As the daughter of an immigrant mother who came from Scotland to work as an indentured servant in Toronto and a Canadian father who came from northern Ontario before the first world war to homestead in Alberta, I feel close connections to the settlement story of Western Canada. Over the past fifty years, I have lived and travelled from Manitoba to Vancouver Island, from Banks Island to the Crowsnest Pass.
“The west” has been transformed over the past century or two, for better and worse. What do we make of the landscape and society that has emerged from the almost untouched geography of a hundred and fifty years ago? Is this the place where centuries of design wisdom was unheard of or ignored? I didn't admire the structures, streets and open spaces that I saw around me. Now, as I hope these images reflect, I have an admiration for the built environment that has been made by hand and hard work, for the landscape itself that can be stubbornly empty - and for the people who, whether they inherited or adopted this land, do their best with what they find.
At times I have been conflicted between being proud to be Canadian and wishing I truly belonged to the story and aesthetics of Scotland, or perhaps some other mythical place. But no, I only belong here. I can claim this, or nothing.
The images are meant to bring attention to aspects of life in this very particular geography that might be taken for granted: doing good work, feeling at home where you are, and appreciating greatness, whatever form it takes.