Sunset on the first day of 2015 at the newly renovated Davis Bay Pier in Sechelt BC.
The view from The Lighthouse Pub
He also wrote about his time in Powell River on the Reuters Photographers Blog.
Truly amazing what happens when you scratch the surface and look at the history of a community. I was just happy to help get this little gem of a theatre some much deserved recognition and hope it has many more years of opening nights and afternoon matinees.
Dear Roman Mars
You would love the Powell River Townsite.
Ever since the Concrete Furniture episode I have been a faithful listener of 99 percent invisible. It was in your podcasts that I learn about your Read The Plaque mantra along with Secret Staircases and loved every episode before, after and in between.
See Roman I am a lover of quirky info. My curiosity is only second to my love of photography. So when Wikimedia Commons had their photograph a monument drive in September I though hey let’s look around and find what’s available.
There was nothing on the lower Sunshine Coast which is Sechelt, Gibsons and Pender Harbour, but there was in the upper Sunshine Coast ; the historic townsite of Powell River and it had not been photographed for the project for the commons.
Then Joel showed up…
Then Joel showed up. Who is Joel? He is my best friend and the guy who taught me about photography. He just moved back to Sechelt after 6 years in China.
I called Joel and said, “Want to go to photograph old building in Powell River for Wikipedia?”
In more words then less Joel said sure why not… He had not been there in years and we haven’t gone out shooting together in more then 10 years.
We researched about the Historic Townsite, got up early and hit the road.
We arrived at the Powell River Townsite and parked at the The Old Courthouse Inn had a awesome breakfast at the Edie Rae’s Cafe. We met the owners Kelly Belanger and JP Brosseau who as it turned out were having breakfast right beside us.
They gave us the historical walking tour pamphlet provided by the Townsite Heritage Society of Powell River.
What we found through our walking tour was just short of amazing and I barely knew the history of something in my own backyard.
What I really liked about the Townsite of Powell River was how much of the town was in one way or another connected to an architectural ideas presented on 99 Percent Invisible.
1. The floating ships that comprised the breakwater of the mill were originally world war one and world war two era concrete ships reminded me of the Razzle Dazzle (Episode 65). (although not painted as such) These type of concrete ships were made as such for the easy construction although they were heavy and not economical after the war effort to operate.
2. The towns preplanned layout has a number of housing designs for couples, family’s and the single mill worker and yet not a single Cul de Sac (Episode 29) was included in the design.
3. The Hand Painted Signs (Episode 74) of Patricia Theatre and the hand painted utility box covers. You just don’t see that much quality put into a utility box anymore something that Parks Canada noted on his visit and was pointed out to us on our tour of the theatre.
4. As we were walking down the hill from towards the mill. We came across a Secret Staircase ( Episode 75 ). I immediately stopped and said to Joel. I heard of these before. Roman talked about pathways and staircases between properties. This one of course was a shortcut to the paper mill. But it had all the hallmarks of a secret staircase built (I am sure) with the rest of the town in the 1930’s.
5. The plaques and signs They are everywhere! The Townsite Heritage Society of Powell River has really done a great job on signs plaques and overall history of the townsite. So I implore you to Read the Plaque. Or better yet take a picture of it and submit it to the Read The Plaque website a collaboration between Roman Mars and Alexis Madrigal.
Every building a new story
Every turn we took we encountered an new building and a new story behind it. The old Bank of Montreal building that is now an art studio called Studio 56.
The most fun we had was at Townsite Brewery which was originally build as the post office and customs house for the community. It has a beautiful brick art deco patterns and because of the brick and steel construction was the perfect location to house a craft brewery. Also they make amazingly well crafted beer.
So… You should really check out the Powell River Historic Townsite if you ever have the chance Roman.
Faithful listen and season 3 support of 99% invisible.
Epilogue: The larger picture
Although I knew Wiki Loves Monuments was happening world wide I never really thought about all the other people uploading photos. I just thought this would be something nice to do in my neck of the woods with a photo buddy I haven’t seen in a very long time. But viewing the stats for the month was impressive.
