As we made our way up the weathered path we heard twigs crack off in the brush, making us both stop dead in our tracks and look at each other silently.  With such a warm and dry summer, bears and cougars had been reported in the area, often making their way down from the mountains towards communities where food and water can be more readily found.  There is no cell service out here, and if something were to happen who knows how long it would be before we were found.  But, the sense of adventure and the yearning to see if we could actually find the abandoned Jordan River Power Station we had heard so much about kept us moving forward.  Even the intense feeling of trepidation wasn’t enough to make us turn around.

The trees and brush are very thick through here, and as we turned a corner on the path we came across the monolithic remains of the power station, now long forgotten and unused, save for the myriad graffiti artists who come here to color the walls in large pictures often depicting personal political manifestos or mourning the loss of a fellow artist and adventurer.  The life of a graffiti artist in a derelict facility like this is a dangerous undertaking, and according to some of the notes left on the walls it would seem that sometimes it is even deadly.

Jordan River Power Station - Jordan River, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Jordan River Power Station – Jordan River, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Looming large and seemingly rising out of the land that it inhabits, the derelict remains of this once busy power station now sit empty and hollow.  Signs of natural decay are everywhere, from the wooden window frames, to holes in the floor that lead to the caverns below, to sections of the roof that have caved in over the years.  This is not a place for the faint-of-heart.

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The Boathouse

Posted: 29th September 2017 by Mrs. Toad in Photography
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Once in a very long while, you stumble into someone’s life and instantly become “old friends”.  You know, the type of friend that makes you feel that you can share just about anything.  There is an instant connection, and in minutes you know more about each other than most friends know over decades.  These moments, all too few, are precious and rare. And when they do happen, they remind us that magic really is at work all around us.  While Mr. Toad and I were out the other day in one of our favourite places to unleash the unruly little dragon that is our drone, we had the absolute pleasure of meeting our newest old friend, Doug.

The Boathouse - Genoa Bay, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

The Boathouse – Genoa Bay, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

The Boathouse - Genoa Bay, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

The Boathouse – Genoa Bay, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

One step into Doug’s awesome self-described “man-cave” reveals that he knows how to create a little magic of his own!  Once the busy owner of a thriving local business with his wife Darlene, Doug spends his days adding all things nautical and whimsical to his boathouse and happily sharing it with everyone who happens to be walking by.

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It has been awhile since last we posted on our visit to  McLean Mill National Historic Site in Port Alberni, a wonderful heritage museum that is full of treasures and exhibits from a bygone era.  This museum is an important link to Vancouver Island’s past, paying homage to the logging industry, one of the key early industries on the island during colonization that was largely responsible for the area’s growth.  For those who are interested, please feel free to check out our previous post “A Visit To McLean Mill National Historic Site” which covers the rich history of the site.

McLean Mill National Historic Site - Port Alberni, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

McLean Mill National Historic Site – Port Alberni, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Nestled deep in the forests of the central island region, this site finds old wooden structures emerging out of our thick and lush forests that surround it.  There is much beauty to be found in this distinctive mixture of industrial against a backdrop of raw nature.  The people who work here have an obvious love for the place and are all too happy to share their experiences and knowledge with everyone who visits.  This adds a great deal of interest to a visit to the museum.  You’d best prepare to spend an entire afternoon here, there are countless buildings and artifacts on display with something here for everyone to enjoy.

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We find ourselves in a period of upheaval in terms of the global economy, and with this transition comes change.  One of the changes that seems to be so prevalent these days is the many buildings we encounter that once were flourishing with activity and are now forgotten.  We tend to find an anchor in many of these buildings, with memories attached to them of times past.  As these buildings fall into disrepair and degradation, so does the fading recollection of the voices that once filled these walls.  We go through a period of grieving, almost as if we have lost a loved one.  In many cases, our memories are indeed cherished, and the loss bears no less weight for it.

This house is almost all that remains of the once thriving town of Jordan River on the west coast of Vancouver Island.  It holds many memories for me as I once knew the family who lived here and was friends with them all.  As such, each time we visit Jordan River I find myself reflecting back on moments spent here with a deep sense of melancholy.

Abandoned House - Jordan River, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Abandoned House – Jordan River, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

As you wind your way down the twisty highway that leads out of Colwood and Langford heading for the deep west coast, the landscape changes as the miles tick away under your wheels.  A burgeoning metropolis gives way to the incredible forests that call the island home, and at times you feel as if you are the only soul alive on the planet today.  Wildlife is teeming in these forests, and the ocean that sits just beyond the roadway goes on forever, only stopping once the shores of Asia and Russia emerge on the horizon.

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It has been an action-packed summer here on Vancouver Island for us as we have been working hard for our clients on many different projects.  One of the highlights for any summer is when we get to visit the Vancouver Island Motor Gathering held at the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit in the Cowichan Valley here on the island.  The venue is truly second-to-none, and the proceeds from the show go to great and worthwhile charities.  This year did not disappoint in any way, the facility was packed with spectators and exhibitors showing off some of the finest cars we’ve seen.  Many folks come from distant locations to show off their vehicles, and it sure is fun to walk around and see everything and meet locals and visitors alike.

