Back in June 2013 I did a blogpost on this gutted church that stands lonely in a field of dandelions out on Red Bluff Road, south of Quesnel, British Columbia. The light was perfect – pink and soft after a late afternoon shower – so I took a detour to try to photograph her. I turned off the main road down a pot-holed dirt track, and was met by two mangy dogs, which barked noisily at me – not used to seeing strangers in their neck of the woods. Literally.
But they were harmless, and I wandered around for at least half an hour – trying to do the old Catholic church justice with my photos. I imagined the stories she could tell – of families whose histories were intertwined with her own: of baptisms, weddings, funerals and Sunday services.
Interestingly enough, when it first caught fire, the local volunteer fire fighters went inside, only to find that there were no flames or smoke. It turns out that the part of the church one can see was simply built around the original structure, and that the double walls and double roof were keeping the flames on the outside.
When I returned to these parts in July this year I went over one evening to shoot her again, and was met with a sign with red letters: Private. And something about needing to get permission to enter. Perhaps my numerous visits in 2013 and 2014 had something to do with that. Of course, I ventured in anyway to see if I could find the right person to give me permission to shoot my favourite model. Once again, a few dogs announced my arrival loudly, and a young woman stepped out of a van or truck in a cloud of smoke, clutching a beer and a joint.
“You’re not allowed to be here,” said she. “You have to get permission from the band,” which, in these parts, means the First Nations or aboriginal ‘group’ (for want of a better word). And so I left, just a little bit dejected. Perhaps I will try to get permission from them at some point, but in the meanwhile I leave you these – my first photos of my favourite model.
(PS, when I blogged about it previously, I was told in no uncertain terms by a Canadian friend who lives abroad that I should “be careful where/when you use the term ‘prairie’ while in Canada. As someone from THE Prairies, a small flat open space such as is shown in your photo does not qualify.” I decided to keep the name because it sounds poetic. My apologies to everyone from THE prairies to my east, including you “prairieplett.”)