DAY 30: ALL ABOUT ICE

It took a bit of time and patience, but today, the last day of this wonderful cross-country trip we  ended the day in a Zodiac Hurricane flying over huge swells in the waining afternoon sun. At speeds of 100 km/hr, our master seaman and driver, Barry took us to the ice and back. We hired Barry who is also co-owner of IcebergQuest (www.icebergquest.com) in St. John's. His skills at the wheel are precise, confident and the result of a life on the sea.

A large Zodiac, the same used in military and search & rescue is the only real way to get up close, and very personal with the ice. In some cases we were inches away in order to get in close and low for a low point of view photo. Sometimes the ice warned us back – above all, respect the ice. It was a bit nerve-wracking at times lowering the $10,000+ camera over the side and inches above the water to capture some of the images! 

The photos speak for themselves. All the ice here is within a 15 kilometre run from the Narrows of the St. John's harbour. These are but a few of the images.

Tomorrow I will post a few random images held back from some of the blog posts. 

Barry was our private guide to the ice today as he drove his 5-ton Zodiac out to sea and to the 'bergs that are barely visible from land.

Barry was our private guide to the ice today as he drove his 5-ton Zodiac out to sea and to the 'bergs that are barely visible from land.

DAY 29: CAPE SPEAR

This trip began in Tofino, British Columbia on the beach on the Pacific Ocean. Today, the trip reached the very eastern edge of Canada at Cape Spear. The eye-watering wind and fog blowing over the rough rocks hundreds of feet above the churning surf below justified the historic lighthouse which is still in operation. As well, a haunting fog horn blows mournful tones low over the ocean to any ship within earshot.

After being exposed to the winds blowing in from the direction of Ireland, a more quiet and quaint contrast could be found in the steep streets around Prescott Street and Nunnery Hill. These historic colourful houses are a great to the grey and monochrome sky and surroundings.

Since the Cape lighthouse is an operating one, it begged to be photographed this evening in the dark. Since the fog was even heavier, the images are soft, misty and the light almost impossible to balance without heavy Photoshop trickery – which was not used!

 

The original Cape Spear lighthouse helped protect ships from the cliffs between 1836 and 1955

The original Cape Spear lighthouse helped protect ships from the cliffs between 1836 and 1955

The newer, concrete Cape Spear lighthouse at about 1pm this afternoon in dense fog

The newer, concrete Cape Spear lighthouse at about 1pm this afternoon in dense fog

Stunted by wind and exposure, three gnarled trees huddle against the gale

Stunted by wind and exposure, three gnarled trees huddle against the gale

Candy-coloured homes on steep streets contrast with the grey and drab fog not far from town in St. John's

Candy-coloured homes on steep streets contrast with the grey and drab fog not far from town in St. John's

The lighthouse at Cape Spear tonight in heavy fog

The lighthouse at Cape Spear tonight in heavy fog

DAY 28: THE ICEBERG COMETH

A full day in St. John's started at Signal Hill, looking down over the city harbour inside the narrows and the Atlantic. Boats and ships were tied up at the docks preparing for the day. Fishing boats, cruise boats and scientific vessels were all up early to start their day.

Perhaps you have heard of the massive iceberg trapped and scraping the sea floor in the harbour of Ferryland, an hour south of St. John's. The 'berg has reduced in size and has drifted down the coast a bit. Today was a big hike through a challenging, muddy and steep path for 7 kilometres to view the new position of the 'berg. 

The wind blowing over the trailhead had nothing to slow it down as we waited for the sun spot to move over and illuminate the 'berg, lighting it up like a beacon. 

A fishing boat happened to chug by near the base of the iceberg and was barely visible next to the mammoth 'berg which could be about 300' in height.

The harbour of St. John's this morning. Life on and around  the ships is lively and getting away for the day

The harbour of St. John's this morning. Life on and around  the ships is lively and getting away for the day

Early morning on the docks

Early morning on the docks

The tour boat from Iceberg Quest takes visitors out to get close to icebergs, whales and sea birds.

The tour boat from Iceberg Quest takes visitors out to get close to icebergs, whales and sea birds.

I had a local watching me on the docks!

I had a local watching me on the docks!

This is a bergy bit. A small piece of ice which has broken off an iceberg. Literally thousands of these float around the sea and can be a nuisance. Though, they are great for photographers!

This is a bergy bit. A small piece of ice which has broken off an iceberg. Literally thousands of these float around the sea and can be a nuisance. Though, they are great for photographers!

"Go to the red barn and the trail begins to the left", a woman told us of the challenging 7 kilometre hike through ferry difficult terrain. At the end, a magnificent view from a great height, looking down on a massive iceberg.

"Go to the red barn and the trail begins to the left", a woman told us of the challenging 7 kilometre hike through ferry difficult terrain. At the end, a magnificent view from a great height, looking down on a massive iceberg.

On a dark coud day, eventually the spot of sunlight moves over the water and lights up this huge iceberg at the end of a difficult hiking trail.

