An Artsy Kind of Trail

My friend Nigel and I headed up to explore the grounds at McMichael Gallery up in Kleinburg. I had never been to the grounds before and was looking forward to walking their trails.


One of the trails, located not too far away from the parking, is the Sculpture Garden. There are nine bronze sculptures along this short trail, donated by artist Ivan Eyre.

The Trail

After our short walk among the sculptures, we took the valley walking trail on the other side of the parking for a nice walk along the Humber Valley.

The Reflected Pane

The trail took us to the main entrance of the Gallery and then on to Tom Thomson’s shack. Tom Thomson was a Canadian painter and was an early inspiration for what became the Group of Seven.

A Visitor

Before heading back to the car, we took a break at a bench to enjoy a little bit of the day. As we chatted, a little bug decided to visit us. He hung out for quite a while, so we were able to snap a lot of photos of his journey from one side of the bench to the other. I like this photo of him with his large dark shadow following along.

The Shrieking Shack

I was visiting my friends, Brad & Tracey, for a Christmas celebration last night and on my way home this afternoon I decided to stop at a shack I discovered awhile ago. It’s my new favourite ruin up here in Grey County since the old house on highway 10 collapsed in a big storm. 

Old Shack

Old Shack

Abandoned sheds/homes/buildings have so much more character than newer ones. It has a history to it and figuring out its story is what makes it fun to revisit time and time again.

Old Country Road

Old Road

Before leaving Grey County I made one last stop at this old road. I don’t know where it leads.. Where do you think the road will take you?

A Moose Adventure

Our second day in Algonquin Provincial Park we decided to do the Mizzy Lake Trail. This trail is over 15km so we decided to spend our day on this trail which meant packing a lunch, water and some snacks to get us through the day.

MIzzy Lake Trail

Mizzy Lake Trail

We stopped at the Visitor’s Centre before starting our trek and noticed that there had been a couple moose sighting on Mizzy Lake trail. I was excited to see that and hoped we would be lucky enough to see at least one of these beautiful creatures.

As we hit the trail things were pretty good but soon we were inundated by bugs. Black flies and mosquitos has discovered us and although we had some sprays it wasn’t enough to get them to stop buzzing around us.

DragonFly Iris

DragonFly Iris

I think I needed a swarm of dragonflies to hang out with me. I have never put as much repellent on as I did today. At the halfway point of the hike we stopped for a lunch break overlooking a forested valley below us.

The views are breathtaking (sorry no photo for this one as I was busy eating my sandwich and enjoying the view). I could have stayed there all day but it was time to move on. And I’m so glad we did because as we turned the corner there he was. A magnificent moose was half submerged chomping on some lily pads. I mean, come on, how lucky were we? He was not that far away from us and just come coming closer.

Hungry Moose

Hungry Moose

It was hard to move on after seeing the moose but we still had half the trail to hike so off we went leaving the moose to his lunch. When we got back to the hostel we planned out our evening and one of the things we decided to do was a night shoot. Although we had a bright moon we hoped we could get some good photos of the stars.

Smoke Lake

Smoke Lake

The spot we choose had a little shack hidden in the distant shoreline and I tried my best to get a shot of it but with the moon so close to it and the trees keeping it in shadow it was difficult to get a great shot of it.

Moonlit Shack

Moonlit Shack

Maybe next time we visit we can plan for a moonless night and try this out again.

A Detour

Since we were unable to catch a sunset at the Sandhill Dunes last night we decided to try for a sunrise today. At least that was the plan. When we awoke to cloudy skies our hopes were dashed but we thought maybe, just maybe, the clouds would move out by the time we made the one hour drive to the dunes. As we approached the town of Sceptre we knew the sunrise shoot was not going to happen. Nigel then suggested we check out the town of Empress just over the border in Alberta. So off we went on the 20 minute journey (which ended up taking two hours because we went the long way).

Abandoned Home

Abandoned Home

Before entering Alberta Nigel spotted some red grain storage sheds so we pulled over but for me the run down shack was much more interesting. I think I spent a good 20 minutes here just to get the right angle and I’m happy we did. It was one of my favourite spots. Continuing on to Alberta the transition was abrubt when all of sudden power lines popped up on both sides of the road. We weren’t in Saskatchewan anymore. Driving the main roads to town we passed the edges of what looked like the badlands.

