Wandering deep in the Wacky Woods, the sense of wonder began to take second seat to a sense of curiosity.  It seemed every corner that we passed led to yet another section of items and artifacts that were beyond imagination.  The message that George Sawchuk was trying to share with his audience became clearer and more abstract with each passing step.  The entire outdoor exhibit is a manifestation of dichotomy, and you leave a changed person with deeper insights into both your own being as well as the wider world around you.

We’re back at George Sawchuk’s Outdoor Art Exhibit in Fanny Bay, BC, Canada today, continuing our photoblog series “Two Toads in Wonderland” which highlights a wondrous experience and series of photographs from the adventure we had this day.

The Wacky Woods - Fanny Bay, BC, Canada

The Wacky Woods - Fanny Bay, BC, Canada

To fully appreciate the message that George was trying to share with his audience, you have to reach deep past the veneer that makes the initial impression.  As we approached George’s house, a clearing emerged and the amount of art seemed to increase in volume.  And meaning.

When we first encountered the Wrong Way sign here, it caused us to take pause.  Had we come too far?  Were we welcome here?  Standing in the silence of the forest, we could feel George spurring us on…  “there’s more to see here, come in!”

The Wacky Woods - Fanny Bay, BC, Canada

The Wacky Woods - Fanny Bay, BC, Canada

The Wacky Woods - Fanny Bay, BC, Canada

The Wacky Woods - Fanny Bay, BC, Canada

Since we’ve introduced this series, we’ve been contacted by several folks here on Vancouver Island who knew of this place and knew George well.  Each and every person talks about the welcome feeling they had when exploring George’s exhibit and how as you wandered about the place you could hear his music in his workshop…  beckoning you and driving you on.  You were always greeted with a smile and a kind word, and George was well-known to spend time with everyone sharing stories and his visions for his art.

As we stood in George’s backyard taking in all his features, the world suddenly came to life.  A dog barked nearby, and further sounds began to take on a melodic presence.  A toad began to croak.  Chickens were clucking.  And then more toads.  And more…  and more…  a symphony of nature had begun, and we had front-row seats!  The magic here is palpable, and George has touched this island and left behind a legacy that time will only strengthen.

The Wacky Woods - Fanny Bay, BC, Canada

The Wacky Woods - Fanny Bay, BC, Canada

This piece was a true highlight of our visit and really is one of our favorite pieces that George created.  I have to be honest here, I had to look at this one for a bit before the true nature of its message came through.  We have a head atop a wooden pole, and an old air pump from a gas station affixed to it.  Careful scrutiny reveals that there is a line leading from the air pump to the head…  this piece is the personification of an airhead!  You can literally feel George’s concept of modern-day living and how we felt that most of us wandered around the world with little idea as to what’s really going on around us.  Utterly profound.

The Wacky Woods - Fanny Bay, BC, Canada

The Wacky Woods - Fanny Bay, BC, Canada

If you’re not paying close attention, you can easily miss some of the exhibits here.  Some of the messages in the pieces are subtle and require some thought.  That, and being acutely aware of the immediate surroundings.

The Wacky Woods - Fanny Bay, BC, Canada

The Wacky Woods - Fanny Bay, BC, Canada

Some of the pieces are difficult to understand, but are no less profound.  We see a strong contrast between man-made tools and iron items, and the surrounding natural environs it lives in.  What do you see here?  What does it say to you?  This is all part of the highly personal experience one has in visiting this wonderful place.

The Wacky Woods - Fanny Bay, BC, Canada

The Wacky Woods - Fanny Bay, BC, Canada

First glance here reveals some obvious messages, but it’s the viewer who spends time absorbing the finer details that comes away with a deeper sense of the story behind the various pieces.  The obvious element of an iron wood stove with a frying pan and a big red rock cooking on it share something instantly, but look deeper here…  and you see a transfusion hooked up to a tree.  A lifeline for nature, if you will.  I couldn’t help but feel George’s pain for what we’ve done to the world we live in and how this is a statement of how we must be the ones to fix these problems.

The Wacky Woods - Fanny Bay, BC, Canada

The Wacky Woods - Fanny Bay, BC, Canada

I don’t think George thought much of Canada’s involvement in war.  These sorts of personal and controversial messages spark conversation and thought, and this is a healthy thing in a fast-paced and often negative world.  This merging of nature, wood carvings and various artifacts blend together to create an important message.  Perhaps through open talks about these issues can we find true world peace.

The Wacky Woods - Fanny Bay, BC, Canada

The Wacky Woods - Fanny Bay, BC, Canada

I really don’t know, please don’t ask.  Look closely, my friends, you will find humor in this piece.  There is a pair of golf balls hanging from a very specific place that really adds a bit of “je ne sais quoi”.  It did make us laugh, no doubt there.  I think that’s really one of the best bits about visiting the exhibit; that magical blending of politics, humor and environmental stewardship that only George Sawchuk could have brought to light.

