It’s a malady as old as the ages themselves.  It’s a condition that many artists face, and while some master it, others spend lifetimes chasing it only to perish just short of the true goal.  So please bear with me today as I wax poetic on this topic, one that is just as much a part of me personally as it is part of a larger challenge that all artists face.  Such is the life of an artist, a photographer… one that is as vexing as it is fulfilling.

Sailing Ship - Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Sailing Ship – Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Just the other day as I was out photographing a feature we will be sharing here with you shortly, one that we’re very excited about, I came across this scene on the shores of the ocean here in Victoria, BC on Vancouver Island in Canada.  I love sailing ships, and the old historic tall ships in particular.  There is an inherent romance in the way they traverse the oceans, bobbing and weaving across mile upon mile of solitude, with only a heading and some faith to fill their sails.  They are in an endless chase, always looking forward to the arrival, but reveling in the journey itself.

I saw the scene captured here as a metaphor for this condition.  It seems that this particular ship is always just a few feet away from that ultimate goal; the one where the perfect light comes together with the perfect subject to cast a scene that is almost magical to behold to those who seek it.  I find that as we go through the process of growing our practice here, these experiences are becoming more and more frequent.  I love the challenge of constantly learning, constantly trying to better my craft by finding new techniques, or new ways of doing things.  For me, I love this, and I truly hope that this experience continues until I am no longer active in the field, for it is the journey that’s important not the end goal.  This is all much like our common vernacular that states “it’s always in the last place you look”; this one may be self-evident inasmuch as once you find that which you seek, you no longer look for it.  In this way, the entire process almost becomes a never-ending adventure.  Just the way I like it…

Thanks for joining us today on this metaphorical quest.  We truly appreciate all our visitors and we encourage you to leave us any comments or thoughts you may have below.


Every year the terrific folks at the Maple Bay Marina, just around the corner from where we live, host a widely acclaimed event called “The Wooden Boat Festival”.  For those who love everything nautical, this is a must-see event, one that finds crowds of folks coming from points all over the world to take in the big weekend.  In today’s post we continue our running photoblog feature of this years event in our series “The Hollow’s Backyard“.  Let’s check out a couple of the absolutely terrific Chris-Craft wooden boats that were on display.

Classic Chris-Craft Wooden Boat - Maple Bay, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Classic Chris-Craft Wooden Boat – Maple Bay, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

In the world of boating, the name Chris-Craft is synonymous with quality built wood boats.  Chris Smith, whom the company is named after, built his first wooden boat in 1874, and by 1924 the official company name was changed to Chris-Craft as we know it today.

Classic Chris-Craft Wooden Boat - Maple Bay, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Classic Chris-Craft Wooden Boat – Maple Bay, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

The day was slightly overcast at times and the waters were fairly still in the marina.  This really made for great photography opportunities as we walked the docks and took in all the activities that were going on.  In the distance you could hear live music being played and everywhere you looked you found folks chatting with each other, sharing their passion for these great classic boats.

Classic Chris-Craft Wooden Boat - Maple Bay, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Classic Chris-Craft Wooden Boat – Maple Bay, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Classic Chris-Craft Wooden Boat - Maple Bay, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Classic Chris-Craft Wooden Boat – Maple Bay, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Given the tight quarters to work in, shooting handheld is really our only option at these events, there are just so many people and boats in the marina over the weekend.  I love it when we get home and check out the shots being downloaded off the camera to try to find the real gems in the collection.  For The Wooden Boat Festival, the best shots frequently do feature Chris-Craft boats largely due to the natural beauty of their incredible woodwork.

If you happen to find yourself on Vancouver Island in time for next year’s event, we highly encourage you to come and see it in person!  It’s just one of those things that is a way better experience when had personally, and if you are into photography like we are here, you’ll fill up your memory cards in no time flat.

Many 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 you may have below!

Today Cole Island is inhabited by only the whispers of those who came before.  It now stands as a very important link to our heritage here on Vancouver Island under the watchful eye of the Provincial Government’s Heritage Branch and a local group of local people who have formed a community called the “Friends of Cole Island“.  We’ve seen it time and time again, only the ongoing work of dedicated volunteers can make a difference for a place like this, creating a lasting legacy that will remain for generations to come.  And it’s through this legacy that we can maintain these important links to our heritage that can be shared with future generations to come.  Today’s post marks the end of this photoblog series “The Toads At Cole Island“, if you’re just joining us now we really encourage you to check out the previous posts to learn all about the incredibly interesting history that comprises the site.

Cole Island - Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria, BC, Canada

Cole Island – Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria, BC, Canada –

I have to admit, we love photographing places like this.  The ability to become fully immersed in a site and it’s surroundings helps us to connect the now with the past and always leaves us with a profound sense.  They day we spent on Cole Island was a hot one, in the middle of summer, and the air felt heavy and rather humid.  Once we landed on the shores and began the session, it took no time before we were discovering artifacts, features and architecture; all things we love to photograph and share with our audience here.

