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Morley, Alberta

22 Oct

Today I ventured out of Calgary again to photograph the McDougall Memorial United Church located in Morley, Alberta. Morley sits on the North side of the Bow River in Kananaskis, and is about a 45 minute drive from where I live within Calgary.

The main reason I photographed the church was for a school assignment. I struggled to find a topic that was free choice so I consulted a very good book called Alberta History Along the Highway. Reading through to find somewhere that was of interest and close enough to not be too out of the way.

The church was constructed in 1875 in the Carpenter’s Gothic style and features pointed arch windows and front door, shingled front-gabled roof, and a central steeple crowned by a pinnacle. The designation also includes the archaeological remains of mission structures at the site.

The Morleyville Mission was established in 1873 and relocated several kilometres to its present site in 1875, when construction on several mission buildings – including the McDougall Memorial United (formerly Methodist) Church – began in earnest. The mission was at the vanguard of Methodist evangelical efforts in southern Alberta, representing the first permanent Protestant mission in the region and serving the Native tribes in the area, particularly the Mountain Stoney peoples living along the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains. It was also a pioneering settlement, featuring southern Alberta’s first permanent homestead, first herd of breeding cattle, and first Protestant church, as well as one of the province’s first trained teachers – Andrew Sibbald. Buildings at the early mission included a house, orphanage, teacherage, barns, corrals, and other structures. For a brief period during its early years, the Morleyville Mission was a hub for area settlers, though its influence diminished after the Canadian Pacific Railway built its line south of the Bow River, bypassing the mission and establishing right-of-way communities like Cochrane and Mitford as the nuclei of rural growth in the region.

The Reverend George McDougall and his son John, renowned for their missionary endeavours, pioneering settlement activities, and role in Canadian nation-building, were essential in the establishment of the mission at Morleyville. They collaborated to found the mission and John resided on the site and supervised mission operations for many years. From the early 1860s until his death in 1876, George McDougall served as superintendent of the Methodist missions in western Canada, establishing and overseeing missionary work across the vast region. John actively participated in his father’s missionary efforts as a teacher and interpreter and carried the torch of Methodist mission work in the province after his father’s death. With their wives and families, the McDougalls also laid the foundations for some of the earliest settlement in Alberta. As pioneer settlers and missionaries, the McDougalls were uniquely positioned to form relationships with the Native communities in the province during a difficult transitional period. George and John served the Native peoples during smallpox epidemics, sought to end the destruction to their communities caused by the liquor trade, and acted as peacemakers and intermediaries between Euro-Canadian settlers and politicians and the province’s Native communities. As missionaries, settlers, and negotiators, the McDougalls established some of the early civil institutions in the province and helped prepare the way for the waves of homesteaders who arrived in Alberta in the following decades. Following George McDougall’s tragic death in a snowstorm, his body was brought back to the church at Morleyville and laid to rest.

The McDougall Memorial United Church is the earliest example of the Carpenter’s Gothic style of architecture still standing in its original location. This particular style of building construction uses wood to emulate the traditionally stone structures of Old World Gothic architecture, creating a vernacular style unique to North America. The style is evident in the central steeple with pinnacle as well as the pointed arches over the front entryway and the windows. The church was restored in the 1950s.

– From

I had been hesitant on going as the cloud in Calgary was something to be desired, but as I was walking to my car I was happy to see it looked quite clear to the West, so I took my chances.

Like most prairie landmarks, even in the foothills, the bright white church stood out very clearly from a distance. There is quite a walkway from the parking lot as it were to the church itself and the lot is surrounded by a wood post fence with rusted fixtures. I spent about 2 and a half hours walking about the site, taking many photos of the church and it’s surroundings. It sits very close to the Bow River which was very blue today. I’m not a religious person, but I do think I’m quite spiritual. Being around a place that is 136 years old is incredible for me.

While walking up the path toward the church I couldn’t help but think of people who had been there before and that I was following in their footsteps. For some reason the wind added to that. The cold mountain air blowing the long grass about, the birch trees that were close by swaying as well, talking to each other. On one of the birch trees there was, what I thought, a dried up bouquet of flowers. It turned out to be bundles of branches tied to its trunk. I don’t know what it meant, but I like to think it was an offering of some kind for the memory of someone or perhaps to the season so that summer can come again. That might be romantic of me to think such things but with the history, and knowing the Stoney still live in the area, it is what I thought of. I would like to research this more if it is some kind of traditional symbol for something.

