Home Is Where You Hang Your Hat

Posted: 10th April 2013 by ToadHollowPhoto in Photography
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Our first love for photography here on Vancouver Island has to be the homes that dot our landscapes.  Whether they are new, modern structures, or old, weathered and character-rich homes, they are all of interest.  In particular the older homes really tell a story, we find, one that is so quintessentially Vancouver Island.  Join us today as we explore some classic Canadian architecture.

Classic Canadian Home - Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Classic Canadian Home – Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

On a cold and rainy day here recently, Mrs. Toad and I headed up island for a bit of a break together.  We just love to explore this island together, with one of our favorite past-times being getting rather lost.  You just never know what you might find on the back-roads of the island here, and each time we do we uncover another treasure that sparks an entire adventure.

This photograph was actually taken on one of our main roads.  It’s a shot that has been bugging me for several years now as we pass this house quite frequently.  I have no clue if it’s currently inhabited, or what the future holds for it.  This usually causes a sense of urgency to capture the images before the scene disappears forever, which seems to be happening around here a lot at an alarming rate.

Each of us leaves an indelible print on places we’ve lived.  We’ve all seen the height markers carved into the frames of doorways in houses, with dates and names denoting certain milestones in children’s lives as they grow.  We’ve all seen strange marks on walls that leave us wondering about why they were made and who created them.  These little clues are all permanent symbols of a life once lived in this spot, and in many cases they also carry a little of the energy of those who made them.

Homes like this are found everywhere on Vancouver Island.  This one appears to have been added onto, perhaps more than once.  Very few actual straight lines exist, yet this all helps to create the rich character of both the home itself, and the island it calls home.

Classic Canadian Home - Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Classic Canadian Home – Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

More rich textures are to be found here, with a small and comfortable island home painted in typical island colors.  Tin roofs are really the only roofing materials available here that have any chance of long-term sustainability.  Any other materials find themselves deteriorating pretty quickly due to the constant damp and the typical temperatures we tend to see here.  This picture captures a little of this with a home that is built of wood with a tin hat firmly affixed to it’s head with the hopes that this will help maintain the house for many years to come.  Whether Mother Nature wins this battle or the homeowners do, this is a battle that hasn’t seen its last chapter yet penned.

Classic Canadian Home - Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Classic Canadian Home – Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Some see weathering, others see character.  Canadians tend to love the land we call home, and we love to envelope ourselves in it.  A small sense of comfort and security against the elements and the outside world are found in our refuges, and even though some of our homes are decorated by intense weathering from the years, this actually adds an element of familiarity, and thus comfort.

We find it’s very important to document as much of this as we can right now as it seems our landscapes are transforming very quickly in front of our eyes.  Too many times we’ve thought to return to a place to grab some photographs only to find a pit with some construction vehicles parked where once someone’s home was.  Through the consolidation of these images in a portfolio, we are able to see a broader view of what life is like here.  As a whole, the collection tells a story.  A distinctly Canadian story.

Thank you so much for your kind visit 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!  Until next time.

  1. An interesting selection of homes. So totally different from anywhere I have lived. It is this difference that makes a place unique and gives it its character. Long may you document and share these with us, Toad.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      I am blown away by your terrific comments today, Mark, how can we even begin to thank you my friend? Much appreciated.

  2. avatar LensScaper says:

    Interesting how many homes out your way are single-storey dwellings. Any reason for that Particularly? These all have character – I guess many folk lived very solitary existences in times gone by.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      You know, Andy, you pose a fine question there. I suspect it was primarily due to the times many of these places were designed. Simpler times, many folks opted for smaller homes due to easier to heat and maintain and such. I grew up in a house in Edmonton that was about 1,400 square feet in total (built brand new for us before we moved in) and I can say I never felt cramped or like I was missing something. Many of the new construction homes these days out here are multi-story units now. This gives me an idea; I really need to capture some of the new architecture around here, it actually is part of the character of the island even though on a personal level we much prefer the older ones with tons of history and a story. Many kind thanks for popping on by today, Andy, it’s always a highlight for us when you come to see us!

