We love our history on Vancouver Island and on the West Coast of Canada, and we particularly love our history in the context of our wonderful and unique architecture.  We were absolutely delighted to meet Magdalena and Stefan Opalski more than a year ago, and learn of their plans to fully restore Wentworth Villa, one of Victoria’s most prized heritage homes, and then turn it into a museum that celebrates these homes here and in the Pacific Northwest.  As time went on, we visited as much as we could during the work phase, slowly watching their dream turn into reality as one of the city’s most important heritage landmarks found new life.

Wentworth Villa Architectural Heritage Museum - Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Wentworth Villa Architectural Heritage Museum – Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Wentworth Villa is located in the very heart of Victoria city, being one of only a handful of original homes that were designed and created during the early years of settlement in the greater Victoria area.  Designed and built in 1863 this wonderful home features a wide variety of lovely architectural details and features, making it much more than just a house.

Over the course of several years, a team of leading restoration and heritage experts joined the Opalski’s and went through the incredible task of restoring the home to precise and exacting standards.  These efforts paid off as the restoration was completed in the spring of 2016, and an invite-only Open House was hosted to laud the work with a VIP guest list and the unveiling of the first exhibit.  Visit the History – Wentworth Villa page to learn more.

We were honored to be invited to the Open House where The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, the 26th Governor General of Canada (1999-2005), and Lisa Helps, the current mayor of Victoria, were both in attendance to celebrate.  It was really amazing to see the incredible turnout, and to be actively involved in this truly exciting project.

It is also highly noteworthy to mention that the house and its subsequent restoration resulted in Wentworth Villa receiving the 2016 Winner of Outstanding Achievement Award for Heritage Conservation from the Heritage BC 35th Anniversary Awards.  This is a highly prestigious award that speaks to the impeccable level of work done on the restoration.

Biggerstaff-Wilson House - designed by Samuel Maclure - Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Biggerstaff-Wilson House – designed by Samuel Maclure – Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Biggerstaff-Wilson House - designed by Samuel Maclure - Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Biggerstaff-Wilson House – designed by Samuel Maclure – Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Biggerstaff-Wilson House - designed by Samuel Maclure - Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Biggerstaff-Wilson House – designed by Samuel Maclure – Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Biggerstaff-Wilson House - designed by Samuel Maclure - Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Biggerstaff-Wilson House – designed by Samuel Maclure – Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Biggerstaff-Wilson House - designed by Samuel Maclure - Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Biggerstaff-Wilson House – designed by Samuel Maclure – Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Biggerstaff-Wilson House - designed by Samuel Maclure - Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Biggerstaff-Wilson House – designed by Samuel Maclure – Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

The first home exhibited in the Wentworth Villa Architectural Heritage Museum is the Biggerstaff-Wilson home, designed by famous architect Samuel Maclure.  Mr. Maclure is well-known for his many designs that exhibit his architectural style, including Hatley Castle, a place we’ve visited and photographed often over the years.  Originally designed and built in 1905 it was appointed heritage status in 1982, and today this privately owned residence is a beautiful example of a Tudor Revival style house that is symbolic of the early architecture of the region.  It casts a dramatic and beautiful presence in the area it inhabits in the city of Victoria, surrounded by other classic and historic designs that give the entire district a distinct feel that expresses the character of our Victorian city.

Biggerstaff-Wilson House Model - Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Biggerstaff-Wilson House Model – Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

In the fall of 2015 we were invited to photograph the model you see here, an exquisite scale-model representation of the home pictured above.  Countless hours were tirelessly spent over the course of well over a year as this model was carefully designed and constructed, with the intention of it being the centerpiece for the first exhibit within the museum at its opening.  We spent over 4 hours one afternoon carefully photographing the model and were honored to have our work featured on one of the posters on display at the Open House this spring.

Biggerstaff-Wilson House Model Poster - Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada - poster design MO

Biggerstaff-Wilson House Model Poster – Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada – poster design MO

This is where the first chapter in the story of the Wentworth Villa Architectural Heritage Museum ends and the second chapter begins.

Wentworth Villa Architectural Heritage Museum - Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Wentworth Villa Architectural Heritage Museum – Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

With the restoration of Wentworth Villa now complete and it’s Opening Day behind us, we look forward to the wonderful exhibits and events this stately facility will host.  The Grand Hall in the venue is a perfect location for exhibits, lectures and intimate concerts, and the first such event is the Sara Davis Buechner Recital being hosted on May 15th at 2:30PM.

Sara Davis Buechner Recital

Sara Davis Buechner Recital

Please feel free to see Sara Davis Buechner’s biography, as well as the official program for this exciting inaugural event.