Worldwide Stats for the monument:
- 369589 files by 11943 uploaders
- 53 countries over the course of the month.
- 2556 photos by 226 uploaders
- Ranked 32 in the number of uploads per country.*
*Although quantity doesn’t always equal quality in my mind
It was great to participate in such a worldwide altruistic movement. It was also great to enjoy a day in the sun exploring a part of the Sunshine Coast I knew very little about with a friend I hadn’t seen in years!
Update! Google has fixed the location of Sechelt after Rebecca Bollwitt posted the problem and 40-ish retweeters! Thanks to all who helped out! It took Social Media one day to fix what a community has tried to do for over a year!
Thanks to Rebecca Mrs. 604 for writing this article on putting Sechelt back on the map.
I was first told about this Google Map mishap at WordCamp last week. Local web designer Robert Dall explained that over the last few years members of the community have tried pretty much everything to get their town listed. These efforts include hundreds of people reporting the issue to Google, tweeting about it @GoogleMaps on Twitter, and the Mayor of Sechelt, Darren Inkster, has even written an official letter to Google – all to no avail.
You can help out the cause by tweeting @GoogleMaps with the tag #PutSecheltOnTheMap And hopefully we can get Sechelt, BC put back where it belongs.
Since that memorable, hectic, time, I’ve said a sad goodbye to East Vancouver and Commercial Drive, one of the great little neighbourhoods in Canada. I met phenomenal people there, friends and neighbours with whom I shared ideas and initiated collaborations.
Pondering how to turn an economic downturn into a personal upturn, I moved back to the Sunshine Coast. I applied for and was accepted into the Aspire Program, which will help me shape my experiences with web design, marketing, art direction and photography into my own business.
There is trepidation, as the path chosen comes with a steep learning curve; but no one ever promised it would be easy. I’m comforted by the security of living at home as well as this program’s 15 years of proven success. Knowing the number of graduates still operating their businesses, and learning of the program’s reputation among coastal residents, I know I’ve made the right choice, and I’ll be launching my business come this late November.
There is a beast on the coast, it haunts all residents, it is a necessary evil but yet to most it is our livelihood. It is big and white and travels Howe Sound and it doesn’t like to be messed with.
If you haven’t already guessed I am talking about the Queen of Surrey and our tragic relationship with BC Ferries.
First the Facts
Queen of Surrey using a C-Class ferry which can carry some 362 cars and over 1,500 passengers. The Surrey is Cowichan Class and was put into service in 1981 It and the Queen of Oak Bay were the last two of the C-Class build in North Vancouver. Other then some help over the summer from the Queen of Coquitlam it is the only boat the runs on route 3 which travels between Langdale and Horseshoe Bay. The ship provides bi-hourly service, with a route of 9.7 nautical miles taking approximately 40 minutes to making the crossing.
The Sunshine Coast has been serviced by ferries since it’s inception as a community. With a number of vessels making the route. One vessel of particular note was the Sunshine Coast Queen nicknamed Suzy Q. After the Suzy Q was retired in 1976 the coast was serviced by two double-ended Ferries that would travel back and forth. A decision was made in the early 80’s to switch to one larger C-Class ferry that was larger faster and could handle all of the traffic. But the trade-off was it would only run every two hours.
And from what I can recall (I was quite young at the time) There was a lot of grumbling and discontent that the frequency of ferry service was decreasing. But BC Ferries vowed that this would be cheaper to operate with the same amount of traffic.
Other improvements were included a new ramp for loading the 3rd car deck at the Langdale terminal and a new gantry at Horseshoe Bay to allow walk-on passengers to board directly on to the passenger area of the vessel. Both of these decreased the loading time of the vessel.
The Langdale Terminal also got a new parking lot, drop off area, coffee shop and bus stop, along with a new layout at the Langdale Terminal to adjust for increasing capacity.
The Black sheep of the Mainland Routes
There were always trade-offs in this smaller route. For example, we don’t have traffic that the island routes do. But we also don’t have the weather storm delays or volume delays of the island routes either. The Howe Sound route is claimer then crossing the Strait of Georgia and when other sailings were cancelled the Langdale route was still running. So when I was a kid I would always see these huge lineups for the Nanaimo route and be glad it wasn’t our route.