Further down the path through the long grass I came across the ruins of the Mission House, according to a fallen sign. All that was left was the concrete foundation that would be built upon with the trees, grass and moss slowly claiming it back to the earth. Things like that really blow me away. Touching it as well, knowing that I’m touching something that old and I can look at it and appreciate it make me very happy. It also helps me realize and perhaps comprehend further why I photograph the things I do. I want to share these things with people and bring light to them.

So many cars passed by on the highway and only one other stopped as I was leaving. Those people stayed for 10 minutes which I didn’t understand. Why would they bother stopping if they weren’t even going to really appreciate where they were?

I suppose that’s another thing about my work. I want to take photographs of things that people pass by all of the time and never look at. They see it, but they don’t look. My photographs allow people to look at these buildings and hopefully get some understand of how important I feel they are and learn something at the same time about the history surrounding and maybe even about themselves.


Beginning 4th Year

1 Sep

The first day of 4th year is a few hours away now.

I don’t know why but I’ve never been so anxious for a school year to start. I think it boils down to the fact that I’ll have been at this for 5 years, a nice little bubble to return to and in 8 months I’ll be out of it for a long time. I don’t think I’ll be going back to school for a while after this one, if ever.

I think it’s also that fear of growing up a little bit more. I won’t be able to “play” as much as I’d like with student loans looming, looking for a place once I get some money saved in a little while. Money is a very scary topic. It would be nice to just get some sort of deal and make loads of it so there really isn’t that worry, but, well, that probably isn’t going to happen either.

I’m also worried as I have no idea what sort of assignments I’ll be getting this year. Not that I had any other year but this is the year to really figure out where I’m going with my work, if I can do something with it. Sell it, put it in magazines, galleries…

Do people really want pictures of old farm buildings?


There are a lot of questions buzzing in my head, I hope most of them are resolved as I think being an artist we have a lot of questions that might be bubbling about but are answered along the way.

One good thing about this year is I think for the first time (and not to slag off the rest of my instructors) the teachers I’m having this year feel more dedicated, either that or they are just teaching 4th years, they are professionals in the field so they know what’s going on. All my instructors are, but I feel some of them are kind of happy in the security of the school. Others have active studios and practices with clients coming and going all the time. We finally have a business class. Why it’s left until 4th year I don’t know, as I think it’s so important. Most photographers you talk to say the business is business. Selling your work, making a name for yourself and knowing how to get that name out there to clients who want your stuff.

I think once things start up, once a bit of a creative flow starts coming back and once assignments start things will get better. Keeping busy is the main thing.

Dumb Phone

14 Jun

About a month ago my uncle brought me my John’s phone from Holland. Since then I find myself getting over an addiction I didn’t think I had to my iPhone. The John’s phone can only make and receive calls, no apps, no texting or voicemail. Some people have dubbed it a “dumb phone” rather than a smart phone. The first couple weeks I was itching to check whatever app but now I find it nice that I can check e-mail when I like and get my twitter updates when I’m on my computer, which is most of the time anyways.

The one thing I miss most is the calendar and note app, as I’d normally write down names of photographers or something I see in a magazine at the bookstore, but now I can be more self reliant and use a day planner I bought last year for homework and physically writing down dates as well as a small notebook for the things that I want to remember. Relying more on myself for such things rather than my phone to do it for me. Another thing that I’ve had to get used to is wearing a watch. I haven’t had to wear a wrist watch for nearly a decade as I’ve had a cellphone about that long and they all had the time on them. The John’s phone has no clock on it, so I’ve gone out and gotten myself a watch.

The nice things about this watch is it’s small, different with the wrap around band and my favourite colour. It’s from American Eagle and being someone who doesn’t like to show off brands, I like that the only thing that shows it’s brand is the logo in the 12 spot. It’s subtle and nothing over bearing that has the company name all over it.

The main reason I switched phones was because I can’t afford the iPhone bill I get gouged with every month. $100+ a month is ridiculous for a phone I really hardly ever use to it’s full capacity. Where as now, it’s nice that if you want to talk to me, you have to actually phone me, and catch me as you can’t leave a message. I suppose it could be seen as inconvenient, but that’s one thing I like about it.