Cole Island - Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria, BC, Canada

Cole Island – Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria, BC, Canada –

Cole Island - Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria, BC, Canada

Cole Island – Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria, BC, Canada –

Cole Island - Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria, BC, Canada

Cole Island – Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria, BC, Canada –

Every turn of our adventure found us in a process of discovery.  Artifacts are found everywhere and if you pay attention they will tell you a story.  As we’ve mentioned in our previous posts, this site was constructed in the mid 1800’s during the earliest time of colonization of the island.  It’s really amazing to consider the efforts that would have had to have happened to build a facility like this, especially at this time.  There were no power tools, no super stores to visit for building supplies…  you either found it here, had it shipped here from far away, or you made it yourself.  It’s this very tenacity that speaks to the community we have since built on Vancouver Island, a community of resilient and determined people who love and appreciate the treasures we have.  Even if sites like Cole Island remain on the periphery of our collective experience.

Cole Island - Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria, BC, Canada

Cole Island – Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria, BC, Canada –

Cole Island - Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria, BC, Canada

Cole Island – Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria, BC, Canada –

Cole Island - Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria, BC, Canada

Cole Island – Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria, BC, Canada –

Of all the remaining structures on Cole Island, this one was the most personally profound for us.  This is widely considered to be one of the first homes to be constructed here in the Victoria area during the period.  Today it remains standing only through the efforts of those who strive to preserve it.  Facing a constant onslaught of wicked weather coming in from the Pacific Ocean, the slow process of decay is combated and the home remains an important symbol of those earliest days of active colonization.  Years of salt water continue to erode the bricks, stone and roof in an environment that is somewhat relentless.  Life would have been beyond difficult at the time, and we can’t help but wonder if some of the new arrivals weren’t really prepared for what they’d find here in terms of raw and rugged landscapes.

Cole Island - Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria, BC, Canada

Cole Island – Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria, BC, Canada –

Cole Island - Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria, BC, Canada

Cole Island – Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria, BC, Canada –

Cole Island - Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria, BC, Canada

Cole Island – Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria, BC, Canada –

As we enter the building, we find that only the light from the open doorway illuminates the interior.  This made for an incredibly difficult shooting environment.  Since our visit we have bought some great lighting equipment for our practice and we would love a chance to return for a more detailed photographic exploration of the house.  Even with the challenges found in the technical aspects of the interior shoot, we still find incredible history and artistic tension within these walls.  All these bricks and stones were laid by hand, by men who were convinced that life in the new land held opportunity for those brave enough to come.  We can honestly say all these years later that they were right.

Cole Island - Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria, BC, Canada

Cole Island – Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria, BC, Canada –

Cole Island - Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria, BC, Canada

Cole Island – Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria, BC, Canada –

These are the remains of the wooden piers at this site.  We don’t know for certain when this was built, but it’s very, very old.  It may even be a remnant of the original piers constructed at site during the times the island was an active facility.  All the activities conducted here were centric to protecting the lower island and the new settlers who came to the lands with hopeful hearts.  You can almost feel the spirit of the men who landed here and set out to build something special, something new.

Cole Island - Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria, BC, Canada

Cole Island – Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria, BC, Canada –

Cole Island - Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria, BC, Canada

Cole Island – Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria, BC, Canada –

As we make our way back to shore by boat we turn to take a final look at the grand structures left standing sentry on Cole Island.  The day was beyond exciting, a day full of discovery and wonder and one we will never forget.  Through the act of kindness we find that Cole Island remains an important site in terms of our history, and a place that is actively and lovingly maintained to remain a constant reminder of the efforts of those who came before us.  For that we remain eternally grateful to the fabulous group of people “Friends of Cole Island” who monitor and maintain this site.

Thank you once again for visiting us here at The Hollow today.  We appreciate each and every visitor we receive here, and we encourage you to leave us any comments or thoughts you may have below as we love to hear from all our visitors.

Have you ever seen the largest raptor in North America?  Have you seen it up close?  Better yet, have you seen it fly just inches over your head?  If not for the terrific people who operate The Raptors here in the Cowichan Valley, these experiences would never be possible.

We’ve now visited twice, and each adventure is beyond amazing.  This is a place you can visit time and time again, and with each visit you will come away with a deeper understanding of these incredible birds, and the connection with nature that they bring.  These wonderful birds are way beyond being just predators, they are amazing spirits and personalities.

The Birds In Action

The Raptors - Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada

The Raptors – Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada –

The Raptors - Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada

The Raptors – Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada –

Our visit to The Raptors found us taking in one of their incredible flying demonstrations.  It’s absolutely amazing to listen to the handlers talk about how these birds live in the wild, the important roles they play in our fragile ecosystems, and their unique personalities.  This is Gaston from Quebec, a stork of incredible stature.  And, we might verily add, one of incredible character too.  He is the largest bird at the center at this time, we understand, and he was amazing to see in flight and at play with the staff and the audience.