On a dark coud day, eventually the spot of sunlight moves over the water and lights up this huge iceberg at the end of a difficult hiking trail.

DAY 27 (pt. II) BERGY BITS

Yesterday saw some cool industrial sights, but for those wishing to see some nature, here is a small sampling. 

Before heading into the St. John's area, we detoured north off the Trans Canada a small cove called, Gambo, population about 1,300. Gambo is a dot on the map, but has a significant son. Joey Smallwood, 1900-1991 called himself the Last Father of Confederation as he was the a driving force responsible for bringing the Dominion of Newfoundland into the Confederation of Canada in 1949, making Newfoundland the last province to join Canada. 

In and around Gambo a lot of bergy bits (small bits of icebergs – and yes, that's a real term!) collect, having been corralled here by the wind.

A few bergy bits reach the end of the line in a cove in Gambo

A few bergy bits reach the end of the line in a cove in Gambo

Gambo, Newfoundland, a small and peaceful hamlet open to the winds of the north Atlantic.

Gambo, Newfoundland, a small and peaceful hamlet open to the winds of the north Atlantic.

DAY 27: ST. JOHN'S

So, you can see, today's post is a little different! Heavy industry could be a theme! The Atlantic Oil refinery was a cool industrial silhouette on the landscape and something unexpected. I asked at the security gate and was told they refine oil and ship worldwide. It is just off the Trans Canada Highway, about an hour or so, west of St. John's, Newfoundland. I love industrial images and this was Dickensian at it's best! Noisy, smelly and dirty – but still fascinating to shoot.

From this place, the huge hydro project was in full flight! Get it! A huge helicopter was used to lift and install transmission towers to extend the availability and reliability of power to remote communities. The orange helo looked like a massive bug flying through the air towing a full-size transmission tower dangling below & behind. Pretty awesome. And thanks to the ground workers who pretended not to see us as we accessed their work site!

 

Not what you see in the tourism brochures of Newfoundland, but then, this is partly a trip to show more than pretty postcard images.

Not what you see in the tourism brochures of Newfoundland, but then, this is partly a trip to show more than pretty postcard images.

Just after delivering another transmission tower, the helo returns to pick up another, a few kilometres away.

Just after delivering another transmission tower, the helo returns to pick up another, a few kilometres away.

DAY 26: GANDER

The morning of September 11, 2001, north Atlantic inbound flights to the United States were rerouted to Gander, Newfoundland as American airspace was closed to commercial flights the morning of 9/11. 

Gander, a small city in central eastern Newfoundland grew by 7,000 that day. The people of Gander opened their hearts, their runways and their homes for the stranded passengers. Today, years later, many Americans return to visit their adopted kin every year in this far away Canadian province. Such an impact this kindness made, that there is a hit musical currently running called, Come From Away which chronicles the events of that morning and the city of Gander.

This is apt today as Bret Mavriik, 50, and Nymeria, his 4 1/2 year old husky walk into town along the Trans Canada Highway. They have felt the kindness of strangers here and away. They have been on the road, walking, for 17 months and heading for St. John's where their 9,000 kilometre walk will end during this  effort to raise awareness for childhood mental health. Bret puts his passions into action rather than talking. He has little patience for those who stand on ceremony. He is walking because, "It is the right thing to do", he says of his way of raising awareness. He will finish in several weeks and chooses to let his dog be the one to take the spotlight and credit. "It is the longest dog walk ever" he told a CBC journalist during one of his many interviews along the way. Please visit his Facebook page at:   https://www.facebook.com/pg/followourwalk/about/?ref=page_internal

Before pulling over to speak with Bret and Nymeria, the morning was spent exploring Gros Morne National Park and the fishing village, Rocky Harbour.

Bret Mavriik and his husky, Nymeria walk east along the Trans Canada Highway on their way to St. John's. They have been walking the length of Canada for 17 months.

Bret Mavriik and his husky, Nymeria walk east along the Trans Canada Highway on their way to St. John's. They have been walking the length of Canada for 17 months.

Nymeria takes a short nap on the side of the road while Bret and I talk about his journey to raise awareness for childhood mental health

Nymeria takes a short nap on the side of the road while Bret and I talk about his journey to raise awareness for childhood mental health

Bears, coyotes, fox, you name it, they have encountered them along the way. "We have seen every kind of animal except for a cougar", Bret says of the wildlife along his route.

Bears, coyotes, fox, you name it, they have encountered them along the way. "We have seen every kind of animal except for a cougar", Bret says of the wildlife along his route.

Wind-blown and stunted a typical forest in the more exposed areas of Newfoundland

Wind-blown and stunted a typical forest in the more exposed areas of Newfoundland

The skies around Gros Morne 

The skies around Gros Morne 

Not Alberta, this is Gros Morne National Park!

Not Alberta, this is Gros Morne National Park!