Now that the museum is officially open, it’s important for the community to show support by attending the various events being hosted here.  It’s only through the efforts of fundraising that our community will enjoy the benefits of having such a unique and wonderful museum in the area, dedicated to preserving and featuring the architecture that helps make the city of Victoria what it is today by reaching through to its past.  And through these efforts we will see the museum flourish, adding new exhibits and models as time goes on, making this a very special place indeed.  One that we plan on revisiting often as we continue to work with the entire group at the Wentworth Villa Architectural Heritage Museum in helping to promote it and the important exhibits and events it will feature.

REFERENCES, LINKS AND ARTICLES

Wentworth Villa Architectural Heritage Museum
Wentworth Villa Architectural Heritage Museum – How To Donate
Wentworth Villa Architectural Heritage Museum – Sara Davis Buechner Recital
Times-Colonist – Restoring Victoria home a true labour of love
Times-Colonist – Wentworth Villa’s first residents built a Victoria landmark
The Victoria Heritage Foundation
The Victoria Heritage Foundation – Biggerstaff-Wilson House 1770 Rockland Ave.
Canada’s Historic Places – Wentworth Villa

Romance comes in many shapes and forms.  Sometimes it is a concept, sometimes it’s an emotion.  The one constant is it is always centered around how it makes your heart feel.  Romance can be spurred on by people, and it can be created by places.  In today’s article we are going to take you to a very, very special place located at the north end of Vancouver Island called Telegraph Cove, one of the most romantic places we have ever visited in our lives.

Telegraph Cove - Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Telegraph Cove – Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Telegraph Cove was established in 1911, starting as a one room telegraph station servicing this particular region of the west coast of Canada.  Today it is one of the last remaining boardwalk communities, located at the end of a quiet road that would be so easy to miss if you weren’t looking for it.  Our article today is a feature from our trip to the northern part of Vancouver Island in the fall of 2015.  Previous articles from this area are featured in our “North Island Toads” catalog, if you are interested in seeing more from this wonderful area.  To read about the interesting history of this community, please visit the official Telegraph Cove History site for details.

Telegraph Cove - Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Telegraph Cove – Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Telegraph Cove - Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Telegraph Cove – Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

At some point on my online travels, I encountered a set of photographs that were captured on the shores of Telegraph Cove.  This completely peaked my interest, and I found myself quickly down a proverbial rabbit hole, finding everything I could online about this community and soaking it up like a man lost in the desert for months who has just discovered a private oasis.  We were amazed to learn that during the off-season, the communities population is noted to be around 20 people.  During the height of the nice weather, over 120,000 people are known to flock here looking for beautiful landscapes and epic adventures.

Telegraph Cove - Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Telegraph Cove – Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Early on in its life, Telegraph Cove was host to an avid fishing industry, and had an active sawmill working here.  As the local and global economies changed, so did the community, transforming itself into one of the last boardwalk communities and becoming an absolutely incredible destination for those looking for something a little different.  Today, the old buildings are now restaurants and little shops that share the flair and personality of Vancouver Island and the west coast of Canada.

Telegraph Cove - Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Telegraph Cove – Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

A photographers dream awaits those who like to shoot interesting places.  The boardwalks may only take a few minutes to traverse from end-to-end, but we absolutely guarantee you that you will be stopping every few feet to enjoy some of the historic and fascinating artifacts and details that create the fabric of the community.

Telegraph Cove - Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Telegraph Cove – Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

At one end of the boardwalk we find this historic building, today home to an incredible museum that features exhibits of local seafaring creatures, sure to captivate the imagination of all who visit.  World famous Stubbs Island Whale Watching takes you out on the waters where some of the world’s best whale-watching activities are to be found.  This is only the beginning of what is found at Telegraph Cove.

In the beginning of June, 2016, Mrs. Toad and I are heading back up for a few days of vacation.  This is much more than just a normal vacation to us, we are also going to be celebrating my 50th birthday by doing something that I have wanted to do all my life…  that is to see Grizzly Bears in the wild.  One of the wonderful service companies located at Telegraph Cove is called Tiderip Grizzly Bear Tours who takes the avid adventurer out on an all-day tour of Knight Inlet where one of the most important Grizzly Bear populations calls home.  We expect to get within easy reach of these incredible bears in the wild with our camera, and are hoping to come home with some pictures that you simply have to see to believe.  These amazing creatures are kings of the forest and wilderness out here on the west coast, yet I am drawn to them on a profound and personal level as I see them as some of the most beautiful creatures inhabiting our earth.  I have had to promise the lovely Mrs. Toad that I wouldn’t sneak a tiny, furry, cute Grizzly Bear cub in my pocket and bring it home…  we shall see how that promise plays out in reality in the coming weeks.  Self-control is not one of my strongest traits.