But and it is a big but… like a little brother or sister we always got the discards from the larger route. When the ferry was refit we were the last to get it, They would take our boat give it a refit and then it would sail the Nanaimo route. We always grumbled about this but other than a nicer boat for better for worse it still relatively decent service.
Coast, not the secret it use to be
Once I was a teenager the coast had its own transit bus and there was something called the commuter who would work in Vancouver and travel by ferry to the Coast. A lot of people said it was more enjoyable than being stuck in a traffic jam. But with that came added traffic to the coast and the ferry. These commuters would leave for the 6:20am ferry arriving for work at 8:30am in Vancouver and then return on the 5:30pm ferry getting you back into Sechelt around 7:00pm. And a lot of people start to do this. Living in Gibsons was a lot easier then further up the coast. But I knew people in Halfmoon Bay who would do this 4 to 5 days a week. Again this only worked when the ferry ran on time and for a time it did. But commuting via ferry was never for me. I don’t think it ever will be.
The Summer hit the coast and all hands are on deck for the busy season, And much like the rest of the coast you can feel the increased traffic and give BC Ferries some credit service has certainly increased during the summer months adding another C-class vessel.
But it is here that lies the problem in my opinion
With every two hour service and a crossing time of forty minutes. You only have 10 minutes on either side to load/unload and leave for the other side. But this only works when the boat is 2/3rds full. The time it takes to stuff the boat will always leave the boat running late.
(You can usually see this on the Saturday 8:20 ferry) But the boat can usually catch up on the next run. (As of 2016 if there is only one boat on the route it is usually running late.)
Problem number one: We have enough traffic to constantly make only one ferry late and but not enough to need a second ferry of duplicate size and capacity. (eg. Queen of Coquitlam or variation of that)
Problem number two: We only have one big boat, there is no robustness or scalability to any issue we might have. So, for example, a dock problem = delays, 50 extra cars? = delays, Anything out of the ordinary traffic = Delays. And unlike years gone past it is getting increasing hard to keep this demanding schedule.
Problem number three: Regardless of the boat on the langdale route. If there is more then half the boat full it’s most likely running late.
When the Queen of Surrey was in dry dock for most of the summer as it had broken down a number of time in the early summer the Queen of Coquitlam took over and it couldn’t keep pace with the schedule and yet is the same class and size of boat with a slightly different layout and been put into service 5 years previous. The only thing I can see from this is that if the Queen of Surrey can barely keep up with the demanding schedule it is beyond the scope of a boat five years older.
Problem number four: Except for the MV Skeena Queen and MV Island Sky who have dedicated routes. Every other mid-sized ferry was built before the 1980’s with high maintenance cost and antiquated technology on the boats. (This was originally written 2010 btw)
I don’t doubt BC Ferries has known this for years and I don’t doubt the complexity of the problem with a route that has reached traffic capacity. But the current setup just isn’t working and it is troubling.
But that is the biggest concern I have, is that this little route isn’t little anymore and makes quite the profit for the ferries and yet I constantly feel like a second-class citizen who’s opinions don’t matter in the eyes of the Ferry Corp. I now try to avoid any conversation with BC Ferries employees as they aren’t in the customer service business.
A high school friend named Jana Curll looked me up to do some photo reproduction of her art work.
Loosing contact as one does I never knew she was such an artist back in high school. Her work is amazing.
I on the other hand had to pull out the old Camera Gear and jury-rig up a studio in the living room to capture her work. It was the first time I had really shot something in over a year. It was fun to get back into the photo groove if only for a morning.
She is having a show at the Gumboot Garden Cafe for the month of July. I’d certainly check it out.
I didn’t really start feeling old until I realized that it was Elphiphstone Secondary Grad Night and both myself and Jana graduated in the same gym some 15 years ago.
This is when I really started to feel old. Lucky Dan showed up. I asked if we could jet, before I break a hip and my false teeth fall out.
On the way home I felt the entire day from start to finish was comprised of my past and how easily you are reminded of it.