Fall Rhapsody at the Willson Carbide Mill

Mary Anne and I made our way to the Willson Carbide Mill in Gatineau Park the other day. Neither of us had ever been there before but we figured we both had our iPhones, GPS and our beloved mutts with us. So despite the bear warnings we set off via Trail number 36. It was a beautiful fall day. The colours just somewhat past their prime and a bit cool but not too cold. At the end of the trail we were rewarded with the Thomas Willson ruins from the late 19th century. Willson (1860-1915) no relation, was a paranoid inventor who learned how to produce Calcium Carbide and set up his own home and mill near Meech Lake around 1911. To make a long story short a fortune was made and lost, he irritated his neighbours by artificially raising and lowering the water of Meech Lake during his experiments and he eventually died of a heart attack in 1915 on a street in New York city while seeking to raise venture capital for his next project.

Anyway, just over 100 years later it has become a popular destination for tourists and photographers. For myself, I found it a great opportunity to put my IBIS Fujifilm XH1 body to the test under trying conditions: bright sunlight, waterfalls, no 10 stop filter etc. For the waterfall images I used ISO 100, F22 and 1/2.5 second handheld. I was quite impressed with the results.

All images photographed with Fujifilm XH1 and XF16-55F2.8 and processed in Capture One 11

Fogo Island Inn

Undoubtedly one of the highlights of our trip to Newfoundland was our visit to Fogo Island.  I had heard about a new beautiful Inn that had been built by architect Todd Saunders and where an overnight stay begins at $800 (albeit that includes all your food and non-alcoholic beverages).  Not only that but he had been building these odd artist studios on the Island as well.   I couldn't understand why such an elaborate Inn with only 29 rooms would be built on a fishing island that hardly anyone knew anything about.  Anyway, something was drawing me there.  I had also heard from a friend that the people of Newfoundland are very friendly.   I discovered that the barren landscape and the buildings reminded me of Churchill, Manitoba - where I grew up.  

I remember as a child climbing on the rocks which bordered Hudson Bay and picking wild blueberries.  I remembered the wind which was ever present on Fogo Island and especially the evening where we attempted to hike Brimstone Head Trail which felt like 2,000 feet above sea level!   

There are only two ways to get to Fogo Island.  One is to charter a small airplane from Gander, Newfoundland and the other is take the Ferry at Farewell which may or may not be operating that day!  Lucky for us, we only had to wait 3 and a half hours to get on the boat.  It was well worth the wait though because the scenery is absolutely breathtaking and so is the Fogo Island Inn where we stopped for a tour and some lunch.  Following our visit to the Inn we visited Joe Batt's Arm and had the most amazing home-made Partridge-berry ice cream ever.  

The Shorefast Foundation, headed by Zita Cobb is who is behind the Fogo Island Inn and the Artist studios.  Their intention is to revitalize the economy by bringing tourists, artists and jobs.  They are committed to "finding new ways with old things".   Anyway, I'm a much better photographer than writer so I'll share some photos.   As they say "There are no strangers here, when you leave, you'll be leaving home."  

I can't wait to go back.



The new Ottawa Congress Centre

On Friday I was at the new Ottawa Congress Centre for the first time.  It was where this year's Tulip Ball was held and was there to photograph Ball guests for Hello Canada magazine.   It was impressive both in and out and I was glad that I brought along my super wide angle lens.  I still would like to go sometime with a tripod and really photograph the changing Ottawa skyline.  Perhaps when it get a bit warmer out.

In the meantime, here are some favorites.. 


Canadian Museum of Nature

Over the holidays we visited the Canadian Museum of Nature - a 100 year old "castle" that was recently renovated.    A 20 metre glass tower structure referred to as a 'Lantern' was added to the front of the building.  It was designed by Canadian architect Bruce Kuwabara.   It was really impressive and an excellent location to really try out my new Nikon 16-35 VR wide angle lens:)

Here are some favourites: