Sunday, 10 November 2019

Blog Post - 10 November 2019

 This week’s photoblog features a wide variety of images from Belleville, Trenton, Wellington, Adolphustown, and Kingston. There’s no thematic arc connecting them, at least not one that I can find. (Please let me know if you find one, dear reader!) The photos do, however, highlight the visual quirkiness of the place I call home. I hope you enjoy the photos and my accompanying thoughts.

Belleville: I’m not the first photographer is say that some of our best images come from happy accidents. Such is the case with this photo. I was walking through Belleville’s Victoria Park, near the parallel highway and railway bridges. This photo shows an eastbound Canadian Pacific Railway freight train in front of an eastbound transport trailer on the highway bridge. I love how the girl is peeking through the freight cars. If I had tried to plan that photo, I likely would have failed. But when the image presents itself...well, you just seize the moment. It’s not so much luck as it is an opportunity. To paraphrase Pierre Trudeau, there’s no such thing as luck – just the intersection of opportunity and preparation.

Belleville: There are actually two bridges in this photo – the rusty one at the front is the Canadian Pacific Railway bridge across the Moira River. Hiding behind it is the Dundas Street West/Highway 2 bridge. I was having a pleasant wander through nearby Victoria Park when I spotted these two school buses crossing the highway bridge but looking like they were on the railway bridge. Moral: always check out the context of a photo before assuming you know what you’re looking at! Looming behind the buses and the bridges is the ungainly Quinte Consolidated Court House. Why do so many contemporary public buildings have to be mind-numbingly ugly?

Belleville: Another view from Victoria Park. I like the juxtaposition of the “Johnnys on the Spot” on the right with the gentleman who has clearly found his spot in the glorious sunlight in the middle. The litter container on the left adds to the lines and textures of this photo.

Trenton/Quinte West: Roy Bonisteel’s hand, detail of a sculpture of the late Mr. Bonisteel by Brett Davis. The sculpture literally sits in Trenton's Bayshore Park and is a tribute to one of the city's best-loved citizens. Similar to many other Canadians of my vintage, I have fond memories of Mr. Bonisteel and his long-running CBC Television program Man Alive, a program that focused on faith and spirituality. Roy Bonisteel helped me appreciate that we are all spiritual beings, each on our own journey. I hope this photo honours his memory.

Wellington: I have such respect for clowns, especially those that serve their community with grace, kindness, and humour. For a number of years, I was a therapeutic clown in Toronto, with a particular interest in working with hospitalized children. My clown’s name was ‘Dougie’, named after my loving father, Douglas Tayler. When I saw this clown in Wellington Park during the recent Pumpkinfest, my heart melted. It was clear that he loved what he was doing, but there was also a sadness about him – pure interpretation on my part, of course. Bless the very special people who transform the lives of others by being so vulnerable. 

Wellington: What would be more appropriate than a shiny orange Subaru driven by someone wearing an orange jacket on Wellington’s Main Street during Pumpkinfest? I love the vivid colours and lines in this photo.

Adolphustown: Mailboxes adjacent to the Glenora Ferry docks on the way to Picton. Such wonderful whimsy! What’s missing from the photo is the mailbox labelled “Air Mail” high up on an adjacent hydro pole. There’s a song that says “What the world needs now is love, sweet love.” Well, I’m convinced that the world also needs a lot of whimsy!

Near Picton: Such a study in grey! This is the Lehigh Hanson Cement Plant. I photographed it on a wonderfully blustery autumn day from the Glenora Ferry docks at Adolphustown. Beautiful, it is not. But impressive, it certainly is!

Prince Edward County in all its autumn splendour. From the Glenora Ferry docks at Adolphustown.

Belleville: Such a sad image. This is a once-vibrant  mural on the south wall of the much-neglected Intelligencer building in downtown Belleville. The newspaper’s distant corporate owners abandoned the building years ago. It sits empty – and unloved. Personally, I think it should be demolished and replaced by a municipal park to add grace and beauty to Belleville’s downtown. The mural features a reproduction of the Intelligencer’s front page the day the last Canadian National Railway train ran down adjacent Pinnacle Street, June 22, 1964.

Kingston: A study in lines and shapes! I found this hydro worker at the west end of Kingston on Highway 2. The dynamic contrasts and textures keep me intrigued. One of the joys of photography is happening upon such visually engaging scenes. 

 Kingston: You’ve got to love a motel that offers a bridal suit! A delightful sign on Kingston’s Princess Street/Highway 2. Make your reservations now! All kidding aside, I’ll bet the walls of that motel could tell many, many stories!