Alberta's Hills

Alberta’s Hills

Once in Empress we stopped in at the post office to see if the locals might have some tips on what to photograph nearby. We were directed to a place down the road called Empressive Cafe where we could get some lunch and some possible ideas from a local artist. The place was part local artist shop part intimate cafe and the food was homemade goodness. After a wonderful chat with the owners over soup and sandwiches we had a couple of ideas on where to photograph. Funnily enough the places happened to be back on the Saskatchewan side.

Of course during the drive we found a few places to stop and photograph but none seemed to inspire as I hoped. So back we went to the Great Sandhill Dunes. This time hoping to get some sunset light.

Great Sandhill Dunes

Great Sandhill Dunes

As you can see from the sky in the above photograph it had clouded over again just in time for the sun to go down for the day. No luck for us this time but the amazing shapes of the clouds were well worth the stop here and just look at the sand. I have realized since taking ths photo that there is no snow in this shot…where the heck did it disappear to? The shot was taken with a camera converted to infrared and then processed by swapping some channels in Photoshop. It was all blue so I used a gradient filter on the sand to push it to the neutral tones.



As we headed back to the hotel for the night we caught a little sliver of sunset as we passed a local farm.

Tomorrow we will be heading back to Regina and then home. We still have the drive to the airport and almost a full day to do it. The plan is all about grain elevators so stay tuned.

Chilly Day on the Prairies

A few weeks ago when my friend Nigel Banks asked me if I wanted to do a quick trip to Saskatchewan for a couple of days I jumped at the chance. So late yesterday evening we took off from Toronto Pearson Airport and headed to Regina for three days of photo fun. Needless to say when we originally booked our trip we hadn’t expected an arctic air mass to move in. When we landed in the wee hours of the morning temps were at -20ºC. A pretty chilly welcome to Saskatchewan.

We were up early in the morning and with no respite in the weather in the cards we headed straight for Swift Current, our home base for the next couple of nights. On the way towards Moose Jaw I had Nigel pull over at this modern grain elevator to get a few photos.

Modern Grain Mill

Modern Grain Elevator

Before heading to our hotel we decided that with most of the day still ahead of us we would head directly to the Great Sandhill Dunes. Did you know that Saskatchewan has large sand dunes? You thought Saskatchewan was flat right? Yeah so did I.  It was only recently when Nigel told me about it and showed me some photographs from his previous visits that I learned about them (and actually believed him-lol).

Along the main road to the dunes we passed some old grain elevators. You know, the kind you see in photos from the prairies? I will save those for a later post. 😉

An old shack by the side of the road caught our eye so we stopped here for a bit to explore.

Abandoned Shack at Sunrise

Abandoned Shack at Sunrise

There is one thing to notice here and its the sun. By this time it was afternoon, we had stopped for lunch and we expected to hit the dunes about an hour or so before sunset. The sun pretty much stayed at this height all day. I had to remind myself that we were at a higher latitude than where we live. The sun rose here at about 9am and set by 5pm. Okay it wasn’t a huge difference in the amount of light but the quality of light was great.

When we finally reached the dunes the clouds were getting thicker which meant sunset was going to be harder to see. Course it didn’t stop us from hiking up the dunes to check out the view and get some photos of the texture of the sand and snow. Trudging along the sand kept reminding me that I was actually on a sand dune…in Saskatchewan!

Cold Sandhill Dunes

Cold Afternoon on the Sandhill Dunes

Okay, now I know you must be wondering…why on earth would anyone want to go to the prairies in the winter? Well, why the heck not, I say. It allows you to get photographs of places that first, most people won’t have at that time of year and second, are not packed with tourists or locals. And one thing of note, although the temperature hovered at the -20ºC mark it didn’t actually feel that cold. The prairies are very dry and the cold doesn’t seep in like it does in Ontario. So overall day one was pretty outstanding and I am looking forward to day two.