St. Joe’s Island is a place I keep going back to whenever I’m in Northern Ontario. The island sits at the end of the St. Mary’s Rivers in Lake Huron.
As kids, Rainer’s mom and dad would take us to St. Joe’s to fish and to pick blueberries. We would do the 20 mile drive following the St. Mary’s River through the Indian Reservation and end up at the dock to wait for the ferry to take us onto the Island. The ferry held maybe 10 cars. I remember rough, white-capped waves and staying in the car while the ferry navigated the narrow channel. In the late 70’s the Provincial government built the current bridge. The image on the left is the bridge going over to the Island.
And this morning I got to shoot a photograph that echoed back to one of my favorite paintings – Casson’s “White Pine”. AJ Casson was one of the Canadian Group of Seven – artists who, after WW I, fled Southern Ontario for the Georgian Bay and Algoma areas to paint. Reproductions of their famous landscapes were in my basal reader. I remember being proud to see the landscapes that I saw everyday living in the Sault captured in canvas, reproduced in color in my reader. (It was great to see recognizable wilderness instead of Toronto streetscapes and Ottawa parliaments.)
This is one of my favorite images – Seane, Connie and Christian.
The light-green finger, the white tank-top, the blue hair-clip, the black hollow, the sun tanned shoulders, the brown T, the yellow-green leaves, the grey culvert, and the checker-board shadows; Sean protecting, Connie leaning, Christian walking over; serendipity.
Northern Ontario, in early August, still has a summer sun. The evenings are deep-red and soft. Twilight lingers.
It was Christian’s birthday, we had just finished eating and went walking in the evening light; three of us led by an adventurous aunt.
When they got to the culvert, they walked right out onto it. As the reporter and interpreter, I can assign motivation and action to the characters in the image – Connie needs to see what is in the water; Sean is hesitant and cautious; she’s trying to make sure her aunt doesn’t tip into the stream; Christian meanders; the uncle stays back, pushing the shutter-release.
The drive up to the Soo was free of snow and ice. And the time is always an occasion for self-reflection and anxiety about the upcoming holiday. (The anxiety is a new awareness, in the past I suspect it was hidden in anticipation, but I guess age strips away the need to hide.)
I went up early, because I could not stay beyond the 25th. This gave me time with my parents before the onslaught. We’ve established an easy routine – 11:30 and 5:00 my dad calls us to eat and the three of us talk all through the meal. (Let me mention that the TV is on all day, playing out the sordid details of the soap bimbos and bimbettes. The American and Italian soaps are populated by similar replicants. The difference is the words and the landscapes. The tits are similarly perky and the angst is all consuming regardless the longitude.)
Today I decided to go up to the old St. Mary’s and shoot some pics. The image below is the landscape we saw every morning as the yellow bus pulled up the hilltop and deposited us at the front door. Even though the the new St. Mary’s is a French immersion high school, students still use the same front doors we used 50 years ago. (The old St. Mary’s – Boys Catholic High School, is now at the bottom of the hill in a building that used to house a vocational high school. Also, the school is no longer single sex; it is now co-ed.)
The bridge is the gateway into the Upper Peninsula and the United States. (It’s the road home.) The smoke on the right is from the steel mill. (I worked in the rolling mill the summer of my junior year.)