The Raptors - Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada

The Raptors – Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada –

The Raptors - Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada

The Raptors – Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada –

The Raptors - Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada

The Raptors – Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada –

Quite honestly I think the hardest part about visiting The Raptors has to be in picking a favorite bird.  As I sit here typing this post, our next featured bird is this very young barn owl.  We can’t remember his name at the time of this writing, but in truth he stole my heart.  This particular little owl is learning to fly and learning about his role in the broader world he finds himself living in.  We cannot begin to tell you how endearing it was to watch him flit about in the air, having so much fun interacting with everyone, and quite honestly showing off a little…  he knew he was cute, make no mistake about it.  These little creatures when found in their natural habitats are terrific pest controllers, with each bird being capable of hunting and eating several rodents in a day.  A family of barn owls on your property will find your land to be pretty much rodent free.

It also really needs to be said that the staff who work and interact with the birds and the visitors are all second to none.  One of the best moments we had during the flight demonstration was to see how excited the handler was in watching this little owl learning to fly, and seeing the advancements he is making.  It was absolutely heartwarming and a really special moment in the afternoon.

The Raptors - Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada

The Raptors – Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada –

Next up for the demonstration was this gorgeous hawk, named Nova if we recall correctly.  The way he flew and the way he interacted with the staff here really shows the strong interpersonal ties that are created between people and these birds.  It was noted that several of the birds were relative newcomers to The Raptors, but as we watched the show we felt that the connection ran much deeper.  There is an unspoken understanding and symbiosis between everyone, and it comes shining through as a very special element.  One that will have you coming back time and time again, if you can.

The Raptors - Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada

The Raptors – Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada –

The Raptors - Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada

The Raptors – Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada –

The Raptors - Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada

The Raptors – Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada –

The Raptors - Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada

The Raptors – Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada –

And finally, it was time for Aries, the gorgeous Golden Eagle, to make his appearance.  Once again we find that connection between bird and staff was beyond palpable; these are true relationships that are forged.  I sat in absolute awe as we watched this largest bird of the raptor clan in North America fly around the grounds.  I was so enthralled by this eagle, I am surprised I came away with any decent photographs.  After all, it’s easy to forget about the camera in your hand as you sit in the very presence of one of these, seeing them fly with seemingly little effort.  This fellow was quite boisterous and vocal; apparently he was quite happy and excited to be here today and was telling us to notice him.  Try not to; I dare you.

Video Of Aries The Golden Eagle

VIDEO - The Raptors - Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada

VIDEO – The Raptors – Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada –

Don’t ask me how as I honestly can’t tell you, but I somehow managed to find the wherewithal to pull out my video camera during the demonstration.  I thought you might be as amazed as we were to see this glorious bird in action in video.  Click on the picture above to be transported to a short 1 1/2 minute video clip featuring this incredible eagle in full motion flight.  And prepare to be utterly flabbergasted.

The Raptors Medieval Day

One of the primary reasons we visited the center yesterday was to discuss a very exciting event that is being held here this weekend, Saturday, August 23rd, 2014.  This annual event is growing every year in popularity as the word gets out.  Here is the official post on The Raptors Facebook page talking about the big day!

What a terrific way to bridge the eons by bringing together all these great features and events!  If you are near the Cowichan Valley on Saturday, we recommend you come visit and experience this first-hand.  We’ll be there, too, photographing the costumes, the birds, the events and the visitors all enjoying themselves.  Look for us and come and say hi!

Thank you so much for your kind visit to The Hollow here today to see our latest feature story.  As always, we love to hear from all our visitors so please feel free to leave any comments you may have below.  See you at The Raptors on Saturday!

Art is all about interpretation.  And when it comes to personal expression, there is no art like that of the car and motorcycle enthusiast.  Given my rather feisty reputation behind the bars of a bike like this I likely will never pilot one personally, but they still make me stop in my tracks instantly when I come across one that is obviously special.  In today’s post we’re going to take a look at a stunning custom chopper we found on display at our local “Warmlands Show n Shine 2014” this summer.  This bike grabbed my heart and imagination in one glance.

Custom Chopper - Duncan, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Custom Chopper – Duncan, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

To me, a motorcycle is the modern-day equivalent of a trusty steed.  It’s a companion, it’s a form of transportation, and it tells a lot about the rider in one fleeting look.

It seems to me that as we tour the local car shows, the appetite for customs appears to be growing.  I really do think these are contemporary forms of rolling art, no detail is ever overlooked and no two machines are even close to the same.  On this particular beautiful chopper, it might very well be the vibrant orange colors that draw your eye at first, but if you take some time to observe the finer details, you really begin to see a canvas take form.  Note the chrome on the trim, the wheels, that wicked front fork with a wicked rake…  the sunlight literally dances off the surfaces on a bright summers day.  The lines are flowing, like the air the bike cuts through as it makes its way across our byways and highways.  I think it’s absolutely beautiful.

