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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.

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!

Spring "Break"

16 Feb

Been a bit stressed out lately. Reading week is this coming week, but I have so much work to do during it, I’m not sure what kind of a spring break it’s really going to be.

Currently I’ve got chapter summaries of 20 chapters out of a text, rough draft of an essay, a photograph/drawing/object on the theme of “freezers,” as well as a cross stitch project to re-vamp as it’s not going well at all.

C’est la vie.

Field Trips

25 Jan

While I’m all for class field trips, usually meaning downtown in the city, somewhere close, convenient and affordable for everyone, I didn’t expect my teacher today to propose going to Vancouver/Seattle for a four day weekend type thing. While it sounds pretty great, it’s not exactly my type of traveling, two cities in 3-4 days? A bit overwhelming. Two days traveling on a bus is not my cup of tea and most of all – I have nothing in my budget for this kind of thing.

I’m already broke, I really can’t afford something like this on a whim. Plus, in my mind set, doing a trip like that just isn’t worth it or the money spent.

If I were going to Vancouver and Seattle I’d at least make it a week if not two, not one day in each city bustling around to numerous galleries and the like without really even being able to soak in anything of the city itself. Also, I figure the nights will be like Italy all over again, everyone getting having a party or being loud in general in another room, while I have a bath to myself and go to bed early.

I probably sounded about 78 just then, but that’s what I did in Florence haha. It was actually quite nice to have a moment of quiet, the hotel room all to myself without the 5 other girls and get some much needed sleep.

If this trip happens, I’m quite sure I’m staying put at home.

A Year Until Graduation…

20 Dec

I just did a little counting. School week wise, I have about 51 weeks until I graduate. That’s a little daunting.

I took about as much time looking at a new school, and now within that time frame I will be leaving that school after 5 years. One one hand I’m looking forward to it. I’m getting to that stage where I’m kind of over school, I’m still learning a lot, more than I thought I would, and I like the formal safety net. On the other, without that safety net, I’m getting my wings back after having them clipped and making it on my own is all up to me after I’m done at ACAD.

I’ve been looking over my goals and priorities recently and the ultimate one is having my very own micro business. One thing that is really inspiring is all the blogs I follow on my Google Reader (I have 135 blogs so far on there) is the majority of them are micro business owners. It’s so cool to hear the stories of how they worked for a number of years at a 9-5 job before being able to quit and do what they want full time, all the time, while still being young to enjoy it. This is what I want.

I guess the plan thus far is to do the 9-5, making cash to fund my projects. Sell those projects online or at different sales like craft shows and start building my reputation as a photographer and crafter or whatever I decide to get up to. Maintaining this blog and becoming a self-promotion machine. Then hopefully within the 5-10 (hopefully not 10!) year span, I too will be able to quit and do what I want full time, all the time. But being say, 30 – 35 and having my dream job is pretty darn good. I feel really lucky about being in a time where having a micro business isn’t some crazy outlandish thought. Sure, it will take a LOT of hard work, but I like the challenge and I really hope it will be worth it.

Fall term

3 Dec

I’m a little baffled as to where the first semester went. It’s officially over in 19 days, but I doubt I will be hanging around all that time. Classes this term are drawing: the body, specialization in photography, photographic history, photographic practices I and ethics and standards.

I have to say, specialization and ethics were a bit of a disappointment. I don’t really feel like I was able to specialize in anything as all the assignments were dealing with the “big three” adverts, art or editorial. I couldn’t just choose one and work toward honing those skills. With ethics I didn’t really feel I learned much about what causes make a photograph controversial, though I suppose that could be fairly obvious. As well as standards, I didn’t really think I learned many standards in photography, nothing about business or any of those things.

One thing I am glad I took part in is joining the Student Legislative Council. Even though my department is full of apathy, no one seems to really care about improving the program or raising money for shows and such, I like being involved on a different level and making decisions about things. Yeah, the things I decide on isn’t really the end of the world, but ratifying student clubs and allocating money to various things, is important on it’s own level. Plus, joining the SLC let’s me meet people in all the other programs I wouldn’t be talking to as the school is somewhat segregated between the majors.

I also joined another committee dealing mainly with the faculty of my major. The goal is to assess the major and start changing it within a reasonable time table. Things like, instead of the major being a Bachelor of Design, it would become a Bachelor of Photography. To me this would make much more sense as the things I learn don’t really deal with design on the same level as the Visual Communications major. Yeah, we learn a little about text placement and leaving room for text, image placement and so on but beyond that, there isn’t really a whole lot of designing going on.

Next term I hope some of the gaps I feel are present will be filled. I am craving a business class, and unfortunately, I think there is one in 4th year. I think this is too late. We are constantly told that the business side of things becomes more important than taking images int he first place. Being self promotion machines and getting our names out there is obviously crucial. If it’s so important, why am I not learning anything about it? I do mean basic things to start out with. We’ve covered model releases which is good, but what about contracts, drafting one with proper wording that is an acceptable document. How about copyright? Editions? Invoices? Pricing? Grants? How do I put a package together?

I plan on selling my work, applying for magazines and promoting the hell out of myself. I want in depth knowledge of how to keep a good workflow and organization to do such things successfully.

One thing that has come out of the term I’m really happy with is the portfolio’s I’ve made. I think my work in those, especially the first, is what I love to take photos of and it shows how far I’ve come. I felt pretty spoiled having class time to drive around all over the place and find those buildings. It certainly didn’t feel like work. I want that all the time after graduation.

Christmas break should be quite exciting as I’m going to Newfoundland to visit my Nan. It’s been about 4 years since seeing my Nan and 10 years since I’ve been to The Rock and it’s about time I get back. I’m really looking forward to seeing my Great-Nan and where she used to live. Right on the ocean, no joke. I really hope that when I’m at that spot the fog rolls in.

Next term should be interesting as well. Design theory, photographic practices II, Advertising and communications, another drawing studio (as I’m not taking digital imaging II) and english. Should be good to see what comes out of it.