Located between mainland British Columbia and Vancouver Island, Saltspring Island, the largest of the Gulf Islands, is a unique and beautiful spot. Driving up the ramp from the little ferry, one wanders along winding roads that snake between mountains and forests of cedar and Douglas fir. Then suddenly the corridor of forest opens to reveal a pocket of valley with rolling farmland, punctuated by rustic farmhouses set among gnarled Garry Oaks. Sheep graze in the fields, and signs for artists’ studios, potter’s workshops, and woodworker’s shops dot the road’s edge.
The island has a long and fascinating history. First explored by the Spanish and British in the 1700s, Saltspring was settled in the 1850s by early pioneers who had abandoned their hopes of quick riches in the Fraser River Gold Rush.
A group of 9 Negro slaves, who had purchased their liberty in the United States, arrived at what was to become thew town of Vesuvius in 1857. More black settlers from California were followed by immigrants from Portugal and Scandinavia, then British and Hawaiian settlers (Kanakas) originally recruited by the Hudson’s Bay Company. As a result of this long history, the island boasts some of the oldest farms in the province, and photographers find many abandoned farmhouses and barns dating from the 1800s.
As the light was fading under drippy skies and heavy overcast, I came across this old house in a small valley near the sea, with a meadow and a lovely old abandoned barn. Sitting beside a muddy lane, this old farmhouse was framed by alders and maples festooned with lichen.
This image was taken on Kodak VC- 160 at f/16 using the 65 mm. Schneider Angulon on my Baby Graphic. Given the limited amount of foreground, front tilt was not used.
Using the interchangeable backs on the Baby Graphic, I then took a black and white version on Ilford XP-2:
“Saltspring Island.” Online Posting on vancouverisland.com. http://www.vancouverisland.com/regions/towns/?townid=257