As the time nears for our trip, our hearts skip with excitement in anticipation of what we will discover on our tour.  To many this may be considered a flight of fancy, but to us it is a trip of a lifetime.

Over the next several weeks we will be adding more stories to our “Telegraph Cove” series of articles, along with new photographs in our online “Telegraph Cove” gallery, so please be sure to check back here regularly.

As always, we love to hear from all our visitors, so please do feel free to leave us any comments you may have below.  Thank you for visiting us here at The Hollow today!!

REFERENCES

Telegraph Cove on Wikipedia
Telegraph Cove Resort
Official Telegraph Cove Website
Telegraph Cove on HelloBC
Tiderip Grizzly Bear Adventures

Blown Away

Posted: 8th April 2016 by ToadHollowPhoto in Photography, The Toads At The Sportsplex
Tags: , , , , , , ,

A garage door slowly opens as the first birds of spring sing in the trees and the buds begin to burst with the signs of good weather.  The silence is abruptly broken by the sound of a small block V8 firing to life.  The birds scatter and everyone in earshot strains to see where the cacophony came from.  Slowly, one of the most amazing hot rods on Vancouver Island emerges from its lair as it creeps out onto the street on its maiden voyage for this season, leaving no doubt as to who the king is on the street today.

Supercharged Hot Rod - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Supercharged Hot Rod – Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Supercharged Hot Rod - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Supercharged Hot Rod – Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Supercharged Hot Rod - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Supercharged Hot Rod – Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Supercharged Hot Rod - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Supercharged Hot Rod – Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

As Mrs. Toad and I were working in our yard recently, I could hear the supercharged whine of this gorgeous beast in the distance.  Anyone who knows me well will know how fast I ran to my gate in anticipation of what was surely going to pass by shortly.  It took longer than I thought, the sound from this incredible creation carries in the Cowichan Valley for quite some distance.  As it drove by, a crooked smile crossed my face.  I said to Mrs. Toad, “I’ve shot that car, twice, at two different car shows over two different years.  I love how it’s changed over time.”

She, of course, knows this story well as she was standing right by me as I photographed this gem.

With the car show season now just around the corner, we’ve been pouring over the schedules online trying to plan for them as best as we can.  This is one of my favorite times of year, a time when we get to explore the beautiful outdoors on Vancouver Island and check out some of the finest rides on the road today.  It’s also a time when we make new friends and connections.  People like us who love hot rods tend to be a very friendly sort who love to talk about, well, cars.  And it’s highly infectious.

Supercharged Hot Rod - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Supercharged Hot Rod – Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Supercharged Hot Rod - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Supercharged Hot Rod – Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Supercharged Hot Rod - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Supercharged Hot Rod – Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

I am a certifiable car nut, and I make no apologies for it.  Having grown up in the 70’s and 80’s when classic muscle cars roamed the streets, and having built and owned a few myself, it’s hardly a surprise to find this insanity lurking in my very DNA.  I honestly don’t know whether to call it a curse or a blessing, but I recognize cars; sometimes from great distances with only a glance or a whisper of the dulcet sounds they emanate.  It was with an absolute howl of delight that I encountered this car in 2 separate years of visiting the local car show in the Cowichan Valley, and I was absolutely blown away to see the dramatic changes that had occurred to her over the course of a single year.

Supercharged Hot Rod - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Supercharged Hot Rod – Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Supercharged Hot Rod - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Supercharged Hot Rod – Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Supercharged Hot Rod - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Supercharged Hot Rod – Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

The flat black paint that adorned this wicked hot rod had given way to a vibrant orange.  The air intake had changed.  Some finer details had been changed or added.  But, beyond that, this was unmistakably the same car.  Only very different.  And I simply love it.

Mrs. Toad will tell you any day of the week with a wry grin that if my head whips around when we are out and about on our adventures, it’s always because some wicked nasty hot rod is in the area.  Sometimes they are well out of sight, but my radar never fails…  they are near.  And with these thoughts, we look forward to the 2016 car show season and to see what new creations are roaming the streets on the loose, as well as to see the ones we’ve seen before.  Adventures and experiences can be found anywhere you are open to them, and it is these very experiences that can help make life such a delight.

Thanks for taking the time to visit us at The Hollow here today.  As always, we love to hear from all our visitors, so please feel free to leave us any comments you may have below.