Fishing boats at Rocky Harbour at the mouth of an inlet at Gros Morne

Fishing boats at Rocky Harbour at the mouth of an inlet at Gros Morne

The lighthouse at Lobster Cover near Rocky Harbour

The lighthouse at Lobster Cover near Rocky Harbour

A small wooden house sits overlooking Lobster Cove

A small wooden house sits overlooking Lobster Cove

DAY 25: STEADY BROOK

After the seven hour crossing from Nova Scotia, Newfoundland loomed large in the tangy salt air. Everything about this rock is large! The skies are dramatic. The seas are unforgiving. The land is primeval – and the hearts of its people are the grandest thing of all.

Meeting up with Fuji X-Photographer, Scott Grant in his town of Steady Brook was a treat. He was packed, pumped, and ready to go out on the land. What we saw and the places he loves are off the tourist map for sure. The locations we visited were staggeringly beautiful and wild. It is no wonder he refers to his home province as, "God's Country"!

For the next few days, as with today, postings may be a bit sluggish due to internet issues. And just like the rest of this province, wifi issues are also huge!

Minutes after driving off the ferry in Port Aux Basques, the town falls away and the scale of this island province comes into view

Minutes after driving off the ferry in Port Aux Basques, the town falls away and the scale of this island province comes into view

We were constantly reminded at how mountainous this province is. At times it was like being back in Alberta.

We were constantly reminded at how mountainous this province is. At times it was like being back in Alberta.

Long after central Canada is basking in double-digit temperatures, Newfoundland is just beginning to thaw

Long after central Canada is basking in double-digit temperatures, Newfoundland is just beginning to thaw

Photographer, Scott Grant takes us to a little-known beach where he tests the new Fuji GFX. The smile on his face said it all!

Photographer, Scott Grant takes us to a little-known beach where he tests the new Fuji GFX. The smile on his face said it all!

Snow runoff so pure it is drinkable

Snow runoff so pure it is drinkable

Still life with fishing boats!

Still life with fishing boats!

Bundled and bracing against punishing wind and cold, the sunset session was worth the discomfort in this magical location.

Bundled and bracing against punishing wind and cold, the sunset session was worth the discomfort in this magical location.

DAY 24: SYDNEY

Nova Scotia began and ended at a ferry terminal. Digby, Nova Scotia’s dock, outside the small town on the Annapolis coastline of the bay of Fundy, treated us to our first sign of farming. Several fish hatchery pens were linked together and tended by a boat in the morning sun squeezing through the cloud. A dramatic sky yet again – which in itself is a constant theme on this cross-Canada journey.

The drive south to the coast was a drive through forests of thready trees and populated more by homes, so remote, one has to ask, “Why”? What do people do here, where do they work, how long have they lived here? Since beginning this trip, Canadians have been seen living everywhere – in large cities in condos and homes. Along highways with gas pumps to secure a living wage. And often, by themselves or with only two or three neighbours in seemingly, nowhere. I do not have the time to stop and ask questions of everyone, but it would be fascinating to know.

One of the disturbing things I have noticed too frequently are the number of homes partially or fully destroyed by fire. Not surprisingly, these homes have been in areas where I believe them to be heated by wood stoves.

And speaking of fires, we pass soberly through an area blackened by a recent fire north of Lunenburg. Walking through the black stumps and charred ground remind me of how fragile it is to live in remote areas where such occurrences, natural or otherwise may be threaten people’s lives and positions.

After a visit with old family friends in Mahone Bay, where sunlight embraced the outgoing tide, a must-stop location was on the way – Peggy’s Cove. It is unusual to see this major tourist draw with only a relatively small number of admirers. It was very easy to photograph the iconic lighthouse with nobody in the shot! Here, smooth rock acts as a sculptural base for the lighthouse and incoming waves.

In North Sydney, Nova Scotia the gaping bow of the Blue Puttees injested an upper deck of constant flowing transport trucks while the lower deck, deck 3, took in smaller vehicles such at this Grand Caravan which has been home for three weeks.

After such a long day of driving we were looking forward to reserved reclining chairs for the seven hour crossing, along with hundreds of fellow passengers snoring around us! But to our complete astonishment, the illusive two-bed berth with private bath, on which we were waitlisted, materialized! Crisp white sheets and a neat cabin awaited!

Fish farming at Digby, Nova Scotia

Fish farming at Digby, Nova Scotia

One of the many forests devistated by fire through which our route went 

One of the many forests devistated by fire through which our route went 

Peggy's Cove Lighthouse

Peggy's Cove Lighthouse

DAY 23: ST. JOHN

What a day! A road trip is an evolving thing and today was no exception. At 5 am, we rocketed across Prince Edward Island to the east shore to catch the morning sunrise – good thing since the rest of the day was more cloud and even snow in the afternoon.

As with some other days, the route changed a few times – today it was because of timing commitments and ferry schedules. So rather than bunking down around Hopewell Rocks for the night, we visited that amazing site, then pressed on to stay in St. John, but not before checking out the gypsum mining in the area – thanks to a very helpful fellow who wrote in to give information about this part of the province in which he lives and is proud. Thank you very much, Mark Rock!