Custom Chopper - Duncan, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Custom Chopper – Duncan, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

From the front, the combination of the dramatic reach of the forks in conjunction with the very narrow stance creates a razor-sharp line that resembles a stiletto.  The frame cuts through the air silently, even though the open pipes are not afraid to let everyone know in the immediate vicinity as to who’s here, and who’s in charge.

While although custom choppers like this one may or may not be to your personal taste, it’s really hard to argue their inherent beauty.  They have a wonderful consolidation of soft in their lines alongside the hard in their vociferous heartbeat, an almost pure definition of the term “beauty within the beast”.  It’s an allure that is much bigger than me, and one I will always heed whenever the winds of fate put me in front of a subject like this.

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

Our love for everything rusty runs from the sublime to the surreal at times, driving us onward, forever searching for that next abandoned or forgotten artifact to explore with our lens.  A while back, the lovely Mrs. Toad happened to come across the Ladysmith Train Station and Railway Museum and told me all about it.  This spurred us on one fine morning to visit it in person; and the results were beyond my wildest imagination!  In today’s post we’re kicking off a new photoblog series titled “Ladysmith Train Station & Railway Museum” featuring the shots we captured on this visit.  You’re going to love these.

Ladysmith Railway Museum - Ladysmith, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Ladysmith Railway Museum – Ladysmith, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

As you make your way down into the museum area of the old train station yard, you come across a display of old trains and cars.  We’ll be sharing some truly stunning shots from here in later posts and thought we’d start this new series here today by featuring the old steam locomotive sitting on the tracks.

The entire Ladysmith area was originally founded on the precept of coal mining, forming an integral part of the overall island strategy of moving coal up and down our main corridors.  The other big industry that helped start the community was logging, and we see plenty of artifacts left behind from that era.  But, as with everything in this world we live in, times change.  In this case economic considerations have created a situation where the Ladysmith Train Station was no longer a viable facility to operate for VIA, and as such it was closed a few years back now.

With all that being said, let’s focus on the trains today.

Ladysmith Railway Museum - Ladysmith, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Ladysmith Railway Museum – Ladysmith, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

As I am sure this will come of little surprise to those who follow us regularly, the very first thing I wanted to do when we came across the display was to climb aboard.  The 3 year old in me started climbing and hanging off the ladder up into body of the train, happily snapping and shooting handheld as there was literally no room to bring my tripod up here with any form of ease.  One of the things I couldn’t help but note in this shot is the holes that remain that are letting sunlight into the cabin.  Are these remnants of the rivets?  I’ve never really seen anything like this before, but in all honestly I hadn’t been paying attention either.

Ladysmith Railway Museum - Ladysmith, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Ladysmith Railway Museum – Ladysmith, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

The boilers in these things are just massive.  You’d obviously need a lot of power to get a train like this rolling, especially with a heavy cargo.  In this shot we noticed how the rivets aren’t perfect, leading me to believe that these weren’t installed by machine, but rather this is the result of a manual construction process.  It’s these little imperfections that add so much artistic tension to the whole scene.  Who were the men who built this train?  Who was the engineer who drove this train?  How must it have felt to travel across a largely untamed land, in brutal weather conditions, surrounded by a forest full of wild animals of species of all kinds?  It’s this very spirit and courage that helped to build the island up the way it is today, making communities that have deep ties to both the land around us, and to each other.

In upcoming posts we will be featuring some of the railway cars that are displayed here, as well as some of the key buildings.  The entire site is going through a form of transformation as the railway era appears to be coming to an end here on the island, and new interests and opportunities arise.  This is the way of the world these days, and quite honestly we’re thrilled to find an appetite for maintaining these important links to our past.  It’s the only way future generations will have a sense of appreciation for the island and the history that brought us all here to this point today.

Many thanks for visiting us here at The Hollow today, we really do 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.

Ship To Shore

Posted: 14th August 2014 by ToadHollowPhoto in Photography
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

When we first started Toad Hollow, I often wondered if we would eventually shoot all the interesting subjects that exist here on Vancouver Island.  Years later I can honestly say that was short-sighted.  Take Genoa Bay for instance; a lovely little marina community that is home to full and part-time residents, character-filled float homes and some of the most beautiful and interesting boats you can find.  And the best part has to be the fact it is situated right in the heart of the Cowichan Valley, making it both one of our favorite places to visit frequently, as well as one of the island’s best kept secrets.

Marine Seascape - Genoa Bay, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Marine Seascape – Genoa Bay, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Grey days are quite normal here on the island.  Island-dwellers are very accustomed to living under a dark, moody sky, and in many cases this adds to the feel of the photography we capture, creating an authentic sense of what life is truly like here.  While it’s accurate to say that colors may be slightly muted and details may be less evident, the truth is this adds a needed touch of drama to the scene.

