“My series of photos details my experiences hiking the West Highland Way in Scotland, and tree planting in Northern Ontario in 1997. The series culminates with an image I took of a coke bottle filled with earth that I collected while tree planting and have kept all these years.
The photos from 24 years ago form a narrative unified by the common theme of the natural world and how we have modified it through deforestation. I was initially embarrassed that I left the date stamp setting on my camera but I actually like how it sets those photos in a particular era. Spending much of the spring and summer of 1997 travelling and sleeping outside, forced me to intimately think about the landscapes of Scotland and Ontario. Their beautiful vast horizons and the dramatic impacts of deforestation left an indelible mark.
I flew out of Toronto Pearson airport on a very icy March 20th, 1997 and landed in Glasgow, Scotland with spring in full bloom. On my first day, I met a traveler at a pub who had just completed The West Highland Way. Hearing his stories, I committed to doing the hike, which I admittedly never heard of before his recount.
On May 7th, 1997 I flew to Timmins, Ontario to start a tree planting job. This job was much harder than I anticipated. I took fewer pictures than I intended as the work was all consuming and my camera was in poor condition. Near the end of the planting season I collected and filled a coke bottle with some earth. I returned home on June 23rd feeling tired, very happy to see my bed and very much looking forward to developing the rolls of film I had shot while in Scotland and Northern Ontario.”