Travel North with me – HARTLEY BAY

I’ve been invited to HARTLEY BAY by the Gitga’at Nation to work on some architectural renderings and also look at mentoring programs for the future – I am spending a week and hope to include some plein air painting time of my own. I did not have an internet connection so the blog posts are a little “fractured” instead of a consistent daily journal.

ARRIVAL  Prince Rupert
Isn’t it great when you can google map the Tim Hortons from your hotel room – find out that it is just around the corner – so that there will be time (at 6:30 am) to get in and grab the most essential item for my creative work. The mug.

No really!…It has a lid. So that I don’t tip and spill on the laptop or inadvertently dip my paint brushes in to rinse when I am on a creative roll. They give me wicked looks at Starbucks when I come in to fill up with my plastic Timmy’s mug.

Had a smooth flight up from Vancouver – after managing to escape the snow on the sunshine coast. Fabulous views of Howe Sound with fresh snow on the islands and huge waves whipping down the Sound. Great new pics for the “Tantalus” painting series.

Sat next to another woman on the flight – also bound for Hartley Bay – one of the shift nurses that goes in for several weeks at a time to various coastal locations. So we had a great chat about the place and I already have someone to visit !

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The Rupert airport at Digby Island is quite a production. Walk off the small plane (Dash8 air canada) grab carry on baggage from a cart (outside the plane in a blasting cold wind) wait inside to pick up the checked bag, carry bags outside, I go into the bus, bags go into a different van, short drive to a VERY small barge ferry, 15 minutes across the harbour to town. Bus stopped right outside my Highliner Hotel. Thankfully the van with the bags stopped there too.

Lots of lights in the dark from the huge container terminal and many freighters offshore. And it was funny – my immediate response when we pulled up near the Rupert wharf was how different the fishing boats are. Bigger and all the cabins tall and way forward. I guess after drawing, photographing and painting the Gibsons boats all these years – something has sunk in.

anyways – I am off to get my mug before the Metkatla “ferry” (large water taxi) sails for Hartley Bay with me and all my gear on it.

Looks like a beautiful sunny day ahead for the 3.5 hr boat trip down the Inside Passage. Fresh snow on the mountains and deep fjiords and inlets. Batteries for the camera and phone all charged up.

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A beautiful run down the passage, flat seas, clear skies and snowy peaks, the ice was building up on the back of the boat as I was in and out taking photos. Coming within about 30 feet of the shoreline rocks, low hanging trees and frozen waterfalls. Quite a treat rounding the last point to see the colorful houses and wharf buildings at Hartley Bay.

Arrived at the dock in a flurry of crowded faces, boxes and people unloading and waiting to board…and add dogs, kids and motors to the confusion. I headed up with my baggage to the top of the dock, where it was a little less crowded, only to realize I had no idea which direction to start walking to my accommodation.
A young man that had been on the boat from Rupert, with blingy pierced ears and bright sneakers was throwing a pile of gear and his red electric guitar into the back of a spanky new golf cart. I asked where I would find the place – and the reply was “hop in”.

Its been 3 days since then – and that was the only vehicle I have been in. Walking on the boardwalks is a treat – all cleared of snow they make a great network of level paths throughout the community. Glad I wore my big boots – my feet are toasty warm so far.

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9:30 am up to the Hatchery – about 200 meters along the riverside boardwalk a generator is running next to a low wooden building. The snow has built up and lasted since Feburary – and the breeze off the water bites at -6. An camo atv is parked and smoke rises from the chimney. Inside a fenced gate, water splashes from pipes into the long tanks (no fish in at present) and circulates under a sheet of thin, marbled ice before tumbling down through the snowy bankside to the river.

Another door brings you into the “office” of the hatchery. Dark cedar walls, huge beams, ceiling and floors with charts, filing cabinets, posters and fishing stuff all around the walls. A big table, hot mug of tea and comfy chairs for our work meetings. Around the woodstove Stan & George describe to me the workings of the hatchery and the planning for renovations and additional buildings. I will take notes for the site dimensions and and bring in some rough sketches to show Stan in the morning.

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I had a couple of emails to send up at the Band office and then packed my paints to work on a plein air panel up by church.

I managed to get most of this painting of the church finished before the curious kids came out of school. I loved the small shed and long shadows, and the boards and rails of the walkways make great linear perspectives in all directions. Very glad of the heated mitts as it is still about -4 but the sun is really intense.

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Weather could be changing before the end of the week – so I plan to  take many photos of the early sun, shadows & snow again in the morning. Went to a family home for a birthday party pm.

There was a black wolf spotted near the back of the school field late yesterday – so all the kids are having an escort on their walk to school. I accompanied Cammie from my host house this morning, and we had fun sharing my hat & camera along the way. In this small First Nations community it is obvious everyone looks out for each other.
I continued out along the front boardwalk past the main docks and fishing boats to the furthest point of land and the float plane dock.

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