It was really difficult selecting the photographs for this post, because Grimsby Beach is just so cute.
Grimsby Beach is a neighbourhood right on Lake Ontario, not far from Winona. The cottages are candy coloured and still have all their ornate trimmings, the kind that make a place look like a gingerbread or doll house. It’s sort of sweetness overload, as if Sanrio invented a real life town for Hello Kitty to live in. I loved it. There are a few cottages that stand alone, but when you find the original cul-de-sac, you know you’ve arrived.
And when I say original, I mean historic.
(Historical photographs, courtesy of Hamilton Public Library, Local History & Archives).
Grimsby Beach was originally established as a Methodist campground in the late 1840s. It was a dense forest and liquor was strictly forbidden on the property. By 1888, a temple was built and there were about 70 cottages with fancy gingerbread trim, where people could stay during the camp meetings. There were concerts, lectures, athletic competitions and a beach. After 1908, the location was a picnic area and amusement park. In 1922, the temple was torn down, but many of the cottages still remain and are recognizable in the old photographs of the area. Hamilton Library’s Local History & Archives has an actual archive of that area, (I haven’t gone through it). It’s easy to forget how many interesting places there are in Ontario, and if you ever need to explore a new place, it’s worth it.
There are perks to working in the city, especially a cool city, like Hamilton. Everyday there is something new to see, and so many interesting faces. I haven’t done a lot of street photography lately, but I really should. Hamilton is such a diverse place and “characters” are everywhere (and sometimes they are the people with whom you’re photo walking!) Most of these photographs were taken during the 500px Global Photo Walk. We got a lot of rain that day, but the sun came out for the last hour, just not while we were along the waterfront. The down side to so many adventures (and a new full time job working with photos!) is that I never get time to blog anymore. This post is only happening because I slept in too late to make a workshop I signed up for, so I had a few spare minutes. Hamilton is such a fascinating city. The more time I spend, the more I love the old buildings. I’ll have to schedule a post just on my favourites, although it’s not always easy finding out information about them, without hitting up the land registry office (and I work in the Archives).
I’m currently obsessed with the Jackson Square Roof, actually, I always have been. Lunch times up there are so peaceful, and the light changes every day, so the window reflections in the nearby skyscrapers shift constantly. You meet different people than you normally would, and you take photos of them, even though it’s sort of out of character for you to even ask someone. So you have to let them take your photo in exchange. Plus photographs taken from that vantage point (roof tops) make the world look like tiny dioramas. It’s weird, because you feel more like you are observing than participating.
Isn’t this little alley way perfection? I love the colours and butterflies. Really this post is just to share what I see each day, a rather beautiful world. It’s easy to believe the worst in people, and just see the garbage and smog, but try to look with a different lens this week. Explore a new or old place, simply because you can.
A photo of me on a rooftop, by my good friend, James Allen Shepherd.
Nature doesn’t need us, but we need it, so we should take better care of it – abandoned homes always make that evident. I remember reading that somewhere. I think I mentioned it in another blog post. Every time we go exploring, I see that evidence that nature finds a way. The dirt and dust seeps in across the floor. The wood warps. The metal rusts. Eventually the grasses and trees wiggle their way through roof tops and vines crawl up the bricks or stones. It makes abandoned places beautiful, although somehow still sad.
A few weeks ago now, Sarah and I set off to find a different abandoned house, in fact, a few different abandoned houses. They were torn down and new places re-built in their stead. We had almost given up when we came across this place, and it’s one of my favourites so far.
We couldn’t actually go into the house since the floor was caving in, but I took so many photos of the vines coming in through the roof. On the front of the house, you could see rays of sunshine just above the eaves. I couldn’t capture it though. Someone how pulled old magazines out of the drawers and left them on a counter. You could tell that they hadn’t been there long because the elements hadn’t gotten to them yet. Someone lived in there once. They slept here and came home from work here. It’s just so weird to imagine.
The path behind the house was covered in wildflowers, and the barn was even more overgrown.
There was wild phlox everywhere! We went right after noon, so the shadows are harsh, but I think you can still get a sense of the beauty of the place. Definitely a good place to find ticks, but I didn’t go home with any hitchhikers this time. On the way, when we got turned around, we did find some sheep though.
If you’ve ever watched Gilmore Girls, you have a pretty good idea of what small town life is like. Not in the sense that small towns are quaint and idealistic, but in that small towns are full of unusual people and quirky happenings. When you go to a festival, you will run into dozens of people you haven’t seen since high school, other than when you ran into them at the festival the year before. Nothing really makes sense, particularly the parade, which definitely has quite a few tractors, but if you watch it for the kitsch factor or you’re a very small child, you’ll enjoy it. The parade actually runs the Saturday of the Mudcat festival, and although it’s not the first major event, I’ll start there, because I laughed a lot. Honestly, most of the people who turn out put a lot of work into their floats and so forth, and that is too be applauded, but no matter what, it’s Dunnville and I love it, but it’s weird.
Here are a few of the good and bad moments of the parade. I didn’t capture all unfortunately. I was too enthralled, then I was like, “oh no! I’m missing preserving this!”, and started snapping, even though there were people standing in front of me and I’m short.
The Mudcat Festival also has a Midway, Street Dance, Fireworks and Live Music. The fireworks are always really good. The park on the river is jam-packed with people and that’s always fun, although sometimes it’s tricky to get good seating.
I’ve just realized how photo heavy this post is, so I’ll break it into two posts! I’ll save the photos from my favourite event until last. What other small town festivals are good? Are there events that are different? Maybe I should try to hit up a few for comparison.
So many times we visit a place over and over and miss the secret things that exist there. You can pass a bright orange building more times than you can count, and not even know that it’s an abandoned treasure. Finally, a friend of mine decided to look in it, and he snapped some photos and then I saw it for the first time. It’s like when you see a quotation or read a book, and it doesn’t speak to you, until suddenly it does. Sometimes I wish I could speed up those revelatory moments, but it just doesn’t work that way.
The best part about this place was the light. It streamed it through the empty door off the river. It wasn’t the easiest building to photograph from that standpoint, a wide dynamic range, but it illuminated the old stove and our faces when we stepped near the doorway.
I know that we can’t force revelations to happen, we can’t find perfect places that we don’t know exist, but somehow we need to find a way to be open to new experiences and not miss the chance when they come our way.
This spring has been full of abandoned places, and I love how you are transported back to the past for the length of time you are there. Yet, even there, time doesn’t stand still. Nature takes back the space. People visit and stay over night, or have parties there, and leave their drinking cups or water bottles. The dust is disturbed, the mattresses are moved. No place is untouched by humans, but it’s nice to venture into places that are neglected and discarded. There are so many, but you have to look. You have to be ready to slam on the brakes. You have to be willing to see beauty in unlikely places. Hopefully then, the overlooked places and knowledge will be easier to find.