Life up here on the north end of Vancouver Island runs at its own pace and under its own terms.  Just a few kilometers off the shores of Port McNeill, a quick ferry ride takes you to a place where life slows down and the epic beauty of the west coast of Canada takes on a whole new meaning.  A place full of history, surrounded by the mercury waters of the Pacific Ocean, and dotted with tiny islands full of lush forests that form the greenest carpets you’ve ever seen.  Alert Bay on Cormorant Island is a truly special place, and one that you simply have to see in person to fully appreciate.  Join us today as we take you on a tour of this magical place.

Mercury Waters - Alert Bay - Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada

Mercury Waters – Alert Bay – Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada

Looking out from the shores of Alert Bay, a whole new world emerges.  We are pretty much at the northern tip of Vancouver Island here, and due to the extreme remote nature of the community the island is home to people who chose to live here.  And for obvious reasons, we might add.  The scenery is absolutely breathtaking.

Alert Bay - Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada

Alert Bay – Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada

The homes and businesses that reside here all have ocean views, with a main road that creates a promenade right through town.  Amenities may not be abundant, but the avid traveler will find everything they need to enjoy a stay here, including restaurants and lodging.

Alert Bay - Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada

Alert Bay – Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada

As the ferry from Port McNeill docks, the quaint marina in the town comes into sharp relief.  Fishing boats and recreational vessels are moored here, with their masts reaching for the heavens, creating a landscape view that is so distinctly west coast.

Alert Bay - Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada

Alert Bay – Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada

Alert Bay - Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada

Alert Bay – Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada

Just down the main street we find the old cannery.  Full of texture and detail, this facility kept us and our camera amused for quite some time.  The entire area was founded and built to support an active fishing economy, and this cannery in the early days was a vibrant facility that provided a living to many of the locals.  Today it stands sentry, as a weathered reminder to the past that created the future.

Alert Bay - Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada

Alert Bay – Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada

The unusual becomes the usual here, just up the street from the cannery we find a row of old double-decker buses parked.  They add a wonderful dash of color and intrigue, leaving us all wondering about the story behind their unconventional choice of a parking spot.

Alert Bay - Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada

Alert Bay – Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada

As we made our way through town, we met local residents who were all too happy to share their experiences and stories with us.  This added a terrific ingredient to our experience, giving us some real insight into the area.  This building we were told was the original nurse’s residence, which later became the local hospital.  A new hospital facility was created near the U’mista Cultural Society which hosts a museum at the other end of town, replacing the original building.  If you do make it to Alert Bay, we simply cannot recommend highly enough that you leave plenty of time to visit the museum.  We came away with a much deeper understanding and appreciation of the region from our visit, and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Namgis Burial Grounds - Alert Bay - Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada

Namgis Burial Grounds – Alert Bay – Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada

Namgis Burial Grounds - Alert Bay - Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada

Namgis Burial Grounds – Alert Bay – Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada

Namgis Burial Grounds - Alert Bay - Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada

Namgis Burial Grounds – Alert Bay – Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada

Namgis Burial Grounds - Alert Bay - Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada

Namgis Burial Grounds – Alert Bay – Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada

Without a doubt, one of the most incredible sights to behold on Alert Bay is the Namgis Burial Grounds.  This centuries old site features totem poles that seem to have no end in their reach.  Many of the totem poles here hold the remains of the first inhabitants of Cormorant Island, each one having a family crest carved in it that typically features the local wildlife that play such an important role in the lives of those in the community.  It is widely believed that the totem poles that now lie prone on the ground are in process of returning to the earth from where they originally came.  This profound and poignant location will leave you forever changed as you take in the sights and ponder the meaning behind what you are witnessing.  It certainly changed us forever.

Bird On A Wire - Alert Bay - Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada

Bird On A Wire – Alert Bay – Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada

Bald Eagle - Alert Bay - Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada

Bald Eagle – Alert Bay – Cormorant Island, British Columbia, Canada

Bald Eagle sightings are quite common here too, we were told.  We cannot even begin to describe the feeling you have while you stand on the shores looking outward only to see one or more of these absolutely incredible birds in their natural habitat.  In some ways, it feels like you’ve found something new in your very inner core, a new appreciation and understanding of the amazing things that can be discovered in nature.  Particularly in places like Alert Bay, where time literally stands still, leaving you no choice but to take it all in and experience it all on a very personal level.

As we wax poetic on our trip where the wonder and romance of the west coast of Canada is found with every turn, we plan our return trip.  This article concludes our visit to Alert Bay, but is only the beginning of what we have to share from the region.  Our next feature articles will be showcasing Telegraph Cove, another incredible location up in the northern region that is simply too amazing to describe, you’ve just got to see it in person.