After leaving PEI, New Brunswick morphed into what I remembered it to be from distant family drives – all forest! Other than the Bay of Fundy and the south shoreline of the province, New Brunswick is a fragrant forest of mixed soft and hardwoods. A walk through the forests is to see immense beauty in the vastness of the tracts, but also young, delicate and newborn. It is a renewing resource in so many ways.

A visit to the Hopewell Rocks was absolutely in order, despite the fact it was closed as it is still early in the season. We had a fantastic lunch at the Chocolate River Inn, in Edgetts Landing, where the proprietor filled us in on the local history and geology. Turns out he is a descendent of one of the Fathers of Confederation! A point that was not lost on us as our journey it timed to celebrate this historic anniversary.

Finding room in an inn, in St. John proved to be challenging if we wanted something reasonably priced! Turns out the town city is fully booked with concert-goers, theatre goers and a plethora of athletic tournaments. Great for the economy, not great when you have been turned away from no less than six hotels due to them being fully booked. So – the home for the night is a very cheap motel looking like something from a slasher film. A quick check of the bedding and mattress showed no sign of critters big or small, and the not-so-subtle roach motel just inside the front door may come in handy! But – its home! And I am grateful!

Tomorrow the ferry leaves St. John and two hours later docks at Digby, Nova Scotia.  

Sunrise on Prince Edward Island at Malpeque

Sunrise on Prince Edward Island at Malpeque

Wind and water carve beautiful forms in the soft red sandstone along the beache

Wind and water carve beautiful forms in the soft red sandstone along the beache

The Community Centre in Malpeque echo the sentiments of all who live on this island.

The Community Centre in Malpeque echo the sentiments of all who live on this island.

Gleaming white gypsum left over from one of the many mine sites. I picked up a piece and tasted it to see what it was like. No taste at all despite it being a main ingredient in toothpaste. It's much more palatable with a minty flavour! 

Gleaming white gypsum left over from one of the many mine sites. I picked up a piece and tasted it to see what it was like. No taste at all despite it being a main ingredient in toothpaste. It's much more palatable with a minty flavour! 

The beautiful Hopewell Rocks at low tide. Since this is before the season opens, access to the tidal flats is strictly against the law – as well, one is risking injury if one tries to descend. Still, it did not stop many of the more youthful and agile folks visiting!

The beautiful Hopewell Rocks at low tide. Since this is before the season opens, access to the tidal flats is strictly against the law – as well, one is risking injury if one tries to descend. Still, it did not stop many of the more youthful and agile folks visiting!

You can smell the air in this image. Cushiony soft moss and forest floors incubate new growth.

You can smell the air in this image. Cushiony soft moss and forest floors incubate new growth.

Not unique to New Brunswick, but just as fascinating to me – I love themes of decay and this home revealed many of the decorating tastes and stories within. The bathroom, contrasting with the drab surroundings, features a candyfloss-coloured pink sink and bathtub!

Not unique to New Brunswick, but just as fascinating to me – I love themes of decay and this home revealed many of the decorating tastes and stories within. The bathroom, contrasting with the drab surroundings, features a candyfloss-coloured pink sink and bathtub!

Across the road from where I filled up with gas, a boat sits idle at low tide east of St. John

Across the road from where I filled up with gas, a boat sits idle at low tide east of St. John

Home for the night... Huh! Did you hear something?...

Home for the night... Huh! Did you hear something?...

DAY 22: CHARLOTTETOWN

I had not realized there was a feeling that New Brunswickers felt visitors to their province were transient, choosing to use New Brunswick as a corridor into Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. But as I sit here in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, I realize I have done just that.

I have had a few people living in New Brunswick email me at the beginning of this cross-country trip to ask that I give their home a chance and represent it as I will have done the other places along the route. And it is for those that I say, I am sorry that I had to change my plans this afternoon at the last minute from Shediac to PEI – but just for tonight! I will be back in NB tomorrow and staying in Hopewell the night! I hope for clear skies to do some night shooting there.

From a bitterly cold snowy wind at Percé this morning and views of Bonaventure Island, we head south into New Brunswick. The many sites of major wood manufacturers are a fascination to me. Neatly stacked rows of thousands upon thousands of trees form giant walls ready for shaping and manufacture. As well, I'm not sure if it is a result of heavy snow loads from the winter or if there was a major storm, but so many trees are bent over and broken. If someone knows the answer, please let me know. I hope to focus a bit more on that tomorrow on the way to the Bay of Fundy which, of course is a jewel of the south shore of New Brunswick. Sadly I will not have time to visit St. Andrews By The Sea. It is a very beautiful and special place.

Percé this morning. Foreboding, windswept and cold. A seagull plays in the wind just between the gap.

Percé this morning. Foreboding, windswept and cold. A seagull plays in the wind just between the gap.

Deep snow begins to melt, revealing the wooden fence surrounding a seaside picnic spot.

Deep snow begins to melt, revealing the wooden fence surrounding a seaside picnic spot.