The Wacky Woods - Fanny Bay, BC, Canada

The Wacky Woods - Fanny Bay, BC, Canada

Talk about a piece that makes you laugh and cry at the same time!

No!  I am not

coming back

for I did not

appreciate your

hospitality on

my previous visit.

How utterly profound is this?  No matter what your religious belief or conviction, this is a message that hits home almost immediately.  This is a true statement about how we all treat each other, and really leaves the viewer wondering about many deeper implications.

There is no way you can visit the Wacky Woods and leave the same person you were when you entered.  There is something here for everyone, something personal and utterly profound.

We still have a large collection of images to share with everyone from this adventure, so please do stay tuned.  We really appreciate your visit today, and as always we encourage all our visitors to leave us any comments you may have as we truly love to hear from everyone.




  1. avatar John S. Mead says:

    What a cool and quirky place! I really want visit this unique setting! It seems like a hugely fun spot!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      What a wonderful comment to leave for us, John, thank you so very kindly my good friend!

  2. Hi

    This is another fine example of the painstaking time you take to examine every location you venture to – hopefully one day we can join you in your adventures….well done!!!!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Oh my gosh, you guys, we’d be DELIGHTED!! Thanks so much Erik & Kathleen, your ongoing friendship and support here means much more than we can properly express. You guys are the best!!

  3. avatar Eden says:

    Cool DOF in the shot of the mailbox, Toad 🙂

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you so, so much Eden! We sure do appreciate your kindness & support here my friend!

  4. avatar LensScaper says:

    Something new in every sentence and every image. George was an extraordinary person. Fascinating. You had me worried though when you said ‘a toad began to croak’. For a moment I was worried about your health. Then I realized it was a different species. Phew!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      😀 HA! Sorry for the temporary concern we instilled Andy, but thank you so much for your kindness! You are a true friend, good sir, one of the best. Thanks from the bottom of our hearts for popping by today and leaving us your incredible comments.

  5. avatar Perry Bailey says:

    Great series, Toad. I’d not heard of George Sawchuk before but I’m looking forward to doing some research on him.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you so much Perry! You will be absolutely amazed when you look into George and his incredible work and vision. It was truly a sad day here this year when he passed away. Best wishes and many thanks my friend!!

  6. avatar Edith Levy says:

    You find the most amazing places to explore and photograph. Wonderful series Toad. I do love that “wrong way” sign.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks Edith, that means the world to us my friend!! We sure do appreciate you taking the time to pop by and leave us your comments for everyone to enjoy!

  7. Good story again, Mr Toad, and I love the photographs. When cruising through that part of the Island I certainly will make a stop there.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks Joseph! It really serves to remind us how many treasures we’ve got tucked away on this wondrous island we live on! Thanks for popping by today and leaving us your thoughts, my friend!

  8. Another wonderful piece my friend. I am wondering, when you first saw the wrong way sign, did it occur to you to turn your camera upside down? 🙂

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      No, I have to admit we did not, Mike! BUT, this does go to show how much we really need you to come up here and join us on these adventures so these important little details will no longer be overlooked!! 😀 You sir, are a scholar and a true gentleman. Thank you Mike.

  9. Terrific images with a wonderful narrative Toad. Thanks for sharing this incredible place with us.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      And many thanks to you, Steven, for taking the time to come by and see us, and for leaving us your absolutely wonderful comments!!

  10. avatar A.Barlow says:

    lmao, that “bull” sculpture is freaking funny! This is an awesome set man, loved it!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      HA! I KNEW you’d like that one, Aaron, thank you so much for all your encouragement and support, my friend!!

  11. This is an amazing tour of discovery with great photographs.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks ever so kindly, Joseph, that means so very much to us my friend!!

  12. avatar Rich McPeek says:

    Terrific post and photos my friend! Great work!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you, kind sir, your support and friendship here means a ton to us my friend! 🙂

  13. avatar Heather says:

    I have been waiting for another installment for this series! Worth the wait!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you ever so kindly, Heather, we really appreciate your wonderful support here!

  14. avatar Jim Nix says:

    you really dig deep into a scene my friend, and come back with so many awesome and interesting shots, well done sir!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you ever so kindly, Jim, your ongoing friendship & support means an awful lot to us!

  15. avatar Rick Louie says:

    Such a unique place and one that really makes your mind work to create a even more interesting journey. I love the DOF in your images today. It really sets off the subject for us viewers.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you so much for your visit today, Rick, and for these wonderful comments! That’s awfully kind of you to say here, my friend, we really appreciate you taking the time to leave these thoughts for us and everyone to read! 🙂

  16. I always enjoy interesting finds like this. Very nice set of images! And that last image is indeed very profound!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you Michael, being able to share these with everyone here and have it form a catalyst for discussion is so rewarding! Many thanks for your visit today, and for taking the time to leave us your comments!