This is the Northern Ontario Project. This is “Our North”.
Before I get into what I hope to do, let me give you a little history on how this came to be.
When I was a kid, I hated where I lived and I couldn’t wait to get out and be anywhere other than my hometown. No matter, where you’re from, I feel like this is a common sentiment with our youth. I felt like the world was one big adventure that I was missing out on, stuck in my little corner of nowhere. Small town (even though it’s technically a city) life, small town minds, small town opportunity – I was scared to become a “lifer”. There was nothing exciting to do, nothing ever changed and we were miles away from anything I deemed “fun”. To make matters worse, accessibility was a huge issue, and life in the North doesn’t offer much in the way for those who find themselves without a set of wheels. It can be pretty disheartening, and honestly, one of the biggest reasons I think so many of our youth can’t wait to get out.
It wasn’t until my mid twenties, after having bounced around the province traveling, in addition to living in a few different cities, that I came to fall in love with Northern Ontario. That love started with our family cottage just outside of Chapleau, Ontario casting a line off the dock, watching the sunsets, star gazing, foraging, bon fires, and listening to the loons cry at night. Those times at the cottage became an obsession and all of a sudden I couldn’t wait to get outdoors. It took me back to my younger years and all realization that my happiest memories throughout my life have usually involved the outdoors. Cruising back roads blasting music, day tripping to nowhere in particular, swimming in secret lakes, star gazing and watching meteor showers, catching fish on the shores of lakes and rivers, snacking on wild berries or hunting for mushrooms with my dad. Nature was what made this corner of the world so special. Sure, there wasn’t the big attractions that come with Southern Ontario, but up here we had the power to turn just about any old thing into an adventure – because that’s the true magic of being a Northerner. We’re made differently up here, and once you understand that is when you truly come into your own.
This isn’t to say that Northern Ontario is for everyone. It takes a certain kind of tough to brave the sometimes 50-C winters and 12ft snow banks I grew up with. That being said, Northern Ontario deserves a visit, if only to let your soul understand what it is to feel relaxed and peaceful. Life moves slower here, and when you take to the forest, it can be like stepping into a brand new world. Our arts and culture continue to grow, and nature tourism thrives. If you want to go somewhere to “find yourself”, I’m telling you that there is no better place.
So with that being said, here you will find a gallery of photography from locals who love where they live. A picture can says a thousand words, so for this project, I’m going to let the photos speak for themselves. Consider this my love letter to Northern Ontario and all that it is. Charles Dickens sums it beautifully when he said, “Every traveler has a home of his own, and he learns to appreciate it the more from his wandering.” So go, wander and fall in love.
If you’re interested in being a part of the Northern Ontario Project, feel free to fill out this form and I’ll be sure to get back to you ASAP with more information.