Bonaventure Island, Quebec, stands alone in a sea of highlight and shadow.

Bonaventure Island, Quebec, stands alone in a sea of highlight and shadow.

Along the way to New Brunswick, a lighthouse and shoreline are dappled in dramatic sun and shadow

Along the way to New Brunswick, a lighthouse and shoreline are dappled in dramatic sun and shadow

Near Bathurst, New Brunswick, a wall of logs sit awaiting manufacture. These walls of logs are fantastic textures and shapes.

Near Bathurst, New Brunswick, a wall of logs sit awaiting manufacture. These walls of logs are fantastic textures and shapes.

I believe these to be Aspen trees (correct me if I am wrong, please!) and are plentiful, offering beautiful contrasting shapes along the road in New Brunswick.

I believe these to be Aspen trees (correct me if I am wrong, please!) and are plentiful, offering beautiful contrasting shapes along the road in New Brunswick.

DAY 21: PERCÉ

I have a particular love of the Gaspé, and in particular, the tiny village of Percé. Growing up we camped at Percé as a family, walked the stone beach, crossed over to the Rock at low tide and spent hours skipping the wafer-thin stones that make up almost all the stones on the wind-swept beach.

Today, the seaside drive hugged the south coast of the St. Lawrence around the Gaspé peninsula to Percé. Along the way, weathered wood homes and shacks, once bold with colourful coats of paint – are now grey from exposure.

A perfect symmetrical yellow house stands alone and gave the first glance – in the distance of Percé Rock. Checking the car clock, revealed two more hours of low tide. Perfect timing to get there and walk the exposed parted sea to the Rock like old times!

The dark slate-blue overcast sky again treated us to brilliant spots of light just where it was needed to create beautiful images. This is something I have noticed happening a lot on this trip so far!

Tonight, the only motel open until tourist season is quiet. The town, and I,  are pulling the shades and tucking in as the snow is beginning to fall.

A comfy red armchair sits looking at the view, west along the shore of the St. Lawrence River east of Sainte-Anne-des-Monts

A comfy red armchair sits looking at the view, west along the shore of the St. Lawrence River east of Sainte-Anne-des-Monts

Low clouds and fog hugged the coastline all day. This community, like so many, feature brightly coloured houses along the shore.

Low clouds and fog hugged the coastline all day. This community, like so many, feature brightly coloured houses along the shore.

Every community is arranged around the tallest building in town, their church!

Every community is arranged around the tallest building in town, their church!

The first glance of Percé Rock in the distance behind this cute yellow house on the left

The first glance of Percé Rock in the distance behind this cute yellow house on the left

Today, I gained new found respect for my father who would tow our family camping trailer with mom, four children and the dog along thousands of kilometres. This view is one I remember after all the turning, twisting roads.

Today, I gained new found respect for my father who would tow our family camping trailer with mom, four children and the dog along thousands of kilometres. This view is one I remember after all the turning, twisting roads.

The view here is a delicate balance of form, colour and atmosphere.

The view here is a delicate balance of form, colour and atmosphere.

For millions of years, this land has been evolving – shaped by water & wind. Our appreciation of its beauty is a fleeting blink. Our memories of this powerful place will give us so much more than any app can hope to deliver.

For millions of years, this land has been evolving – shaped by water & wind. Our appreciation of its beauty is a fleeting blink. Our memories of this powerful place will give us so much more than any app can hope to deliver.

Portrait of a yellow house being photo-bombed by the likes of Percé

Portrait of a yellow house being photo-bombed by the likes of Percé

Goodnight Percé. Goodnight moon.

Goodnight Percé. Goodnight moon.

DAY 20: MATANE

Quebec City this morning seems a world away in every respect. In contrast, this evening, on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, Matane is a small town clinging to the edge of a major shipping route into Canada and stares out into inky blackness..

From the mountains around Charlevoix at mid day, winter came back with a vast snowy covering over forests and roads. The trees seems draped in icing sugar in a magical snow-globe kind of scene. On the north shore of the River at Godbout, intricate ice formations begin to break down under the sun, leaving crystalline structures and ice erratics on the beaches.

Tomorrow is a destination that is very exciting and I understand, at just after 4 pm, one can walk out to it – Percé Rock.

 

The Charlevoix region of Quebec today was covered in snow like icing sugar in a snow globe

The Charlevoix region of Quebec today was covered in snow like icing sugar in a snow globe

Delicate ice formations on the beach at Godbout, Quebec

Delicate ice formations on the beach at Godbout, Quebec

DAY 19: QUEBEC CITY

What can one say about Quebec City that has not been expressed? Romantic, quaint, historic, charming... But get off the main streets, leave the crowds behind and you leave Quebec City and are transported to the Rue de Bac in Paris.

