We have just returned from a whirlwind tour of the northern parts of Vancouver Island, visiting three very remote communities in the short span of three days, traveling over 1,000 kilometers and seeing things that have left a permanent and profound impact on us. This experience will follow us all our lives. Along with a trip of this nature, we find ourselves with new memories that we hope to share here with you on our blog in the coming months. The sheer number of photographs we took far exceeds anything we’ve ever done before, and completing and managing such a large catalog is an undertaking in and of itself. But as with anything in life, you start at the beginning.
One of the best parts about the explorations that Mrs. Toad and I find ourselves on is how each and every adventure is absolutely unique. Expectations are always exceeded, and magic is found at nearly every corner. Such is life on the west coast of Canada. No two places are ever the same, and each is happy to share a little of the mystique that has created it with those who seek it.
During our visit to Alert Bay, which is a very short ferry ride from Port McNeill near the northern end of Vancouver Island, we were told by locals that the community is considered to be one of the oldest active communities in the area. Northern Vancouver Island, and the tiny islands that surround it, is home to kilometer upon kilometer of uninhabited forest, dotted with various communities as you travel the main roads. The further north you find yourself, the further the distance between communities.
This was our summer vacation, one we had been planning for many months. It was precipitated by our ongoing work on our “Anglican Church Project” as we were invited to visit both Port McNeill and Alert Bay to shoot the churches there. We knew it was going to be an exciting trip, but we had no idea how exciting it would be.
The picture above is a wonderful example of this. As we were working on photographing the church in the middle of a drizzly day on the west coast of Canada, Mrs. Toad kept a keen eye outside the church for anything of interest. We sure didn’t have to wait for long. Just as we began to shoot the church, I was beckoned outside and was greeted by the sight of two gorgeous Bald Eagles perched atop the remains of a fueling station from the times when the community was full of fisheries. At first glance, you may not notice the birds, but do take a closer look… atop the pier post in frame left you will find the first of the birds, and perched atop the red house is the second.
We hadn’t even been here for an hour, and the magic was unfolding right in front of our eyes.
Further down the main street of this tiny little town of roughly 1,200 inhabitants we found this old cannery. It quickly became something that captured my mind’s eye and my imagination, and we have many more pictures of it to share in the coming months from various perspectives, featuring a variety of vignettes that give it the wonderful and unique character it has.
My love for everything old and rusty has found a new home up here. We had originally planned on taking the 3:15 ferry back to Vancouver Island, but as the day mosied along it quickly became quite clear that there was no way we could maintain that schedule. We ended up staying until the 2nd to last ferry as the day began to fade, capturing so many photographs I can’t even fathom how long it will take us to post-process and complete them all for publication.
For those who are interested, here it the official website for the community of Alert Bay. We have no doubt that after reading all about it and seeing what it has to offer to those who are engaged and curious, you will be planning your own trip here. Everyone was so very friendly to us, we left feeling like we made dear lifelong friends with half the community’s population, a testament to life in a remote place in a tight-knit community. We have no doubt that if you were to visit yourself, you’d be left with many of the same feelings.
We have only barely begun to scratch the surface of this unbelievable trip. Please stay tuned to our humble blog here as we roll out features and photographs that tell the story of one of the most enchanting places on this tiny earth we all call home.
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 do feel free to leave us any comments you may have below.