Please feel free to visit our comprehensive Alert Bay Photo Gallery and explore all our feature posts from Alert Bay.  We’re heading back up north this summer of 2016, maybe we’ll see you there?

Thank you so much for visiting us here at The Hollow today.  As always, we love to hear from all our visitors, so please do feel free to leave us any comments you may have below.

Blue Morning

Posted: 23rd February 2016 by ToadHollowPhoto in Photography
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

As a photographer, I am finding myself out and about much more frequently in the early mornings taking advantage of the ethereal mood and natural light that is expressed this time of day.  Each morning and evening just before the sun appears or disappears a type of light that is perfect for photography arrives, often referred to as the “blue hour” by natural light photographers.  The shots we are sharing here today in this post were both taken during the blue hour in the Cowichan Valley this winter.

Early Morning - Cowichan Bay In The Blue Hour, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Early Morning – Cowichan Bay, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

This shot was captured in one of our favorite photo destinations, Cowichan Bay.  This tiny community sits right on the shores of the bay and is host to countless boats and marine scenes, all adding to the overall aesthetic and feel of the area.  Accent this with the beautiful blue light found in the very early morning, and you have the perfect setting for an ethereal mood.  I stood here on the frozen shores, watching as the light slowly crept up on the horizon, waiting for the right moment when the light in the sky was balanced perfectly with the ambient scene.  The only sound I heard was that of the countless birds that live in the Cowichan Estuary as they flew low over the water as their day began, their wingtips caressing the top of the water leaving streaks of motion behind.  Not only was the setting itself magical, but it also provided me a welcome reprieve from the busy trappings of the regular day, creating the perfect setting for a personal meditation of sorts as my spirit blended in seamlessly with the wonders I found myself immersed in.

Early Morning - Mt Prevost In The Blue Hour, Duncan, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Early Morning – Mt Prevost, Duncan, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

This shot was captured a few weeks later in the early part of February.  An early season of clear skies has found this time of year to take on a semblance of spring with crisp and clean air and a stillness that can only be found now.  The temperatures still drop quite drastically (for our area) this time of year, and a rainfall in the town of Duncan overnight resulted in a dusting of snow high atop Mount Prevost which sits just outside the city.  There are few spots in town where this mountain isn’t plainly visible, almost creating a feeling of being watched by an ambivalent spirit from all corners of the community.  Everyone in the area has some personal connection to this dramatic mountain, and I am certainly no exception.  I also loved the crisp white farmhouse the sits at the base of the mountain in this picture, creating a terrific anchor point for the shot.

As we get older, I find it increasingly difficult to hearken to the morning alarm and get myself out of the comfortable bed that has sanctioned a blissful night of dreams to face the cold and stark morning.  But, it is also a chance to spend some personal time with my surroundings, and it also gives me wonderful landscapes to explore and capture.  Sometimes in life you have to experience the uncomfortable to find that which you so desperately seek.  In some ways this can be looked at as a general metaphor for life, I think.

Thanks for taking the time to visit us here at The Hollow today, we truly appreciate it.  As always, we love to hear from all our visitors, so please feel free to leave any comments you may have below.

Time is a relentless master, forever marching forward and never altering it’s pace.  A boat now lies prone on the banks of the shores of Alert Bay, on Cormorant Island, with only it’s memories, memories that are secret to us now but never forgotten for those who stood upon her deck working the seas.  She was once the source of a living on the rugged west coast of Canada, but today only the haunted skeleton of what once was remains behind.

"Ode To Glenda Lynn" - Limited Edition Print: 10 Prints

“Ode To Glenda Lynn” – Limited Edition: 10 Prints

Where is her soul today?  Does it remain forever locked at the bottom of the sea in Davey Jones’ Locker?  What did she witness all those years she toiled at sea?  Surely gales and storms and waves a thousand feet tall pounded on her hull as she pitched on roiling waters, only to come home to survive another day.  One day it was her last.  She was brought ashore where now she sits in a state of perpetuity, forever longing to return to the oceans that she once traversed with certainty and courage.

Such is the life of a wood fishing boat on the shores of western Canada.

This image in now available as a Limited Edition Print from Toad Hollow Photography.