This is the Quebec City that Fuji X-Photographer, Renaud Philippe prefers. Born in Lausanne, Switzerland, his family moved to Quebec City when he was four years of age – this is his home. We go for a walk along the fortified walls, cannons keep watch over the St. Lawrence River below. It is always a good thing to have a photo walk in another person's home town. Tight alleyways between houses, children jumping from paving stone-to-stone and a leisurely pace is what you find in the areas away from the tour buses. This is truly French. This is where Renaud loves to shoot.

Quebec City is a walking city. And with a camera, a simple walk can take a very long time! Later in the day, the Old City of Quebec, below the boardwalk behind the Chateau Frontenac comes to life as the sun sets and the lights come on. It is a place to spend time, move slowly and truly observe.

We will head east along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River tomorrow then take a ferry south from Godbout to Matane for the night.

Renaud Philippe, Fuji X-Photographer is at home in Quebec City shooting what he loves: the back roads of the city.

Renaud Philippe, Fuji X-Photographer is at home in Quebec City shooting what he loves: the back roads of the city.

Rooftops of old Quebec City. Photo by Renaud Philippe

Rooftops of old Quebec City. Photo by Renaud Philippe

Old and industry. Photo by Renaud Philippe.

Old and industry. Photo by Renaud Philippe.

Children skip from paving stone-to stone. Photo by Renaud Philippe.

Children skip from paving stone-to stone. Photo by Renaud Philippe.

The empty streets of the "other" Quebec City

The empty streets of the "other" Quebec City

The historic and tourist area of Old Quebec.

The historic and tourist area of Old Quebec.

Light from the sun and the door's window cast highlights on the snow in Old Town Quebec

Light from the sun and the door's window cast highlights on the snow in Old Town Quebec

Many galleries feature unique and inspiring collections

Many galleries feature unique and inspiring collections

As the sun sets, children stumble from a long day on their way home!

As the sun sets, children stumble from a long day on their way home!

A long exposure warps the incoming ferry as it pivots in the current of the St. Lawrence River 

A long exposure warps the incoming ferry as it pivots in the current of the St. Lawrence River 

A neighbourhood restaurant 

A neighbourhood restaurant 

DAY 18: MONTREAL

Only a short distance east of Ottawa is Montreal, Quebec. With its strict sign laws, anyone without a working knowledge of French could become lost – quickly! Trust me! But thanks to way-finding apps on smartphones in English, rediscovering my boyhood memories of Expo '67 was fairly easy.

One cannot visit Montreal without stopping in for a smoked meat sandwich and dill pickle at Schwartz's Deli. Here, in a packed house, strangers, elbow-to-elbow, devour piping hot, moist smoke meat as they have been doing since 1928. Salvatore Dibuono is one of the men who keep the seats warm and serves with a smile and an air of one who has been your best friend, forever! "I'm very young, I have only been here 9 years. The oldest employee has been working here 43 years", Salvatore says of his own role in this Montreal gastro institution.

As the sun begins to set between fractured clouds, the avant-garde housing development comes into view. I remember fragments of Expo '67 from when I was 8-years-old and one of the most talked about developments was a housing project called Habitat, a concrete complex of cantilevered cubes and large windows designed by renowned Israeli/Canadian architect, Moshe Safdie. The project was ground-breaking in '67. and still is striking by today's standards. To walk in and around the complex is truly awe inspiring.

As the sun went down behind the still-awesome, gigantic geodesic dome, which used to have a monorail running in and out of it, the logo and all the sounds of Expo begin to come back.

Tomorrow, a short drive away is historic, Quebec City.

In Old Montreal, a bicycle awaits its rider inside this shop.

In Old Montreal, a bicycle awaits its rider inside this shop.

Just beyond the steps of Notre-Dame Cathedral, the bride here is motioning for me to be careful of the car, advancing from behind me as I keep step with her, walking backwards

Just beyond the steps of Notre-Dame Cathedral, the bride here is motioning for me to be careful of the car, advancing from behind me as I keep step with her, walking backwards

Part of the Habitat complex designed by architect, Moshe Safdie for the Expo '67 World's Fair in Montreal

Part of the Habitat complex designed by architect, Moshe Safdie for the Expo '67 World's Fair in Montreal

Some of the beautiful spaces in the Habitat complex

Some of the beautiful spaces in the Habitat complex

Salvatore Dibuono brings our much-anticipated smoked meat sandwiches!

Salvatore Dibuono brings our much-anticipated smoked meat sandwiches!

Taking a smoke break in the Old City

Taking a smoke break in the Old City

The giant geodesic dome which is the symbol of Expo '67, now called the Biosphere.

The giant geodesic dome which is the symbol of Expo '67, now called the Biosphere.

DAY 17: OTTAWA

Back on the road today after a brief stop in Toronto. As much as we can, the roads less travelled are preferable to major highways. So, as soon as possible we got off the 401 highway and dropped down into and through Prince Edward County.

Other than Prince Edward Island, I know of no other sand dunes in Canada, so visiting Sandbanks Provincial Park was a must and never disappoints. But the real fun came as we were heading out of the County and discovered a huge World War II RCAF base that time forgot. Well, it is not forgotten, but is home to artisans, small film companies, a few garages and some storage for boats. It is also a place where the runway serves as a drag strip a few times a year! Hmmm, I wonder how fast the Dodge Grand Caravan rental would go!