The above shot was captured just around the corner from Genoa Bay.  This tiny marina community sits at the end of a winding country road, the final destination before you are at the tip of the peninsula and surrounded by ocean.  It’s not unusual to see large container and shipping boats moored in the area.  We particularly love the way the large ship pictured here juxtaposes against its natural surroundings.  The rippled reflections from the vessel are just the finishing touch.

Marine Seascape - Genoa Bay, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Marine Seascape – Genoa Bay, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

From another perspective we can clearly see the nature of the small bays that dot the island, and the landscape that rises above the ocean.  These waters are deep in spots, and quite shallow in others.  Piloting a huge shipping boat through here would be an exercise in caution, to say the least.  I can thankfully say I know of no accidents since moving here in the early eighties, providing a testament to the skills and talents of the pilots and captains that make their way through the channels that surround the island.

Our hearts fill with joy every time we head out on a day of adventure like the one we had here.  Mrs. Toad and I explore the roads, taking the paths that are mostly untraveled, looking for opportunities and vistas to share.  After all, if we can share a little of our vision and experience here with you, you may be inclined to visit personally.  And if you do, prepare to be amazed.

Thank you for your kind visit today, we really appreciate it.  As always, we love to hear from all our visitors so please don’t hesitate to leave us any comments you may have below.

We are avid fans of great architecture, particularly architecture from years past that has left an indelible mark on the community it lives in.  We find that when you enjoy these buildings from the outside frequently you are left wondering what they look like inside.  And in many cases what you find is not what you expect.  In the case of our visit to Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria, BC earlier this year, our expectations were far exceeded as we explored and discovered what has to be one of the most profound places we’ve visited so far.  Thank you for joining us once again as we continue one of our favorite long-running photoblog series, “The Anglican Church Project” with the final installment of our sub-series that features “Christ Church Cathedral“.  The entire gallery of 86 high quality photographs is available on our gallery site, please make sure you pop over to see the entire collection.

Christ Church Cathedral - Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada

Christ Church Cathedral – Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada –

Christ Church Cathedral - Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada

Christ Church Cathedral – Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada –

When observed from the outside, Christ Church Cathedral creates a dramatic presence right in the heart of the city.  The scale of the building is evident immediately and you’re left with a distinct feeling that something special is held within those wonderful stone walls.  You’d be right.

As soon as you enter the cathedral you are struck by a sense of awe and grandeur.  The arches seem to reach for the heavens themselves and everywhere you look you find details and features that are very meaningful.  How wonderful it must have been once the construction of this new church was complete for the growing community to have such a place to come and commune and share fellowship as the city literally sprung to life all around them.  Even though the church itself is only over 80 years old, it is steeped in history and tradition that followed the cities settlers over from the UK.  This bridge between the old and new world is evident in the cathedral, and the city proper.

Christ Church Cathedral - Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada

Christ Church Cathedral – Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada –

Christ Church Cathedral - Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada

Christ Church Cathedral – Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada –

It’s nearly impossible to imagine what life would have been like back then.  In today’s day-and-age, we find ourselves living in a degree of comfort; the thermostat always just a reach away, vehicles readily and easily available to shuttle us around as we go about our daily lives, food easily accessed through a myriad of stores and choices within.  But this was not always the case.  In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, many people left the known for the unknown, heading across a treacherous ocean to arrive on a foreign shore, full of hope and anticipation of a better life and future.  The comfort you would find in the community and in a parish like this would have been the difference between simply arriving and finding a new home.  It’s these very ties to the community and to each other that would have left everyone with a sense of belonging.

Christ Church Cathedral - Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada

Christ Church Cathedral – Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada –

The love and appreciation for everything around them didn’t stop just in the people in the community, it also extended to the animals and wildlife of the area.  If you look closely at the middle column near the top, you will notice a bird statue.  This little statue has incredible significance to the church.

Self-guided tour posted on the Christ Church Cathedral site states:

The “Robin Pillar” is a tribute to a determined little bird which build her nest near the capital of the south-eastern pillar of the Nave. Building operations at that point were suspended until her family had been launched out into the world. A stone model of the bird and nest marks the spot. You can see it if you run your eyes up the pillar to the capital.

We found it so heartwarming to learn of how the love for one another extended to include the compassion expressed for this little bird and her emerging family.   This terrific story adds so much to the overall experience.

Christ Church Cathedral - Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada

Christ Church Cathedral – Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada –

Christ Church Cathedral - Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada

Christ Church Cathedral – Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada –

Christ Church Cathedral - Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada

Christ Church Cathedral – Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada –

One of our very favorite features of the cathedral is most definitely the pipe organ.  In this article, organ designer Hellmuth Wolff discusses the impetus behind the design and the challenges faced during construction and installation.  For those who appreciate the enormity of an engineering task like this, it’s well worth the time to read.