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Blog Post - 3 November 2019

 As I mentioned last week, I’m making changes to my blog. Regular readers who had become accustomed to the previous design will immediately notice the difference. Instead of an interior photograph of our old washing machine...

...the new design features a photograph selected from the collection I’m featuring that week. The background colour is now black, to better showcase the photographs. There will often be more photographs than before, and they'll be larger for easier viewing. The theory is – and please correct me if I’m wrong – that these changes are compatible with desktop computers, laptop computers, tablets, and smart phones. 

There will be fewer essays and more comments about individual photos. Sometimes there will be a theme, but not always. I intend to push both myself and my photography more. The new blog format will undoubtedly morph in the weeks ahead, which is good – as long as it doesn’t get stale. Your feedback, as always, is appreciated.

This week’s photographs come from a recent visit to Toronto. Regular readers already know that I am a huge fan of Toronto. I have loved the city since I was a kid and have vivid memories of the thirty years I spent living, working, and thriving there. 

I hope you enjoy the photos.

I have no idea what is going on here. I recorded it in Nathan Phillips Square. It was part of an installation for this year’s Nuit Blanche. Nothing indicated who the artist is.

The secret life of Queen’s Park? Glimpsed outside the Whitney Block, Queen’s Park Crescent East. Love the colour contrasts and lines.

On the patio near the entrance to the Gardiner Museum, east side of Queen's Park, south of Bloor Street West. The water drops are so clearly defined.

Two beautiful Muskoka chairs outside a coffee shop on St. Clair Avenue West near Deer Park Crescent

 “Toronto Man” by Stephan Balkenhol, outside a condo project on St. Clair Avenue West near Avenue Road. I love the cheekiness of this sculpture – it was at least four meters tall. Apparently, not all the neighbours are happy with it.

Once again, I have no idea what’s going on here. It’s a series of children’s inflatable water toys, attached to the wall of a Shoppers Drug Mart on Yonge Street, north of St. Clair. I love the gentle energy of the dapper gentleman walking in front of them.

 The precise choreography of a professional window washer on the east side of Yonge Street, just north of Eglinton Avenue.

Stacked outdoor chairs at Harbourfront Centre. The hand adds a dose of humanity - or perhaps creepiness - to the image.

I call this “Creepy Spy Guy” on the boardwalk in front of Harbourfront Centre. Pure interpretation on my part, of course. For all I know, he could earn his living singing lullabies. But he WAS staring intently at everyone walking by.

I was told this is a delegation of Chinese business people visiting Toronto. They’re walking along the Harbourfront boardwalk. And, yes, creepy spy guy was staring at them. Or singing them lullabies...

 Such a beautiful couple! They were so affectionate with each other – and totally oblivious to everything going on around them. Near the pond in front of Harbourfront Centre.

A cascade of condos. Harbourfront/Queen’s Quay West.

Best sweat shirt ever. Sitting on a bench by the Harbourfront boardwalk.

In search of the perfect selfie. Love the colours.

Such a face! I love its contours and hard-earned lines. Location: Harbourfront near Queen’s Quay Terminal at the foot of York Street.

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Northwestern Ontario!

“Rocks and trees! Rocks and trees! 
I’m so f***ing tired of rocks and trees!”
- Teenage Chris Stearman reacting to driving
through Northwestern Ontario

I love husband Bill’s story about his son’s response to driving through Northwestern Ontario. You hear similar stories from people who ride the legendary “Canadian” VIA passenger train from Toronto to Vancouver: “We left Toronto two days ago – and we’re STILL in Ontario???”

The province of Ontario is indeed vast. At 1 million square kilometers, it’s larger than Texas. And the Northwestern part of the province is certainly filled with all those rocks and trees! The drive along the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 17) from Sudbury to the Manitoba border takes you through some of the most spectacular scenery in the country, especially along the north shore of Lake Superior. Every Canadian should make this drive at least once. But mixed in with the awesome scenery are many, MANY kilometers and trees. It’s not the kind of drive you undertake in a winter blizzard...which I did once, but that’s another story.

At the end of September, Bill and I drove the 2,236 km from Belleville to Winnipeg so Bill could make presentations and teach quilting classes at Winnipeg’s Keystone Modern Creative (link), a wonderful textile company in suburban Winnipeg. Of those 2,236 km, 2,094 km were within Ontario. And of those 2,094 km, 1,542 km were in Northern/Northwestern Ontario. 

