When you think of the words “old” and “charm” do you think of Vancouver Island? Not many people do, to be honest. We’re located on the very westerly coast of Canada, with the next stop from here being basically Russia and China off our shores. The west coast of Canada has only been colonized for a little over 150 years, so our history doesn’t run thousands of years deep as it does in many places in Europe and in the far east. Yet, we do have our own history, and with it our own character and flavor. Living on the coast of an active rainforest plays havoc on wood structures over time, and this havoc translates to weathering that creates distinctly west coast scenes. One of our favorite types of scenes features weather stressed barns and outbuildings, and can always be found on a Vancouver Island farm.
Traveling the many backroads of the island reveals the character of Vancouver Island in a perfect frame. Structures built by hand over time experience the weathering and ravages of slow decay, and it is not unusual to come across a building that looks like it may be in danger of literally tipping over. Nary a straight line is to be found anywhere, and the wood cladding reveals textures and tones that cannot be created purposefully. How old is this building, and how was it used? There is little doubt it is still in use today. Although it may appear somewhat rickety from the outside, it is likely still quite solid in its footprint, and will likely still be here in years to come.
Coming around to the other side of the barn, a whole new face comes to life. The foundation looks to be an afterthought, but once again we believe that it can still stand the test of time. Window frames are crooked, and the glass is covered in a light coating of dirt from time, creating a natural diffusion effect for those who spend their days inside. And who wouldn’t love a chance to see inside? I know we sure would.
Is this a garage? An initial look would lead you to believe so. But closer inspection shows no path or road leading to it. Perhaps once it was a garage for the family’s car, but today it looks to be actively used as an outbuilding intended for storage. This building appears to be fighting the ongoing effects of gravity as time and relentless rains slowly begin to return it to the earth it came from. At a glance it leaves us feeling as if it fights nature and physics, standing almost in defiance of natural cause and effect.
As we travel deeper down our backroads we find a farm with a meticulous area that looks to define a paddock. A lone red building with no glass stands, covered in thick, lush moss. The effects of moss on our roofs here on the island are well-known to be harbingers of doom for our buildings, leaving island-dwellers in a constant fight between the damp conditions of our rainforest versus our desire to have structures to shelter people, animals and things in a tidy universe we believe we control.
This photograph remains one of my personal favorite barn shots. It contains all the “barny goodness” you could expect in a rural themed image, including the lack of straight lines and the red colored exterior. The burst of color as the sun was creeping up over the horizon added a great touch to this shot that was captured one early morning in the middle of winter. We don’t see a lot of snow here on lower Vancouver Island, so scenes like this don’t present themselves very often and the avid photographer needs to get themselves out of bed before the rooster crows if you want to capture this while it exists. It’s an elusive beast, sort of like the proverbial unicorn.
We have featured this shot before in our post “The Red Barn” at the time the image was published and added to our Limited Edition Catalog so feel free to pop on over there if you’d like to read that post.
Johnny Carson said:
“I was so naive as a kid I used to sneak behind the barn and do nothing.”
Walter Scott said:
“If a farmer fills his barn with grain, he gets mice. If he leaves it empty, he gets actors.”
Well, that’s it for today folks! I’ve got a barn to hunt, so I’m off!
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