Christ Church Cathedral - Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada

Christ Church Cathedral – Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada –

Christ Church Cathedral - Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada

Christ Church Cathedral – Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada –

Christ Church Cathedral - Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada

Christ Church Cathedral – Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada –

Christ Church Cathedral - Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada

Christ Church Cathedral – Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada –

Christ Church Cathedral - Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada

Christ Church Cathedral – Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada –

On the day we visited we were blessed with the opportunity to hear this eloquent instrument in person as a young man came by the cathedral for practice.  The deep tones and wonderful tonal ambiance of the organ was accented by the tall ceilings and expanse of the cathedral’s interior.  The bass notes literally permeated our bodies, sending wave upon wave of delight through us as we experienced something we knew was so special.  If you have a chance to experience this yourself, we highly encourage it.

Christ Church Cathedral - Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada

Christ Church Cathedral – Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada –

The time we spent in discovery at Christ Church Cathedral was much more than just a photo-shoot.  It was a personal journey that taught us a little about the city and area we love so much, the community that calls it home, and a little about ourselves through the process of self-revelation.  It is widely said that a picture tells the story of 1,000 words, which we do find to be true here, but there is nothing that can replace a direct and personal experience with the wider world we live in.

As we wrap up our series on Christ Church Cathedral here, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in making this project come to life.  If not for the kindness and generosity of time and spirit by so many this project would never have seen completion.  For that we are eternally grateful.

As always, we love to hear from all our visitors.  Please feel free to leave any comments or thoughts you may have below.  Thank you for visiting.

Buckets come in all sorts of sizes, shapes, many with different intended uses.  Hands-down, the coolest bucket that I know of has to be of the Ford T-Bucket variety.  These highly modified cars tend to only loosely resemble the original car that motivated their creation, and they all stand out as unique and personal expressions of a deep passion and love for this genre of car hobbyist.  In today’s post we’re kicking off a brand new photoblog series “Warmlands Show n Shine 2014” where we will feature photographs we captured at the recent car show here in Duncan.

Classic Ford Hot Rod - "Ford T Bucket" - Duncan, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Classic Ford Hot Rod – “Ford T Bucket” – Duncan, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

The old adage, “they just don’t make ‘em like that anymore!” couldn’t be more true than it is for this generation of car.  Simple sheet metal graces the car, with the basic premise being to create a fundamental cover for the underlying mechanics that comprise the incredible hot rod.  The results are beautiful and totally unique lines that are distinctly a byproduct of this era.

With this particular Ford T Bucket we’ve got some of the key features at work here.  Immediately evident are the dual 4 barrel carbs sitting proudly atop a very serious looking tunnel-ram intake manifold, and the protruding air snorkel that is designed to suck in as much air as possible to feed the hungry small block V8 that sits between the rails making up the frame.  You’ll also note the chrome side exit exhaust pipes and the bona fide moon dish wheel covers, both very authentic to the time period when these beasts roamed and owned the streets that they prowled on.

Classic Ford Hot Rod - "Ford T Bucket" - Duncan, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Classic Ford Hot Rod – “Ford T Bucket” – Duncan, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

A pair of Holley carburetors sit on the manifold, a favorite of hot rodders for generations.  They are easy to install and tune, and are readily available at both auto wreckers and car parts shops all across the country.  The tunnel-ram manifold is a precursor to the more contemporary forced induction systems, and was designed to fill the combustion chambers with the largest charge of fuel and air possible.  This, my friends, translates directly to power.  And in a minimalistic car like this, that power would be amazing to experience first-hand.

Classic Ford Hot Rod - "Ford T Bucket" - Duncan, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Classic Ford Hot Rod – “Ford T Bucket” – Duncan, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

The interiors of these cars are spared nothing, and although they maintain that historic link to the minimalism that was so evident in cars of this generation, they also exhibit a personal interpretation of the car based on the owner’s tastes.  The features may be limited here with a distinct absence of stereo system, navigation accoutrements and the obvious lack of both air conditioning and a heater.  That’s OK, these cars are never meant to be driven in the heart of winter, and if you are lucky enough to find yourself cruising the streets in one in the summer you will enjoy the connection to the outdoors in the open cockpit.  Entertainment is always just a press of the gas pedal away and you really need nothing else to enjoy the full experience.

Classic Ford Hot Rod - "Ford T Bucket" - Duncan, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Classic Ford Hot Rod – “Ford T Bucket” – Duncan, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

This is the view that many see.  And frequently for a very short period of time.  Once again from this perspective we enjoy the simplicity of the car’s design.  Coach lights add a period-correct feel to the car and the wide back tires are supposed to try and tame all the power created by the fire-breathing V8, turning it all into forward momentum and broad smiles on the faces of those lucky enough to be careening down the roadway in style.