Apart from money I wanted a way to disconnect. No chime telling me I’ve got a new email that I felt like I had to look at straight away or it would bug me. Text messaging is convenient but I like hearing people’s voices, especially when at school as it makes it feel like I’m not so far from home (even though it’s only physically 3 hours.)

So, until I get a job where I have to be on call all the time, and maybe I can rig it so I don’t have to be on call all the time, the iPhone 3G can sit in it’s box waiting until I have to reconnect and be fully immersed into the always on the go mentality and lifestyle.

Summer Plans

29 Apr

I’ve got a list of things to do this summer.

– Get a job.
– Buy new camera. (ha-ha)
– Shakespeare in the Park.
– Edmonton Fringe.
– A 4H horse show.
– Calgary Expo.

Also, I’ve been planning destinations. I only have two so far and they are a distance from my home town, but we will see how it goes.

– Brooks, Alberta – Aqueduct.
– Seebe, Alberta – POW Camp.
– Raley, Alberta – Oldest Wooden Grain Elevator Still on original site in the province of Alberta.

Ai WeiWei

8 Apr


On April 3, internationally acclaimed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was detained at the Beijing airport while en route to Hong Kong, and his papers and computers were seized from his studio compound.

We members of the international arts community express our concern for Ai’s freedom and disappointment in China’s reluctance to live up to its promise to nurture creativity and independent thought, the keys to “soft power” and cultural influence.


There is a petition started that we can all sign to call for the release of Chinese artist Ai WeiWei. If you have been following the story, please sign the petition here.

For articles and current news on Ai Weiwei you can find it here on BBC news online.

John's Phone

4 Apr

After a conversation in class and looking at my monthly phone bills for a phone I hardly really use, I’ve been thinking of “downgrading” from my iPhone 3G. I’m sure I’ve already startled a few of you already but as a student with no job, paying off a bill upwards of $100 a month is kinda crazy. I don’t have the type of job yet (if I’m ever in that position) to really need the instant updates that the iPhone has.

I usually have my computer with me, or am on my computer so I’m starting to question why I need a cell phone that brings me my email, twitter and all the rest right when I need it. So I’ve been looking at this phone I’ve seen a while back called the John’s Phone. It’s a phone that only and I mean ONLY makes phone calls. That is it.

In my looking in downgrading, all the phones have things I don’t really want, which is starting to become practically everything. I hardly text, get voicemail etc etc etc… The only thing I might want is the camera, but I don’t really use the one on my phone that much right now anyways. Plus, not having a camera on my phone might make me carry around a proper camera more, as one should.

Talking to one of my technophobe friends, this phone would be perfect for her as trying to find a phone that just makes and gets calls is almost impossible you always have to get one with features you’ll never use. The John’s phone gives you just the utter basics. Not many people know or would probably buy this thing, but I’m honestly considering it if I can get it working here in Canada. The phone is “jailbroken” so it can work anywhere with most any SIM card. It has a battery life of 3 WEEKS on standby. Try getting any smart phone to last that long. Plus it looks pretty. I would (of course) get the orange one. I think it would be quite a conversation starter.

The phone also comes in black, white, pink, brown, green and gold. The other functions are on/lock/off, ringer/no ringer and the volume control. There is a display at the top that acts as display for the number you are inputting as well as the numbers that are incoming. The other sweet feature is the contact book. At the back of the phone there is space for a little physical contact book where you write down the numbers. The phone also has a slot with a pen in it to put in those important contacts.

I emailed my uncle in Holland to have a look for them, as he’s coming this May and if he can get one there, it would make shipping it an the like much less of a headache. Though, I haven’t seen the orange one on any of the partner sites it is being sold to, but maybe if it’s found directly from the source, they might have orange. It is the national colour! So, here’s hoping.

Art Hole Radio

23 Mar

My good buddy, Lucas Roberts, has started up a radio station of sorts at school. It’s totally student run with a small group of wickedly talented executives. We will be looking for submissions from other students as well, so there should be a pretty sweet selection of content coming once we get things rolling.

I’ve got my own show called Shipwrecked. It’s and adapted version of Desert Island Discs from the BBC. I’ve yet to have an episode up, but soon! I am going to be the first cast away, and I hope to interview a girl in my class, Tasha Barrie, very soon.

The official blog for the “station” is here.

Stay tuned for further updates!