Think Sudbury! Espanola! Spanish! Elliot Lake! Blind River! Iron Bridge! Thessalon! Sault Ste. Marie! Bachawana Bay! Michipicoten! Wawa! White River! Marathon! Terrace Bay! Nipigon! Huckett! Ouimet! Thunder Bay! Kakabeka Falls! Kaministiquia! Shabaqua! Raith! Upsula! English River! Ignace! Borups Corners! Dinorwic! Wabigoon! Dryden! Oxdrift! Vermilion Bay! Hawk Lake! Kenora! Whitehsell! We took two days to drive out and a more relaxed three days to drive home.

For me, it was revisiting three years of my past.  As I wrote in an earlier post, I taught in Dryden – four hours west of Thunder Bay; four hours east of Winnipeg – for three years after I returned from teaching in Australia in the 1970s. Prior to teaching in Dryden, I had never been in Northwestern Ontario. It wasn’t my first pick of a place to teach, but I needed a job. So off I went on another adventure! 

In retrospect, I’m glad I had my three years in Dryden – I made good friends, taught amazing kids, and quickly learned winter survival skills:

• snowshoeing;
• drinking;
• plugging in my car’s block heater;
• dealing with morning ice fogs;
• buying a Hudson’s Bay Company coat;
• joining the local theatre group;
• checking weather forecasts obsessively; and
• escaping to Winnipeg about once a month. 

One of my favourite stories about living in Dryden concerned the annual Santa Claus parade – a very big deal in town. A teacher friend and I organized a student clown troupe that participated in the parade. Great fun! However, because of the town’s isolation, the parade organizers couldn’t afford to hire a marching band. Solution? Everyone was encouraged to park their cars along the parade route, roll down their windows, and tune in the local radio station (“CKDR – Voice of the Great Northwest!”), which played Christmas music for the duration of the parade. The effect was magical – and a tribute to the resilient spirit of the people who call Northwestern Ontario home.

It was a time, as they say. 

I hope the accompanying photos give you a sense of this part of Ontario. Enjoy!

And a side note: I am making changes to “Making Eye Statements”. When I started the blog in April, 2016, I intended it to be a showcase for my photography. Over the three and a half years since then, the blog has morphed from being a photography blog that included writing to being a writing blog that included photos. At the beginning, the photos drove the writing; now, the writing often drives the photos. (And I thank husband Bill for that insight.) Typically, it takes at least four hours to write one of these mini essays. I love writing....but I’d rather spend the time working on photography. The upshot is that I will be featuring more photos and less writing. The blog name and URL address remain the same, but the design and content of the blog will change. I hope you understand. Feedback, as always, is welcome. And thank you for being part of the 650-odd people who visit this blog each month.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Winnipeg, Part Two: Canadian Museum for Human Rights

Winnipeg, Part Two – 
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights

“Everyone on Earth should visit this museum...”
- online review of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights,
September 28, 2019

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) (link) is both humbling and inspirational. It is Winnipeg’s gift to humanity.

Located at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers in central Winnipeg – aka, The Forks – this impressive museum combines breathtaking architecture with immersive, challenging exhibits. It was opened in 2014, a tribute to Izzy Asper, the man who championed the idea of creating a Winnipeg museum dedicated to human rights. Alas, Asper – a respected Winnipeg politician, lawyer, philanthropist, and media mogul – never lived to see the completion of his dream.

The architects of the building are Antoine Predock and Chris Beccone, both based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Their proposal for the CMHR won an international design competition in 2003. You can see it on the back of the new Canadian ten dollar bill that is dedicated to the human rights champion Viola Desmond.

The purpose of the CMHR is, in the words of its mission statement, “to explore the subject of human rights with a special but not exclusive reference to Canada, to enhance the public’s understanding of human rights, to promote respect for others and to encourage reflection and dialogue.”

Its exhibits explore the ongoing nightmare of antisemitism and the Holocaust; the 1930s Ukrainian Holodomor; the 1994 genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda; and the continuing plight of the Rohingya in Myanmar. 

It also covers Canadian topics such as anti-black racism in Canada (with a focus on the experience of Viola Desmond in Nova Scotia); the rights of working people in Canada (with a focus of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike); the rights of women in Canada (with a focus on the right to vote and the famous 1929 ‘Persons’ case); and the rights of LGBTQ2 people in Canada (with a focus on equal marriage). 