We’ve got an incredible catalog of photographs we’ll be featuring on our blog here in the coming months from the big car show, so if you are a fan of these beauties please do stay tuned.  For further fun, check out this page that features a great list of Hot Rod Slang terms, sure to keep the budding rodder entertained for quite some time.

Many thanks for popping on by today, we really appreciate your visit and we hope you’ve enjoyed this trek down memory lane with us here!  As always, we love to hear from all our visitors so please feel free to leave us any comments you may have below!
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All too often these days we find ourselves shocked to discover another link to our past is gone.  Dwindling budgets for things related to heritage are having a notoriously negative effect, and the overall economy being what it is dictates that contemporary developers have to consider costs and profits when taking on projects.  These factors result in the ongoing erosion of what little heritage we have left standing these days.  So, when we were invited to return to Cowichan Station to photograph the 100th year reunion of Cowichan Station School and to see the progress being made by the community in re-purposing the heritage schoolhouse, we literally hopped at the opportunity.

Cowichan Station School - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Let’s start today’s feature by stepping back in time a few years.  In September of 2011 Mrs. Toad and I were out and about on one of our usual adventures and we happened to be exploring in the community of Cowichan Station.  On our way out we came across the Cowichan Station Rural Traditional School boarded up.  The feel of sadness was palpable as we wandered the grounds shooting the boarded up school, all the while wondering deeply what was in store for it.  A bit of research revealed that the school did indeed form an important part of the heritage and history of Cowichan Station, and that things were rather uncertain.  These thoughts and photographs were documented in our two posts from that year titled “School’s Out” and “The Playground Children Forgot“.

Cowichan Station School - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Within days of publishing our posts we were contacted by folks within the community who were very excited to share with us the pending good news on the facility.  A group had formed to work together to find a way to breath a second life into this wonderful link to the past by refurbishing and renovating the building to turn it into a multi-purpose building for the community to use.  That’s all we needed to hear to become fully entrenched in the story, and avid fans of the proposal.  We then returned to shoot the school again, and we documented the emerging story and photographs in our post titled “Hope Springs Eternal“.

Cowichan Station School - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

By August of 2012, things had really started to take shape following concerted efforts to raise funds and organize community volunteers.  We can honestly say we were filled with excitement to see the progress underway, and the vibrant local appetite to save this storied school and find a new life for it.  We photographed and documented this phase, publishing a post entitled “The Phoenix Rises“.

Cowichan Station School - 100 Year Reunion - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – 100 Year Reunion – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Cowichan Station School - 100 Year Reunion - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – 100 Year Reunion – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

So here we find ourselves, 2 years later, completely inspired and heart warmed to see the incredible effect that people can have when they come together in community spirit in an effort to facilitate change.  Today The HUB at Cowichan Station is full of life and hope, finding a whole new purpose in serving the community.

As we toured the site on our visit, we quickly realized the sheer scope involved in a project like this.  Incredible sums of money have been raised through community donations and grants, and these funds have been allocated carefully to help bring the new vision to life.  This rather quick change to the site is a direct testament to community love and determination, if you ask us.

Cowichan Station School - 100 Year Reunion - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – 100 Year Reunion – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

It’s also really important to note and thank all the sponsors of the site, for if not for their generosity and consideration this would not be possible.

Cowichan Station School - 100 Year Reunion - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – 100 Year Reunion – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Now that we’ve covered a wee bit of the history behind the school and the story that brought us here, let’s move forward to take in the sights and stories of the 100th year reunion event itself.  The turnout was amazing, all day long people streamed in and out taking in all the events and features that were going on.  Young and old alike found reason to connect with The HUB, as is evidenced by the note board that sat in the main front entrance greeting visitors as they arrived.  I found this particular note to be wonderfully poignant, a true message of what has driven this entire process over the course of the past few years.  Quite honestly, we simply don’t see much of this kind of community spirit in these modern times, and it is beyond inspiring to see it happen here, right in front of our very own eyes.

Cowichan Station School - 100 Year Reunion - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – 100 Year Reunion – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Cowichan Station School - 100 Year Reunion - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – 100 Year Reunion – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Cowichan Station School - 100 Year Reunion - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – 100 Year Reunion – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

A lot of care and thought had gone into the displays and features at the event, really adding a wonderful dimension and depth to the unfolding story of the day.  At every turn we encountered something that caught our eye, immediately pulling us deeper into the story and the meaning of the day.

Cowichan Station School - 100 Year Reunion - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – 100 Year Reunion – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Cowichan Station School - 100 Year Reunion - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – 100 Year Reunion – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Cowichan Station School - 100 Year Reunion - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – 100 Year Reunion – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Cowichan Station School - 100 Year Reunion - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – 100 Year Reunion – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Cowichan Station School - 100 Year Reunion - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – 100 Year Reunion – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Cliff Ross, one of the original alumni from roughly 1927 at the school, attended to unveil a commemorative plaque that had been made to note the milestone.  It was so inspiring to see him and hear him talk as he dropped the sheet covering the plaque to reveal something that is wonderful, and will be enjoyed by the entire community for all time moving forward.