The trip lasted 3 days, but it left a mark on our very spirits that will follow us the rest of our days.  Vancouver Island is an amazing and very special place on earth, with no end to the discoveries that can be made.  The tallest mountains, the most beautiful oceans, beaches that go on forever and forests that are so thick there are many spots hidden that have never witnessed a human visitor before.  The island itself is much larger than most think, with hundreds upon hundreds of kilometers of landscape to enjoy as you travel the main highways and roadways that ribbon across the vast expanse.  At the northern tip of the island is a place frozen in time, a place that we had been looking forward to visiting for many years.  In the fall of 2015 we were lucky enough to finally have a chance to make the trip, and in doing so we find ourselves to be forever changed.  Today’s post features Christ Church Anglican Church, a tiny parish in Alert Bay on Cormoront Island that forms an integral part of the area’s history.

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

It was early fall and the weather on Vancouver Island had been lovely all summer, yet as we arrived at the northern end of the island to our anchor spot that would serve as our hub for the rest of the whirlwind trip, the rain fell and a slight chill lingered in the air.  It was really wonderful to see how even over such a relatively short distance between the southern and the northern ends of the island, the weather was tangibly different.  Our first day in the area found us exploring the wonderful community of Port McNeill, in intense anticipation of what lay before us.  If you are just joining us on our big adventure here on our blog, please feel free to check out our previous two posts on Port McNeill “Port McNeill – Day One” and “Exploring Port McNeill“, and to see a sneak peek as to what the community of Alert Bay has in store for us please visit “Alert Bay – A Visit Of A Lifetime“.

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

We awoke early on our second day, anxious to get to the ferry terminal for the short trip from Port McNeill to Alert Bay on Cormoront Island.  The rains were refreshing after a long, hot summer, and they added a certain personality to the whole area that really speaks to a life led on the west coast in a dense rainforest.

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

For those who follow us regularly, you already know of our deep love for our heritage architecture, and our reverence to visit and photograph our local churches.  Christ Church Anglican Church in Alert Bay is well beyond any typical place you’d visit.  The character of the parish makes it place that stands alone in terms of amazement.  We were given free access to the entire church, and were allowed to explore it with our cameras with no time limits.  This allowed us to become fully immersed in the experience, and in doing so we came away with a fresh perspective on life and on west coast existence.

Alert Bay itself is a place with deep-rooted history that goes back thousands of years in native culture, and is one of the first areas settled during colonization in the 1800’s, making it a hub of sorts.  Even with this all being true, life on Cormoront Island runs at its own distinct cadence, beckoning you to slow your pace and to take in all it has to offer.

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church was built and established in 1878 by the Reverend Alfred James Hall, making it the first such church in the area to serve a growing community.  Signs of this wonderful history and time are evident everywhere inside the church, providing us countless photography subjects.  Each picture we captured was much more than a simple image, it was a moment in time frozen forever.

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

The people we met on our trip were all absolutely wonderful, with a strong and evident pride in both the community and in the bonds that have been created by all from living in a very remote area together for so many years.  Everyone seemed to know everyone, and even while standing on the main road taking in the sights you could see folks everywhere cheerily waving at each other in greetings of the new day.  It was truly heartwarming.

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Almost everywhere we looked, we found connections back to a time nearly 140 years ago, a time that would have been incredibly difficult to live in.  No modern conveniences existed at these times, everything was created by hand and done without machinery.  This, undoubtedly, would create connections with the people and the land that are indelible and lasting.

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Who were the people who made all this?  What were their lives like, how did they earn a living in such a remote community?  What was it like in the heart of brutal winters, cut off from other communities by-and-large as storms swirled ferociously through the region?  These were just some of the questions that haunted us as we spent time inside this lovely church, trying to take in every single iota of experience that was making itself evident.  In many ways, it felt as if the church itself was trying to tell us something, tell us stories of times past, of loss and sorrow, of incredible joy and happiness.  The human experience isn’t always based on a single thread, it’s always a garment woven into a rich and storied tapestry formed of many fibers.

Christ Church Anglican Church - Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

Christ Church Anglican Church – Alert Bay, Cormoront Island, British Columbia, Canada

As with all our visits, eventually they must come to an end.  We stood inside the church, desperately trying to find any vestiges of things left undiscovered, realizing that due to the remote location and the difficulties found in traveling here we wouldn’t be back any time soon.  As we said earlier, the entire experience left us changed with a deeper understanding and appreciation for life at the northern end of Vancouver Island in remote communities.  It also left us with a yearning to see and feel more, an unbridled desire to return, and to return as often as we can.

This incredible and amazing journey would not have been possible without the support and kindness of The Anglican Diocese of British Columbia.  We will always be indebted and forever grateful to all those who helped make this a reality for us.

