Dare To Dream

Posted: 19th February 2018 by ToadHollowPhoto in Photography
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Sometimes Mrs. Toad and I find ourselves roaming the myriad backroads here on Vancouver Island as you just never know what you’ll find.  The island is full of things unusual, many of them whimsical or slightly magical in nature, all of them beckoning a further look once encountered.  Chemainus is a town that is particularly full of these sorts of things.  You can visit this community often and never really see everything that there is notable to find, making it a perfect adventure destination.

Playhouse - Chemainus, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Playhouse – Chemainus, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Playhouse - Chemainus, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Playhouse – Chemainus, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Who as a child didn’t dream of having a playhouse or a tree fort?  This one in particular sits on a lovely lot that hosts a marvelous heritage home that is full of rich Victorian architectural features, providing the perfect setting for a lovely afternoon’s tea, or a visit from Mr. Rabbit himself.  Ahh, the imaginations of those who are young, or even just young-at-heart.  The details found in this playhouse speak to someone who lovingly designed and created this abode, specifically with a mind to create the perfect setting for young minds to run free, imagining all sorts of worlds and friends, and all sorts of adventures to be found within them.

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The history of the Freemasons began on Vancouver Island during the earliest time of colonization on the west coast of Canada.  Many of the early members of the organization were integral in establishing the communities we all live in today.  In this post we will take a look at two of the Masonic Lodges we were lucky enough to be invited into to photograph, those being the Temple Lodge No.33 in downtown Duncan and the Ashlar Lodge No.3 in Nanaimo.  These facilities have a deep historical background on Vancouver Island and today are cherished as important heritage buildings in both communities.  We believe it’s important to acknowledge the impact the Freemasons have had in our cities, and to appreciate the heritage value of the buildings of the Lodges as an important link to our history.

Ashlar Masonic Lodge No.3 - Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Ashlar Lodge No.3 – Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Ashlar Masonic Lodge No.3 - Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Ashlar Lodge No.3 – Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

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It has been over a year and a half since we visited Glendale Cove on our epic Grizzly Bear viewing adventure, a vacation that my wonderful wife, Mrs. Toad, put together to celebrate my 50th birthday.  It was truly the trip of a lifetime, and one that we still talk about whenever the chance arises, reminiscing about how beautiful the landscapes of that remote part of the British Columbia coast are, and how amazing the bears were to see.  Bears hold a special place in my heart, and have my entire life.  They are a threatened species that always seem to be on the verge of becoming an endangered species as development and hunting reduce their fragile population.  If this is your first visit to our blog here, you may wish to see some of the previous posts we’ve made from our trips to this part of British Columbia, cataloged here in our series “North Island Toads“.  In particular, you may wish to see our post that specifically talks about our visit to Glendale Cove to see the Grizzly Bears titled “The Grizzly Bears Of Glendale Cove“.

Tide Rip Grizzly Tours – Telegraph Cove, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Tide Rip Grizzly Tours – Telegraph Cove, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

The day started early in the morning one day in June as the fog slowly drifted over Telegraph Cove creating a mystical air that spoke of the wonders that were to come.  We followed the lead boat through Knight Inlet on a rather long journey to the remote region where Glendale Cove is to be found.  The waters were still, the air had a bit of a chill to it, and a sense of the excitement that was about to come was palpable in the boat for all the adventurers.

Tide Rip Grizzly Tours – Telegraph Cove, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Tide Rip Grizzly Tours – Telegraph Cove, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

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A Blue Winter Fog

Posted: 17th January 2018 by ToadHollowPhoto in Photography
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As we made our way through the backroads of Cowichan Valley here on Vancouver Island, the rains had stopped and the air was still, creating thick layers of fog.  Coming up over the top of a hill we looked down upon the town of Chemainus and saw the entire town and ocean inlet was covered in a thick fog that resembled a low-hanging cloud.  Hardly anything was visible at all.  This left us feeling like we were in an airplane flying over massive cloud formations, with just the odd peak at what lay below making itself visible every once in awhile.  We really do love the mood and feel this kind of ethereal ambiance creates so we headed straight for the shores to see what scenes we could find looking out over the ocean.

Foggy Winter Day - Chemainus, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Foggy Winter Day – Chemainus, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

The colors were highly muted and the scenes offered very little in terms of dynamic range.  Much of the backdrop disappeared entirely, leaving only glimpses of certain things that looked as if they were peering back at us through a thin veil.  The gentle waters denoted this incredible situation, as any sort of solid wind would blow the fog through the valley and away from the shores.

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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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