Cowichan Station School - 100 Year Reunion - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – 100 Year Reunion – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Cowichan Station School - 100 Year Reunion - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – 100 Year Reunion – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Cowichan Station School - 100 Year Reunion - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – 100 Year Reunion – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Cowichan Station School - 100 Year Reunion - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – 100 Year Reunion – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Cowichan Station School - 100 Year Reunion - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – 100 Year Reunion – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

As the day unfolded, the gym was constantly full of chatter and laughter as people made their way around to take in the displays and photographs, and to talk to friends and strangers alike.  This is the pure definition of community, in our minds, and in many ways made the whole day feel like we had stepped back in time to a simpler era where people reached out to each other and enjoyed sharing time and stories together.  It was a wonderful experience to witness and take in, and the entire day was full of heartwarming moments to cherish.

Cowichan Station School - 100 Year Reunion - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – 100 Year Reunion – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Cowichan Station School - 100 Year Reunion - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – 100 Year Reunion – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Even though it was damp and slightly dreary outside with occasional bouts of rain, this certainly didn’t stop the outdoor enthusiasts from enjoying the ambiance of the Cowichan Station community and surroundings.

Cowichan Station School - 100 Year Reunion - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – 100 Year Reunion – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Cowichan Station School - 100 Year Reunion - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – 100 Year Reunion – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Just around the side of the school, in front of the annex, a garden/flower sale was going in.  Hosted by some of the friendliest folks you’d ever have the pleasure to meet, the sale was a roaring success even considering the effects of the weather on the day.  Getting the people who were running the sale to smile was an easy endeavor, and their smiles were wholly indicative of the entire feel of the celebration at hand.

Cowichan Station School - 100 Year Reunion - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – 100 Year Reunion – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Cowichan Station School - 100 Year Reunion - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – 100 Year Reunion – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Cowichan Station School - 100 Year Reunion - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – 100 Year Reunion – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Cowichan Station School - 100 Year Reunion - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – 100 Year Reunion – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Back inside it was time to cut the ceremonial cake.  Annabelle Thorne, a former student, teacher and principal of the school, was on had to perform the cake cutting duties.  At one point I was lucky enough to have a few moments to just chat with her, and found her to be an absolute delight.  This bridging of generations was a fabulous addition to the overall event, helping to make it that much more meaningful.

Cowichan Station School - 100 Year Reunion - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – 100 Year Reunion – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Cowichan Station School - 100 Year Reunion - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – 100 Year Reunion – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Cowichan Station School - 100 Year Reunion - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – 100 Year Reunion – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

The final scheduled event for the day was the filling of the Time Capsule, intended to be opened in 2039 roughly 25 years from now.  Ken Hemstock, another of the original alumni of the school, was here to facilitate the loading and locking of the capsule.  That was a lot of fun, seeing all the items that were going into the capsule and wondering about what everyone in the future would think of these items upon opening it.

Cowichan Station School - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Cowichan Station School - 100 Year Reunion - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – 100 Year Reunion – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

What a difference a few years and some incredible community spirit can make.  When we first visited the school in 2011, we discovered a playground haunted by the little ones who used to spend countless hours on the slide and swings.  Today we find an entirely different scene.  Colorful toys are now found everywhere and the playground is alive with the sounds of children once again enjoying the wonder of playing outdoors.  The feeling we had was rather profound; that distinct realization that when people come together in a common cause no mountain is too large to move.

Cowichan Station School - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Cowichan Station School - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Cowichan Station School - 100 Year Reunion - Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Cowichan Station School – 100 Year Reunion – Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Our final note of interest in this story was discovered on our tour with Gord Iversen who is a very active member of the community, an avid photographer, and a special friend.  As we toured the basement, we came across the room that houses all the state-of-the-art plumbing and machinery for the ultra-contemporary geothermal heating and cooling system.  What a dichotomy it was to see this in comparison to the scene we encountered 3 years before in the same room.  The original system was referred to as “the octopus” as it had wires and hoses aplenty leading to and from it.  The modern incarnation is a marvel in both technology and design, and when you consider the incredible effort and work that went into its design and implementation it really leaves you inspired.

It’s really amazing to see the vast differences in the facility that have transpired over a rather short period of time.  When considering all this in context with all the exciting plans in store for this wonderful old schoolhouse, it’s now easy to see a bright future for it as a stalwart part of the community.  So many of the buildings we visit over time are torn down for various reasons; some financial, some personal.  We just can’t tell you how wonderful it is to see a community like Cowichan Station come together in such a cohesive manner to affect change.

This change will be felt for decades to come as future generations return time and time again to the Cowichan Station HUB to both enjoy the facility itself, and to create a living bridge between our past and our future.

To see the entire catalog of photographs from the event, please visit our gallery “Cowichan Station 100 Year School Reunion“.