    • avatar ehpem says:

      Andy, I think part of the answer lies in the amount of space there is here. In the cities houses are now usually multiple story (well two story anyway), but in the more rural areas they are, or were, often one story unless there is a view to catch. Where I live, the house footprint is only allowed to be a certain percentage of the lot area, but the allowable square footage of the house is quite a bit more, which means that houses are encouraged to go up and required to leave some green space around them.

      • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

        I totally agree with these comments, and I also think in some cases it’s the rural aspect of things and when the house was designed and built. Back then these kind of places here on the Island were rather normal as far as I have learned…

  3. Hi Toad — You know I saw these images a few days ago and was in such a rush I just blew by. Not good. The thing that disturbs me is how my mind kept wandering back to a snap shot in my mind of your photograph even though I only saw it for a brief moment. That is the power of a “Toad Hollow” photograph I suppose.

    So, I came back. What I see is a lovely set of homes that seem to capture the mind about who lived in these homes. They are so simple, yet there is a lasting beauty. There is a story.

    I just love the richness in your images. Your HDR work is outstanding. I will continue to follow and stay connected. I believe I might make a real friend here.


    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Hi Spencer!!! What fabulous, fabulous comments my friend, there’s no way I can thank you enough! I feel the same about you and your work, too. Really enjoy following your blog along and checking out your shots. Your wonderful comments here today really mean a lot to Mrs. Toad and I, we just cannot thank you enough for visiting and leaving these for us to enjoy. I, too, am quite certain that we will become lifelong friends, Spencer!! Are you ever up on Vancouver Island? We haven’t been to the Seattle area in quite some time ourselves. Would love a chance to get together at some point!! Anyways, thank you again for your kind, kind note, and all your support and encouragement!

  4. Your essay puts my sentiments about the subject into words very nicely Mr Toad. The photographs set me to thinking which ones of these homes are from before WWII (I’d say the first one). This in turn made me realize that, to a photographer with this interest, all of the twentieth century building is now of historic value. At any rate the Photos are sooo Canada, they are quite beautiful.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      What wonderful comments, Joseph, thank you from the bottom of our heart! I am so happy to see that you share our vision for this particular work, it’s really something we love here on the island and being able to capture and share a little of this is a real joy for us. Thank you so much for your kind visit today, my good good friend!

  5. I like these images a lot, and I’m very glad you are documenting such details of our local history and culture.

  6. Love the first one, all are so interesting

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      That’s just so wonderful of you to say, Mike, thank you so much for taking the time to come see us and for leaving these really great comments!

  7. avatar Len Saltiel says:

    Love that first shot Toad. I love your explorations and documentation of your lovely island home.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you so, so, so much Len, that means way more than we can properly say! You, sir, are a scholar and a gentleman.

  8. Gorgeous views. They are a little different in style than what we have here in AZ.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks, Chris! I think that’s one of the reasons we enjoy sharing these so much with everyone; it is a little different and unique here on Vancouver Island that’s for sure! Many thanks for taking the time to visit and comment today, my friend!

  9. avatar ehpem says:

    Nice set here – it feels so much like home. I live in a 40’s bungalow as well, with an addition. It is however crammed on a small lot and lacks the character that these ones have. These really are so typical of this area and period, you have done a great job of giving us a glimpse into a way of life that is disappearing now. What I can’t get my mind around is how people managed to live and raise many children in these small houses. Different times and different values and a lot less ‘stuff’ to share space with the occupants.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Fabulous thoughts here, my friend! You know, I saw a show on HGTV the other day and the mother of the family was saying they had 2 kids and they lived in a 1400 square foot house with one bathroom. Apparently, they needed many, many more bathrooms to even survive. I totally get modern conveniences these days, but I do also feel we sometimes take them for granted. The house I grew up in was… guess what… 1400 square feet with one bathroom, and I somehow (against the odds) managed to survive this far. 🙂