Canada 150? How about Haida Gwaii 10,500?!

Canada 150? How about Haida Gwaii 10,500+?!

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All the press lately about Canada’s 150th anniversary got me thinking about Canada’s First Peoples and their truly ancient connection to this land here in BC. Archeologists estimate First Nations have been present along BC’s coast continuously for over 10,000 years, with recent discoveries of ancient tools estimated to be approximately 14,000 years old! You may be familiar with some of the rich oral and artistic traditions of coastal First Nations. Cedar plank houses, fishing gear, canoes, ceremonial masks, and iconic totem poles are all well documented and available for photography at any number of museums (the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver and the Haida Heritage Centre in Skidegate are two excellent examples). Such places are great to work on honing the technical side of your photography; working out the best depth of field for capturing intricate details of weaving or perhaps which focal length is best for capturing a tall totem. But how to tell the story of your own experience of this rich and fascinating culture?

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Nowhere are the echoes of this culture more evident than in Haida Gwaii, a wild and rugged archipelago perched on the edge of the continental shelf off BC’s west coast. Although you can fly to Sandspit and drive or cycle around much of modern day Haida Gwaii, to really experience Haida culture you need to travel to the ancient village sites and view them for yourself. These sites are floatplane and boat access only.

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As photography guide for Outer Shores, I’m obviously biased to the latter and here’s why: to really allow yourself to be creative with your camera you can’t be worried about how cold, wet, or hungry you are, or where you can dry your gear after photographing in the rain. Travelling aboard the schooner Passing Cloud you can freely explore knowing that you have a warm, dry base to return to complete with warm beverages and chef prepared meals. Released from travelling logistics, you are now free to fully engage all your senses and immerse yourself in the experience. 

Now the fun and creative photography can begin! Smell the damp rainforest, feel the texture of ancient hewn logs, listen to the stories of the Haida  Watchmen and infuse your photos with your own feelings about this amazing place. I’ve included some of my own shots here as examples.  We hope you’ll consider joining us aboard the Passing Cloud in the future!


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