We have much more to share from our incredible adventure, including some surprises, so please stay tuned as we continue to publish feature stories and photographs from our 3 day tour of a lifetime.

As always, we love to hear from all our visitors, so please feel free to leave us any comments you may have below.  If you’d like to see all 52 high quality photographs from the collection, please visit our online gallery “Christ Church – Alert Bay“.

Rat Rods On Parade

Posted: 7th January 2016 by ToadHollowPhoto in Photography, The Toads At The Sportsplex
Tags: , , , , , ,

In a world where shiny and new is predominant in our culture I always find personal joy in exploring things that are far from that.  Car shows are quite typically full of highly polished examples of hot rods and restorations, yet a new trend has been emerging the past few years that I really enjoy…  that is what is commonly known as the Rat Rod.

Rat Rod - Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 - Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod – Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 – Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod - Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 - Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod – Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 – Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

These creations are designed to look unfinished, a culmination of assembling various mismatched parts with the goal of creating a pure driving machine.  Make no mistake, most of these creations are highly personalized and stylized versions of a particular vision the creator has been working towards, in many cases for years.

Rat Rod - Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 - Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod – Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 – Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod - Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 - Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod – Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 – Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod - Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 - Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod – Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 – Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

As Mrs. Toad and I were making our way through our local car show, the “Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015“, we encountered many cars, trucks and bikes that caught our eyes and imagination.  One of my very favorites was this one here, a car that was obviously inspired by the old radial engine powered warplanes of the early 20th century.  What might appear at first to be a varied bunch of parts in truth is a carefully planned and executed build that takes most of its cues from the old planes.  One of the best things about this genre of car is in finding all the details that the builder has added.  Each item and feature looks to be carefully selected, and in many cases modified, to fit both the car itself and the overall aesthetic design.

Rat Rod - Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 - Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod – Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 – Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod - Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 - Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod – Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 – Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod - Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 - Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod – Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 – Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod - Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 - Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod – Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 – Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod - Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 - Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod – Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 – Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

The next one we encountered appeared to be inspired from old planes as well, but it was very distinct from the first one.  Again, details are to be found everywhere here, each of them adding to the overall visual story the car is telling.  On this particular car, I was personally drawn to the steering wheel and gear shift lever that are obvious throwbacks to the muzzles of the old war plane’s guns.  Small touches like this can add so much to the overall feel and experience you have while exploring the car.

Rat Rod - Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 - Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod – Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 – Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod - Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 - Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod – Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 – Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Further on down the line at the show we encountered this terrific creation.  You’ll note the front grill states this was originally a Fargo truck, but if you look closely at the side profile shot of the hood you will see a clear Cadillac moniker subtly applied.  This only adds to the overall car, once again giving the viewer a feeling that so many disparate parts were used to build this car.  The truth is that this is likely far from accidental, the builder had this in mind pretty much from the start, and once again it really adds to the complete package.

Rat Rod - Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 - Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod – Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 – Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod - Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 - Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod – Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 – Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod - Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 - Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Rat Rod – Beverly Corners Show and Shine 2015 – Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Our last discovery of the day was this car.  It is very difficult to identify the car that started this build as so many varied parts are used here.  But once again, time spent checking out all the wonderful details reveals a patchwork quilt of various features that add to the look and feel of the car.  On this one, I really loved the rat that stands tall in front of the grill holding a can of Budweiser Beer.

I’ve seen some of these cars over the recent years that really do look difficult to get in and out of, and in some cases they don’t always look like a Rolls-Royce in terms of traveling comfort.  These are all secondary factors to the primary one; that is designing and building a totally unique car that speaks to the personality of the owner.  I am not sure you’d get a glimpse into the complexion of an individual as well as you do when checking out a Rat Rod they’ve created.

Make no mistake, these designs aren’t just for observation.  Almost all of them are VERY fast cars, in many cases being machines that are capable of doing donuts in a parking lot for quite the time.  I can smell the tire smoke and see the thick acrid atmosphere from here as I type this feature blog post today…  it’s a sight and sound I crave, and one I am looking forward to as spring is just around the corner for us, and this usually means the Rat Rods are about to hit the streets again.

Thanks for visiting us here at The Hollow today, we really appreciate it.  As always, we love to hear from all our visitors so please feel free to leave us any comments or thoughts you may have below.  Happy Hot Rodding!

The Ethereal Nature Of Winter’s Fog

Posted: 6th January 2016 by ToadHollowPhoto in Photography
Tags: , , , ,

Wisps of fog linger in the air, creating a natural light diffuser that takes much of the color out of the landscape and leaves behind an eerie and ethereal feel.  Figures come and go in the mist, playing tricks with your eyes, leaving you wondering if you really saw that shadow move or if it’s just an artifact of the atmosphere.

