five|one|nine photography

the best way to find yourself is to discover where you are

arva flour mill August 1, 2010

Welcome back to Arva. I know it’s technically double-dipping, but there was just so much at the Mill, I had to split it into two posts.

While I’ve shopped at the Arva Flour Mill before, I’d never taken the time to wander about the property and it’s such an interesting blend of the industrial and the pastoral. And not only is it a destination for local shoppers, fishermen, and wildlife; the White Stripes performed there in 2007!



Welcome to Arva July 25, 2010

Since I’m still rather non-functional with the sitting and the walking and the living, so I’m serving up photos from another Small-Town Ontario adventure. Thanks to Mishy for joining me!

This spot will soon consumed by London, and though I chose not to photograph it, the condos going up all around are a clear indication that it’s already a bedroom community for the much larger city. Until then, welcome to the village of Arva.

Stay tuned for my adventures at the Arva Flour Mill.



Welcome to Sylvan July 18, 2010

I had the pleasure of a visit with one of my besties this weekend, and as always, our conversations turned philosophical. M and I have found ourselves on a similar path together over the past year and it’s been wonderful to discuss our ideas and share the little moments of discovery along the way.

I took a wee detour on the way home and marveled at the strange and pretty roads I’d never traveled. It struck me that The Road Not Taken might be an apt description for not only my summer travels, but the journey I’ve been on.

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that I found myself driving through this particular tiny village on the way home from Ipperwash Beach today. One of my favourite academics told me about this little spot over a shared pint at the Grad Club, telling me I simply must visit of the best used bookshops he’d ever seen in Southern Ontario. But I got busy, and busier, and never made it out there until now.

But my dear internet, there’s a fly in my Small Town Ontario Project ointment. Since I do most of my traveling on Sunday afternoons, the towns are already sleeping. The shops are closed, the inhabitants in the midst of their Sunday suppers, the experience is passive. That will need to shift along the way.

With that, please let me introduce you to Sylvan. One bookshop, three houses, and rolling farmland.


I picked up Jennifer Grainger’s book, Vanished Villages of Middlesex, and stayed up way too late leafing through it. Sylvan makes an appearance on pages 274-276, with Grainger noting that it was one of the most important communities in Middlesex County, and at one point at least 46 businesses. The thriving community of Sylvan died out when the lumber supplies were depleted, and then it was bypassed by the railway.



Welcome to St. Agatha July 12, 2010

This weekend couldn’t have been better, spent with great friends and enjoying the beautiful weather with camera in hand. I spent this afternoon with A., who was visiting from BC, and not only did we watch Spain defeat the Netherlands, but he also joined me for my Sunday small-town Ontario project in St. Agatha. A’s father is a great photographer, and I was floored to see his amazing photos from recent expeditions to Iceland, the Galapagos Islands, and the American Southwest. Some day soon, I hope to see some of his work online and pick up a print or three. Thank you all for a lovely day!

Without further ado, welcome to St. Agatha:



Welcome to Drumbo July 4, 2010

As one of the backroad towns between Cambridge and London, I must have driven through Drumbo countless times over the years and I don’t think I’ve ever stopped until now. It’s always struck me as the plain sister to the pretty tourist towns in the area, and I’m curious to find out how and why Drumbo came to be, and why it feels so much more like a frontier town than Ayr or St. Marys. Information online has been remarkably sparse; as someone who is used to finding everything and anything online, it’s been surprising.

I came across the 2010 Ontario Heritage Conference in my searches, and a reference to Katherine Ashenburg’s book, Going To Town: Architectural Walking Tours In Southern Ontario. I loved her most recent book, The Dirt On Clean: The Sanitized History, which made me both giggle with delight and squeal with disgust. While I don’t think Going To Town will necessarily cover the information I need, I think it’ll be a great accompaniment to my summer travels, along with some old musty history books from local used bookshops and a stack of books by Ron Brown. Unfortunately, no one in town has Going To Town in stock so I’ll have to wait a few days for my order to come in.

Welcome to Drumbo

Drumbo Ice Cream

Drumbo Street View

Drumbo Pub

Drumbo Remembers

Drumbo Storefronts

Drumbo Opportunities

Drumbo Morrow's

Next week, something a little more “picturesque” perhaps?


Welcome to Nilestown June 27, 2010

A few days ago, I was driving home from work, and I had an epiphany. And then… I had an epiphany ABOUT having epiphanies. Are you still with me?

The original epiphany is unimportant to the world at large, but the second mini-epiphany (epiphany aftershock?) was that I do my best thinking while driving. I thought back to a posting at Chookooloonks on meditation a few weeks back about meditation. For me, photography is very much like meditation. As Karen noted, the act of considering my subject, my settings, my intention is an act of meditation for me. And when I drive, I think. I compose. I ponder. I’ve written the best letters, stories and, yes, blog entries, while on the open road, only to lose them like dreams when I reach my destination.

I remember coming back from the desert last summer, and wondering what the future would bring and where I would find myself. The uncertainty led me to fall in love … with Ontario. It was so startlingly lush and green after the muted tones of the desert, and everywhere I looked was just more lovely than the last. I’d always had this dream to leave Ontario, to move out to BC Nova Scotia or anywhere with gorgeous vistas around every bend of the road. While I would never rule out a move in the future, I appreciate my surroundings so much more now.

Welcome to Nilestown, and the beginning of the Small-town Ontario Project.

Internet, if you’re excited now, just wait until you meet Drumbo next week!