I've always been interested in old buildings, especially barns and farmhouses. Over the past 40 years of photography, these continue to be some of my favorite subjects to capture.
When I was a youngster in Winnipeg Manitoba, my family would often visit friends on their farms in Northern Ontario. Hay season meant spending many hours behind a bailer throwing the bails up into the wagon, and then getting them up into the loft. When the work was complete often the first place we would head to was the hay loft, making forts and tunnels out of the bails. It was our place to hang out and have fun. Tending the animals, the gardens, and working with the machinery of farming left a big impression on me that would manifest itself in later years.
Since moving to the small city of Chilliwack, British Columbia, I became interested in the fascinating history of this, the third oldest community in the province. From First Nations culture and the pioneers, to mining, logging, and the gold rush, Chilliwack has so many stories to tell that several movies and documentaries could be made about it all. It is my desire to share these stories with others, create opportunities for dialog, and to capture images and memories of what still remains of it all.
CHILLIWACK HERITAGE PHOTO PROJECT
My interest in preserving old buildings and barns with professional photographs led me to creating The Chilliwack Heritage Photo Project. Heritage buildings and barns in my local area are photographed at no cost to the owners with images donated to them and the local archives for the benefit of future generations. There are over 200 old barns and hundreds of heritage homes within just a 30 minute drive from my home. Plenty of inventory to keep me busy for some time.
As a guest speaker to local groups I’ve gained interest in the project through many stories and photographs. Major newspapers and local news outlets have reported on it as well. This has given me credibility with land owners, and allowing me unprecedented access to some amazing old buildings and barns.
Many of the buildings I’ve photographed are no longer standing due to decay, fire damage, or development. This make it especially important that the project preserve whatever is left of our local heritage buildings, in particular for the ones most at risk of vanishing soon due to advanced decay or planned development.
While researching locations to photograph for the project I have gained a fair bit of historical knowledge of our city.
Another aspect of this project is to document the locations of the history and heritage of the area. I've always had an interest in mapping and so have created a Google Map of the old barns, history and heritage of Chilliwack.
OUR CHILLIWACK HERITAGE FACEBOOK GROUP
To channel all of this and to gain even more knowledge I created a local Facebook Group called Our Chilliwack Heritage. Chilliwack is rich in history and many of the original settler family members still live here. Their stories and photographs have created a unique community where they are once again discovering lost family and friends.
This Group’s purpose is to promote all matters related to the heritage of the City of Chilliwack. Those who live here, or have previously, possess photos, memorabilia, antiques, and buildings that together tell the story of our historic community. We believe this treasure trove of history should be shared for the benefit of Chilliwack heritage enthusiasts, and this Group is the place to share those memories.
CHILLIWACK HERITAGE FESTIVAL
While gathering information from landowners, seniors, and historians, it made me realize that we had no outlet to celebrate our history and heritage. So with a group of like minded history buffs I created the not for profit Chilliwack Heritage Festival Society. We had started planning a yearly event for the fall of 2020, and while that had to be put on hold for obvious reasons, we were not about to throw away the many hours already spent organizing it. The plan is to now launch the festival in June of 2023. Check out the website here.
OLD BARNS CANADA FACEBOOK GROUP
The Old Barns Canada Facebook group was created for positive discussion and education of Canadian heritage barns. It is also where you can find out about old Canadian barn related services and products.
For education purposes, posting links to websites, articles, books, documents, photos, artwork, video, social media posts, and any other media type that are related to old Canadian barns and farms are highly encouraged.
Regular contributions from photographers across Canada show the beauty of these old barns from the ones that are now gone forever, the ones that are nearly gone, and the ones that still stand proud. There have been thousands of photos submitted to this Facebook Group and every one of them is a treasure.
The Sunday Source is a weekly feature post of news articles about old barns, preservation techniques and groups that are interested in keeping these icons of our past alive. Wheelie Wednesday showcases the many forms of farm machinery and vehicle wheels that are normally forgotten relics of the past but are seemingly endless compositions for the hundreds of photographers who contribute to this group on a regular basis. Farmhouse Fridays features the many old homes that are either abandoned or still inhabited alongside the old barns of Canada.