2017 Vancouver Island Motor Gathering - Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

2017 Vancouver Island Motor Gathering – Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit – Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

2017 Vancouver Island Motor Gathering - Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

2017 Vancouver Island Motor Gathering – Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit – Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

This year we were asked by the Cowichan Valley Citizen to visit the show and capture some shots that were to be considered for the local paper.  Needless to say, we were very excited to see that one of our shots was used in the article “Motor Gathering in Cowichan raises nearly $175,000 in cash for charities“.  As you can see in the article, the event was a wonderful success, with a lot of money raised for important charities.

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We have been working hard over the last nine months to obtain our commercial drone license with Transport Canada so we can offer aerial drone photography services to our clients.  This past weekend we received our first official SFOC to fly at Genoa Bay, a tiny marina community that is hidden deep in the Cowichan Valley.  The weather was picture-perfect, so to speak, and we had a thoroughly enjoyable time piloting our drone around capturing a few photographs and a bit of video.

Genoa Bay - Aerial Drone Photography - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Genoa Bay – Aerial Drone Photography – Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Genoa Bay - Aerial Drone Photography - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Genoa Bay – Aerial Drone Photography – Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

One of the first things that strikes us while we are airborne capturing imagery is that the change in perspective is truly amazing.  From an elevated perch, even if only elevated a small amount, the world takes on an entirely different look.  Scale becomes immediately evident as the horizon tends to now reach towards infinity, and here on Vancouver Island this provides unparalleled vantages and vistas that showcase the incredible beauty of the region.

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Half Car Half Amazing

Posted: 5th July 2017 by ToadHollowPhoto in Photography
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Recently we decided to join the community of electric car owners here on Vancouver Island as I have a crazy daily commute and we were hoping to save some money on gas.  And in doing so, we were also looking forward to further reducing our carbon footprint.  This decision led to a lot of online research to try and find the best vehicle that would suit our needs.  We finally settled on a brand new 2017 Chevrolet Volt, and based on all the online reviews and the official Chevrolet website on the car we had high expectations.  We didn’t expect what we would find once we actually started driving the car.

2017 Chevrolet Volt - Electric Car - Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

2017 Chevrolet Volt – Electric Car – Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

We are now fully in love with this car.  Everywhere we go we are asked questions by the curious who are wondering what it really is like to make such a bold decision in a world where internal combustion engines (ICE based cars) are still the dominant form of transportation.  This led us to decide to create a series of blog posts as we go along with our car talking about real-world use cases we experience, and we’re going to tag this series “EVangelist“.  Make no mistake, this is now a way of life for us, and one we would love to see other people embrace as global warming looms on the horizon as a real problem for us, our children, and our grandchildren.  Only through the act of change can we make a real difference in the world.

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It sure is shaping up to be an amazing year here at Toad Hollow, with many exciting events scheduled that will feature various aspects of Vancouver Island and Canada 150 Celebrations.  Each year for the past 4 years running, one of our highlights is to join the Fort Macaulay Historic Interpretation Event being held in Esquimalt and photograph the event.  As it turns out, this has been the same weekend the Swiftsure Yacht Race has been hosted in Victoria for the past few years, and Fort Macaulay provided a great vantage point to watch the boats as they raced.  This year certainly did not disappoint with incredible weather and scenery for the event, and in today’s post we will take a look at some of the shots we captured here.  We’ll feature some of the shots from the Fort Macaulay Historic Interpretation Event in a future post, so please do stay tuned for that.

Swiftsure Weekend - Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Swiftsure Weekend – Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

We always arrive early at the event to set up and check out the various exhibits and scenes that present themselves.  For this year, 2017, the day was clearly going to be a hot one with rich blue skies and a gentle marine breeze coming in from the ocean.  From the top vantage point at Fort Macaulay we could see the group of sailboats as they headed out for the weekend’s race at the beginning of the day.  It was amazing to see the flotilla of boats as they came around the point in Victoria and headed west towards Langford and Sooke.  The day was perfect.

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Spring In The Valley

Posted: 1st May 2017 by ToadHollowPhoto in Photography
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Spring has finally sprung here on the west coast of Canada after a really long and cold winter.  I’ve lived here since 1980 and to be quite honest, this was one of the worst ones I can recall.  As with all things in life, once the snow finally disappeared and signs began to emerge that spring was around the corner, we all began to talk about how we are hoping for a nice summer this year, and how we’d appreciate it if it came early!

Red Barn - Spring In The Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Red Barn – Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

The Cowichan Valley is home to many beautiful and large farms with large tracts of land that support the livestock and harvests the region is well known for.  As soon as winter breaks, we begin to see signs of spring, and they do seem to come quickly.  This barn sits on a huge farm that is nestled in the mountains that form the Cowichan Valley, and on one warm afternoon the light came and went upon the barn as the geese and wildlife in the area took in the weather.

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Beauty In Rust

Posted: 19th April 2017 by ToadHollowPhoto in Photography
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Once again we explore the inherent beauty found in things full of rust, now forgotten and forlorn.  This is one of our loves here at Toad Hollow.  There is simply so much character and personality in these unused vehicles, and you truly have to wonder about the stories that the rusty metal holds secret within.  Today’s feature photographs were taken at different locations at different times of the year here in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island, and they both tell a distinct story in the context of a frame.

Rusty Chevrolet - Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rusty Chevrolet – Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

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