Is is often said that it takes a village to raise a child.  In this case it took some very special children to create a village.  The stories found in this wonderful Vancouver Island community are varied, with some being sad while others were very happy.  Life on Fairbridge Farm couldn’t have been easy, thousands of miles away from home in a new land.  But through it all we find stories of love and inspiration, and it’s this indelible sense that draws the community together so tightly, and as such draws us into the story.

We’re happy to launch a new photoblog series in this post, “The Children of Fairbridge“, where we share the photographs of the community by highlighting some of the terrific architecture and details.  We’re also going to delve a little into the story behind this place, one that we found last year quite by accident, and one we’ve been looking so forward to sharing with everyone.

Fairbridge Chapel - Cowichan Station, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Fairbridge Chapel – Cowichan Station, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Our love of Vancouver Island and it’s character is something well-known to those who follow us regularly.  We find intricate beauty in the unique and distinct architecture that makes up the communities of the island.  Colonial settlements were only established in the last 150 years or so, making our history rich but not terribly old.  But, there’s no mistaking the style and feel that has gone into the design of many of our buildings.  It’s quintessentially west coast and distinctly Canadian.

This inaugural post of our new series is just going to take a brief look at Fairbridge Chapel.  Subsequent posts will find us exploring the architectural details of the chapel, the schoolhouse and some of the homes and buildings in the community.  For those who are wondering if we had a chance to get inside to photograph, I can honestly say yes!  We’ve come away with an amazing series of images featuring the main chapel with all of its incredible woodwork, paneling and intricate details.  That’s just the beginning; we were also invited up into the clock tower itself to shoot the workings and mechanics that go into keeping a classic time-piece like this ticking for all these years.

Fairbridge Chapel - Cowichan Station, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Fairbridge Chapel – Cowichan Station, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Tight, steep stairs lead you up and up and up into the heart of the clock tower where we find this scene.  There is an incredible story behind this clock, one that we’ll be sharing in an upcoming post that will also feature several more close-ups of the clock mechanism and the tower bell, seen here.

History is amazing to us.  The imprints of everyone who came before us is almost tangible if we are open to it, and visiting the Fairbridge community definitely leaves you with a strong emotional sense of a connection.  The ghosts of the children who grew up here, far, far away from their homelands can be felt everywhere.  At times as you stand, taking it all in, the silence grows to a point where it almost becomes deafening.  Through this silence the voices of all who called this place home can still be felt resonating, and with them we begin a wonderful new adventure together.

I’m quite sure we’ll be visiting Fairbridge over the course of the summer for follow-up shoots.  We’ve only just begun to scratch the surface in regards to the history and stories that create the fabric of this community and we’re very excited to share this all with you.  Stay tuned over the coming weeks as we roll out the extensive collection of photographs taken so far and weave a story that is truly amazing.

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 or thoughts you may have.


Fairbridge Canada Association

Fairbridge Chapel: Designated Heritage Site (timeline)

Far From Home On Fairbridge Farm

Google Books: If More Walls Could Talk – Fairbridge Farm

  1. It’s interesting to hear of a community on Vancouver Island that I (as a life-long islander) have never even heard of! Love that clock tower image, and look forward to seeing & learning more.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks so much, Laurie, we really appreciate both your kind visit and your terrific comments here today!

  2. I simple love the heart and soul of your images and the deep rooted community that run through the words of this post.

    You see… anyone can point a camera and shoot a picture. Some even pretty good at it these days, but the true grist of an artist is the love that spills forth about what you are pointing your camera toward. In this case it is pointed at history, culture, and living relics from our past.

    I am intrigued by your second shot of the rich wood of this spot. Thank you for helping me reach beyond just a picture.


    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Spencer, your comments are always such a joy for us to find here on our blogs, thank you so very much for taking the time to pop by today, and for leaving these wonderful thoughts that I am sure everyone will enjoy. You really add a lot to our community here, and for that we thank you ever so much!

  3. avatar Len Saltiel says:

    Looking forward to this series Toad. Your documentation of your wonderful island is always a great read as well as great images. That clock image is killer.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks, Len, that means an awful lot to us here today! We sure do appreciate your kind visit and terrific comments!

  4. avatar Edith Levy says:

    This promises to be a wonderful series. Fairbridge looks and sounds wonderful. I love both images but the detail that you’ve brought out in the second image is fabulous.

  5. What a beautiful place Mr toad and I’m overjoyed to see you take it on as a project. I know one person who actually was there as a child. Haven’t seen him though for some time and hope he’s still with us. Friends of mine lived there in the seventies. I spent a lot of time there then. That was before the great fix up. Even then everything was in great shape. After this first posting here I look very much forward to more. As always brilliant photography.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      I just cannot tell you how much this means to us here, Joseph, thank you! We just love making direct connections like this with folks who have a personal connection to the places we tend to shoot. Thank you both for taking the time to visit, and for taking the time to leave us your terrific thoughts that I am sure everyone will enjoy!

  6. Looks like a real beautiful place! I can’t wait to see more of it. Great teaser images Toad!

  7. avatar ehpem says:

    Toad! I never heard of this place and have lived on the island for 45 years, and worked in the heritage field for 35 of them. I am really looking forward to this series. And that clock photo has wonderful detail with all that lovely fir grain surrounding the clock.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks so much Ehpem, we’re definitely planning several return trips over the summer so please stay tuned for those updates! Thank you for your kind visit here today, much appreciated!