Ottawa met this GFX road trip with pelting rain and dark grey skies. Down at the locks, there was so much water runoff that a manhole cover was repeatedly popping up and down from the water pressure below!

Tomorrow we head to Montreal and the beginning of the road trip through Quebec. 

At Sandbanks Provincial Park

At Sandbanks Provincial Park

The old RCAF base near Picton, Ontario. According to a local man at the site, this is where Camp X, the film was shot.

The old RCAF base near Picton, Ontario. According to a local man at the site, this is where Camp X, the film was shot.

One of the many airplane hangars on site

One of the many airplane hangars on site

The fortified heavy concrete wall that was used to fine-tune the aim of large caliber machine guns on the planes that used this as a training base. The wall is riddled with shell damage.

The fortified heavy concrete wall that was used to fine-tune the aim of large caliber machine guns on the planes that used this as a training base. The wall is riddled with shell damage.

Where green meets blue

Where green meets blue

Getting out of the rain in a pastry shop in the Byward Market in Ottawa. This is where Canadians fell in love with President Barack Obama as he visited the shops, ate, and even bought a key chain for one of his girls!

Getting out of the rain in a pastry shop in the Byward Market in Ottawa. This is where Canadians fell in love with President Barack Obama as he visited the shops, ate, and even bought a key chain for one of his girls!

Jean, my long-suffering road trip partner tries to hide as Billy from Fuji Canada looks on! Classic!

Jean, my long-suffering road trip partner tries to hide as Billy from Fuji Canada looks on! Classic!

The Interprovincial Bridge, 1900, connects Quebec (left bank) with Ontario, over the Ottawa River in the pouring rain and wind. The GFX camera, again, had no issues with shooting in the rain.

The Interprovincial Bridge, 1900, connects Quebec (left bank) with Ontario, over the Ottawa River in the pouring rain and wind. The GFX camera, again, had no issues with shooting in the rain.

A Canadian flag rests on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa, Ontario.

A Canadian flag rests on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa, Ontario.

DAY 16: SHOOTING IN THE RAIN

Toronto. I live here. So what is so special about my city? To outsiders it is exciting, multicultural, clean and polite. But today it is just wet and cold! The other attributes are true, but today, it's miserable and wet! That makes today's Fuji photowalk even more interesting and Aling, our model who also works at Fuji Canada, more impressive! She had no issues with shedding layers for each shot and getting dressed again as we walked from City Hall to Graffiti Alley where we ended in the pouring rain!

This was a test of the new GHF with off camera flash in the rain. And yes, the camera was drenched! To my mind, the most susceptible entry point for moisture, the gasket on the barrel of the zoom lens, had no water issues at all. The seals were perfect and even though I had to wipe the water off the end of the lens to shoot, I never worried about the camera in the downpour.

Thanks for all who came out, and of course, for Aling for being patient and good-spirited!

Tomorrow, we are off again! Ottawa is our next spot on the way east to the Atlantic coast!

Yup! Pretty wet! Aling stands out in the open of Nathan Phillips square with the flash illuminating the rain.

Yup! Pretty wet! Aling stands out in the open of Nathan Phillips square with the flash illuminating the rain.

Shelter from the storm!

Shelter from the storm!

Someone left their Vespa for us to use as we walked along Queen Street West

Someone left their Vespa for us to use as we walked along Queen Street West

The beautiful Osgoode Hall

The beautiful Osgoode Hall

Coming out of the Osgoode subway stop

Coming out of the Osgoode subway stop

I asked Aling to show some attitude for this setup. She replied, "But I am mostly a very nice person"! 

I asked Aling to show some attitude for this setup. She replied, "But I am mostly a very nice person"! 

Tossing her long wet hair back

Tossing her long wet hair back

Not Aling, But Rhys from Fuji Canada as he jumps Marry-Poppins-style! Great umbrella, Rhys!

Not Aling, But Rhys from Fuji Canada as he jumps Marry-Poppins-style! Great umbrella, Rhys!

A bit of shelter while the rain pour down a few feet away

A bit of shelter while the rain pour down a few feet away

DAY 15: LOOKING BACK

Today is a day at home, and half-way through this month-long Pacific-to-Atlantic, cross-country road trip. This is a day of laundry computer work, repacking, and reflecting on the country west of home here in Toronto.

While there has been epic beauty in eye-watering landscapes and the people we met along the way, there is also another beauty. A beauty overlooked, simple and just as photographically alluring – more so in some cases. These are scenes with deep visual narratives that stay with you long after leaving them behind. Places with stories and personality. These are places I absolutely love to photograph.

These places are lost and forgotten and would never be the subject of a photo essay. So here are my choices for several such places. Feel the stories the conversations and the lives once lived.