For me, the museum’s most moving section was its exploration of the shameful treatment of Indigenous and First Nations people in Canada. Its focus on the horrors of state-sponsored/church-operated residential schools and murdered/missing Indigenous women was deeply troubling. Unlike the Conservative Party of Canada, the CMHR does not shy away from accurately describing this treatment as genocide.  

The museum also features opportunities for personal reflections on what we can each do to further human rights in Canada and the wider world.

When you go to this museum, please do not make the mistake that I made – I could only spend a morning there, but the CMHR deserves at least a full day. The next time I visit, I intend to schedule more time at the museum.

The museum is fully accessible and offers an excellent restaurant. I found the staff and volunteers to be friendly, informed, and non-intrusive.

I hope the photos that follow give you a flavour of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and its surrounding area in The Forks. Next week, I plan to write about the experience of driving through Northern/Northwestern Ontario with Bill on our way to/from Winnipeg.

As always, thank you for reading my blog.

Exterior Detail.

Statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the entrance 
to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
Created by the renowned Indian sculptor, 
Ram Vanji Sutor.

Main Exhibit Hall.

"From Sorrow to Strength - 
Indigenous Women and the Right to Safety and Justice."

Not part of an exhibit, 
but moving nonetheless.

The interior ramps (detail).

Early evening view.

Nearby bridge detail.

Park adjacent to the CMHR.

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Winnipeg, Part One - The Quirkiness of The Peg

“Being Canadian and from Winnipeg, 
I have the spirit of a dreamer...”
- Sarah Carter, Actor

In the mid-1970s, I taught in Dryden, Ontario, in the heart of Northwestern Ontario. I had just returned from teaching in Australia, so you can imagine the shock of moving from + 40℃ to – 40℃. The reality of just how far away Dryden was from my parents’ home in Southeastern Ontario only struck me when I realized that the scale of the official Government of Ontario road map of Southern Ontario was much larger than the scale of Northern Ontario on the reverse side. What looked like a two-hour drive in Southern Ontario turned out to be a four-hour drive in Northern Ontario. I had lived most of my life in Ontario, but I didn’t realize just how huge this province is.

So there I was in Dryden – four hours west of Thunder Bay and four east of Winnipeg. To say that I felt isolated after the urban intensity of Sydney is an understatement. And yet, in retrospect, I appreciate those three years in Dryden, a topic to which I will return later this month. But this week, I want to focus on Winnipeg – The Peg – capital of Manitoba – home of the Winnipeg Jets hockey team – geographic centre of Canada. And a mighty quirky place it is!

You see, during my years in Dryden, Winnipeg meant sanity and survival for me, especially during the long – V-E-R-Y long – Dryden winters. When I first arrived, I was told that people in Dryden did one of three things to cope: they drank, they screwed around, or they joined every civic organization in town. My experience is that many did all three. My primary way of coping was escaping to Winnipeg whenever I could. (Escaping to Thunder Bay did not appeal.)

In my three years of living in the ‘Great Northwest’, I grew very fond of Winnipeg. Its theatres, concerts, art galleries, museums, and restaurants became a vital element of my thriving strategy. Ironically, by escaping to Winnipeg once a month, I was able to appreciate the many gifts that Dryden had to offer. A double blessing.

Until late last month, I had not been back in Winnipeg since I’d left Dryden in 1975. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve flown OVER Winnipeg, so when my quilt-making husband Bill was engaged to teach at Keystone Quilts in Winnipeg, I jumped at the chance to accompany him. While Bill taught, I happily wandered Winnipeg with my camera and my enthusiasms. I hope these photos serve as my official thank-you gift to this wonderful city. 

Thank you, Winnipeg! And thank you, Leslie Gislason, the owner of Keystone Quilts. I look forward to seeing both Leslie and Winnipeg again in 2021...if not sooner!

Next week, I plan to write about Winnipeg’s fabulous Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the only Canadian federal museum located outside of the National Capital Region in Ottawa/Hull. Meanwhile, enjoy these photos – and I hope you have a gratitude-filled Thanksgiving.

Park Alleys Bowling, Osborne Street

Gay Louis Apartments, Osborne Street

Gnome Gathering, Osborne Street

Our Lady of Victory Cemetery, Osborne Street

Q: Where's Waldo? 
A: Painted on a concrete wall on Osborne Street

Natural is good...

Pizza Guy, Rosedale Avenue

White Pine Bicycle Company, 
Johnston Terminal Building at "The Forks"

Closing Time at a Bar in the 
Johnston Terminal Building at "The Forks"

Grounds of the Manitoba Legislature.
I have no idea...