any of my social medias, you’ve maybe seen some of these images pop up at times. You know, when the mood hits.
Ever since I was first exploring these lands with my parents on summer vacations of y’or, I have always been incredibly fascinated with these old growth forests. They are unlike any other I’ve experienced, which isn’t to say they are better, but just that they have a special place in my heart that started when I was young. The giant roots crossing single-track trials covered in cedar branches and fir needles, with oregon grape and salal flanking as I meander up and down valleys. Oh, the depths of canyons found within trunks of a thousand year old fir trees.
This is what I’ve come upon.
tech specs // Sony a7 / Super Takumar 55mm f1.8 / Jupiter 11A 135mm f4 / Super Takumar 28mm
I cross the Strait of Georgia frequently. Back and forth, back and forth. I find that when I’m heading back to Vancouver Island I catch the best kind of sunset, if it’s not raining. On the way over, it’s usually around noon when I arrive – not so fine for them golden hour captures, but that’s all right. My trips over to the mainland are, for the most part, to do some photoshoots. If I’m lucky, I get to see a few friends.
There’s this funny thing I’m observing with myself, when I have photoshoots ahead of me, I tend to leave my camera in it’s bag and let the landscapes pass by with just my eyes watching, not my lens. I guess at the moment I’m ok with this, a focus of some sorts. But the idiom keeps popping up in my head: can’t see the forest for the tree.
This trip home I had just picked up a new to me 135mm lens from Russia, probably a 50 year old fully manual lens, so I was pretty eager to sit on top of the BC Ferry and catch some landscapes.
I’ve got to say, these are some of my favourite photographs of this crossing I’ve ever captured.
Last fall my Swiss friend Nene came to Canada. I offered my truck (and company) to tour her around BC so she could get to see this beautiful land the way that I see it, and the places that I know and am fond of in this land. Canadian pride I guess. The first leg of our journey took us North! To Prince George. The second leg we hopped on the ferry over to Vancouver Island where we did day trips from Shawnigan Lake and toured mostly the southern tip of the island – Victoria and up the West Coast of the island to Port Renfrew.
Our trip to Port Renfrew, we thought we were just taking a left and heading through some gravel roads and couldn’t get lost and make it to Port Renfrew – easy peasy. About 3 hours later we found ourselves in Sooke. From Shawnigan Lake, it should only take about 1hr to get to Sooke. Likewise, it should only take about 1.5hrs to get to Port Renfrew, so obviously we took the long, windy road to get there!
Our road took us on a series of logging roads, cut blocks, and dense forest. It was interesting to see deep inside the belly of the beast (the Canadian wilderness), but to be honest, the West Coast is just so wild and epic every single time I stand upon her shores, so I was kind of sad that our day along the coast was delayed in the backroads.
But, such is life.
As we made our way up the highway parallel to the Juan de Fuca trail network, we made a vow to stop at every single Provincial Park we came to.
My brother is a nomad. He has a camper van and he likes to spend most of his time on dirt roads harvesting anything from mushrooms to blueberries. When he’s not tree planting that is.
I’m lucky enough to have him to call up when he’s off work and suggest journeys. He’s usually game without much of a fight, though sometimes I need to lure him with some kind of harvest or natural wonder.
This time we went to Ucluelet and Tofino, nestled deep within the great Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. We only actually went into Tofino once though, most of the time we’d spend in Ucluelet if we were anywhere near a city.
The day we arrived on the West side of Vancouver Island it was pouring rain, and also the final day of tourist season. That night the shorelines erupted with fireworks from the tourist hosts celebrating another season in the sun finished. We didn’t quite realize this was the case, which made finding accommodations rather interesting for us, as the campgrounds were closed. Queue camper van.
We’d spend our mornings trying to decide which beach we would go to, and spent most of our days huddling inside of driftwood barriers and huts some of the locals no doubt built as they waited for the surf to break. For my brother, this was pure bliss. Not a care in the world besides the suspense the author of his book decided to build. I, on the other hand, would find myself wandering as if conducting a science experiment.