DAY 14: NIAGARA

800 Kilometres. The distance from Sault Ste. Marie to Niagara Falls. And we got there by 3:30pm! A long day but one with a goal. Niagara Falls is a must on any Canadian cross-country trip – especially at night when the new high-power LED panels light the falls with a spectacular light show.

This morning was spent travelling through Canadian Shield landscapes dotted with small dark ponds, out of which  bright, lichen-covered rock burst into vibrant colours. South of that lay the country's biggest highways, not inspiring at all, but a means to an end – Niagara.

 

Very common sights in the Georgian Bay area on the way south from Sault Ste. Marie

Very common sights in the Georgian Bay area on the way south from Sault Ste. Marie

The ice is gone and life begins in the Georgian Bay district

The ice is gone and life begins in the Georgian Bay district

The old Empire Building On Queen Street in Niagara Falls. Life here is evolving slowly

The old Empire Building On Queen Street in Niagara Falls. Life here is evolving slowly

The roar of the Canadian, Horseshoe Falls in Niagara is mesmerizing! 

The roar of the Canadian, Horseshoe Falls in Niagara is mesmerizing! 

The American Falls seen from the Skylon Tower on the Canadian side of Niagara

The American Falls seen from the Skylon Tower on the Canadian side of Niagara

The Canadian, Horseshoe Falls seen from the Skyon Tower

The Canadian, Horseshoe Falls seen from the Skyon Tower

A very different perspective of the Horseshoe Falls as seen from the water's edge

A very different perspective of the Horseshoe Falls as seen from the water's edge

At the end of today's 800 Km drive, this is what it was all about! The powerful lights light up all the falls. Pictured here, the Horseshoe Falls.

At the end of today's 800 Km drive, this is what it was all about! The powerful lights light up all the falls. Pictured here, the Horseshoe Falls.

DAY 13: A SPIRITUAL JOURNEY

Feeling road-weary, spiritually lost, alone and need someone caring to speak with? If so, and you are motoring along the Trans Canada Highway, east of Thunder Bay, at Pass Lake, turn in at the Flying J gas bar and sit down with Sam McIntosh in the, Transport For Christ Mobile Chapel.

At 70, Sam is a tall man looking more like 60 with an affable smile and comforting handshake. Sitting in the elegant, wood-panelled chapel in the tractor trailer we speak of his background, his role as one who ministers and of his future.

“I was a truck driver out of Edmonton, hauling diesel and other tanker loads”, Sam describes, well before he felt the call and took the call to move east to the top of Lake Superior 3 years ago to become a pastor to truck drivers and other road-weary drivers who for the most part, just want to talk.

“They are a transient group, the truckers. Sometime I might see the same person three times a year”, he says, so discussions are not too in depth, but enough to let drivers know they have a friend, and a confidant on their side. If counselling is needed, he refers his parishioners to those who provide professional counselling services.

Run 100% from donations, this truly is a calling and not a get rich scam. Sam is gentle, caring and despite recent health issues, cannot see doing anything else. He is the real deal and welcomes in anyone for a comforting chat on the long haul over the top of Lake Superior. 

Close to the end of the day, the thundering Chippawa River rushes toward Superior. For those old enough to remember huddling around your bedside radio or sitting in front of the record player, this ear worm is for you:

“The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy…”

–Gordon Lightfoot, 
The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Closing the day in Sault Ste. Marie, the sun slips into a brilliant orange and gold sunset behind the International Bridge.

Sam McIntosh is pastor, friend and confidant to truckers on the road and looking for guidance 

Sam McIntosh is pastor, friend and confidant to truckers on the road and looking for guidance 

Morning in Thunder Bay where Central Canada's wheat comes by rail, to be shipped through the Great Lakes to eastern Canada and beyond

Morning in Thunder Bay where Central Canada's wheat comes by rail, to be shipped through the Great Lakes to eastern Canada and beyond

No image of Thunder Bay is complete without capturing the Sleeping Giant beyond the shore of the city

No image of Thunder Bay is complete without capturing the Sleeping Giant beyond the shore of the city

The Terry Fox memorial honours the courageous run that ended  here, just east of Thunder Bay

The Terry Fox memorial honours the courageous run that ended  here, just east of Thunder Bay

According to those in the know, this 28-foot tall goose in Wawa, Ontario is one of the most photographed attractions in Canada

According to those in the know, this 28-foot tall goose in Wawa, Ontario is one of the most photographed attractions in Canada

Laying under an ice shelf, Batchawana Bay spreads out to Lake Superior

Laying under an ice shelf, Batchawana Bay spreads out to Lake Superior

Lake Superior, Ontario is still in the grips of winter while southern Ontario, still a two day drive basks in warm temperatures

Lake Superior, Ontario is still in the grips of winter while southern Ontario, still a two day drive basks in warm temperatures

The mighty Chippawa River flows down toward Lake Superior

The mighty Chippawa River flows down toward Lake Superior

The bridge to the USA at sunset in Salt Ste. Marie

The bridge to the USA at sunset in Salt Ste. Marie