Foggy Winter Farm Scene - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Foggy Winter Farm Scene – Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Many photographers like to photograph landscapes at certain times of day, or during certain seasons.  This is for good reason.  The natural light can change a scene drastically as the elements morph during the year and time of day.  One of my favorite times to shoot is in the heart of winter when clear skies overnight leave pristine frost on the ground.  On many days it also creates a thick fog in the Cowichan Valley that can work for or against you.

This is a shot I had been planning for quite some time.  You could argue I’ve been stalking this scene for years without finding the perfect conditions I so desperately sought.  Until this winter.  One day here recently luck would find me ready and waiting, with Mrs. Toad at my side and the conditions coming together that were necessary to complete my vision.  If you view this photo fullscreen, you will find wonderful elements that add to the aesthetic; the patina of the weathered buildings, the old farmhouse perched on the bluff, and the haunting light that reveals faded silhouettes of the trees in the distant background.  What more could you ask for?

Foggy Winter Farm Scene - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Foggy Winter Farm Scene – Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

This farmhouse is so much more than just another old farmhouse, it’s a part of the Cowichan Valley’s rich history and is an important landmark.  If I have my geography correct, this farmhouse was one of the original heritage homes that was built during the early colonization of the valley, built and owned by one of our founding families.  It remains standing, yet the sands of time have taken their toll over the years and weathering is very evident now.  We have been trying for several years to secure a visit to the house so we can document it and preserve it for future generations, so please do stay tuned to our humble corner of the internet in case we finally are able to make that happen.  But, while we work towards this and wait, we are happy to share these truly wonderful, moody and dramatic shots of our beloved valley as winters icy grip takes hold for a period of time, leaving all creatures and inhabitants on the lookout for the first signs of spring.  We certainly don’t want to wish our time away as these scenes only make themselves known for a short time, but it is no secret that most of us anxiously await the thawing of the landscape that warmer temperatures will bring.

Thank you so much for visiting us here at The Hollow today, we truly appreciate it.  As always, we love to hear from all our visitors so please feel free to leave us any comments or thoughts you may have below.

Duncan Wellness Centre

Posted: 28th December 2015 by ToadHollowPhoto in Photography
Tags: , , ,

We were recently commissioned to do a full Commercial Photography Session with the group at the Duncan Wellness Centre in our hometown of Duncan, BC, Canada.  It was a wonderful session that we enjoyed working on, and through the process we got to know the terrific people who operate the centre and learn about their services.  We were absolutely amazed at what we discovered.

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Situated right in the heart of the town, surrounded by cobblestone walkways and heritage architecture, we find the people at the Duncan Wellness Centre offering a wide variety of services that benefit a complete range of needs.

Andrew Teufel - Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Andrew Teufel – Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Violet Reynolds - Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Violet Reynolds – Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Heather Fergus - Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Heather Fergus – Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

These are some of the practitioners who work out of the centre.  Each of them takes a completely holistic approach to working with their clients.  With a deep background in the health care sector they are able to apply their experience to the individual to create a plan that works with their specific goals in mind.

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Classes and workshops are offered, making it easy for clients to join in a group learning experience.  All aspects of healthy living are covered with offered classes, or personal sessions are available that are tailored to the individual.

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Yoga, Tai Chi, Somatic Stretching, and Somatic Yoga classes and workshops give everyone the tools they need to deal with recovery issues, pain management, circulation issues, posture and a healthy mind/body balance.

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

As the photography session progressed, we saw everyone experiencing an increased range of motion with corresponding elevated mindsets.  The core benefits of these practices were evident and visible even to us with no past experience.

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

After photographing the classes and the yoga workshops, we followed Andrew into a treatment room where we watched him work his magic.

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Once again the results were visible and obvious, in a short period of time.  It really made us appreciate the work they do, and the tangible results they achieve.

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

Applied Somatics/Duncan Wellness Centre

After our work with the clients was completed, we had a chance to watch Andrew and Violet in action practicing their yoga.  The poses that they were able to do were amazing, creating art through what they could do with their bodies.  Not everyone who visits the Duncan Wellness Centre is expected to reach this level of flexibility, but is was absolutely amazing to watch masters perform their craft in person like this.

If you are looking for an holistic approach to a balanced and healthy lifestyle, we can think of no better place to call to make an appointment than the wonderful group at the Duncan Wellness Centre.  Tell them the Toads sent you!

Thank you very much for your kind visit to The Hollow today, we really appreciate it.  As always we love to hear from all our visitors, so please feel free to leave us any comments you may have below.