Tag Archives: Bridge City

Bridge City 2.0

I have been asked a lot lately if Bridge City is now fixed.  For those of you not keeping track at home, I crashed Bridge City a few months ago and lost about 500 posts and photos.  I was devastated and felt like giving up on the project to document most of the important buildings and landmarks in Saskatoon. 

The Calgary Tower

Since then I have been uploading and putting back parts of the site that I had thought I had lost.  It’s a slow process but one that is making progress.

Right now there are 373 posts on the site with a new one going live each day from now until basically early 2017.  If I keep shooting at this pace, we should be okay through the end of 2018 in a few months.  That is awesome.  I am also backfilling a lot of posts on the day that I took them.  So if I took a photo in 2012, I am uploading it the day I took it in the timeline.  The good news is that it gives the photos their correct chronological context, the bad news is that I didn’t do that with version 1.  So a photo that I once posted in 2015 may be now posted in 2011. 

Some of you have criticized the travel sections because they are not from Saskatoon.  To that I say, “meh”.  I travel, I like taking photos and I like reading about the architects who build stuff.  You can deal with it.

I have also been asked what is the local response.  Traffic is up but engagement with builders, property owners and architects is also up.  I have also had some question the accuracy of what I have written here because their documents are different.  Those conversations are a lot of fun because mysteries or contradictory information is fun to resolve. 

The goal is 1000 posts by New Year’s Day.  90% of that will be Saskatoon.  So if you want to keep up to date, check back daily and browse the archives. It’s a ridiculous project and in some ways I wish I had never started but someone had to figure out the history of every building in the city didn’t they?  What’s that?  They didn’t?!  Darn it.

Well this doesn’t look good.

So the other day I was messing around with my photo project Bridge City and everything went wrong with the database.  My WordPress database was messed up.  The backup was less messed up but it was a mess.  I felt like hurling.

For those of you know follow it, you know that I have uploaded about 750 high resolution photos of Saskatoon to the site, organized by neighborhood.  For the historical buildings in Saskatoon, I tracked down the architect and learned a lot about the city in the process.  There was David Webster the father and David Webster the son.  Many historical records claim David Webster as architect when he wasn’t and some historical records have contradictory information which often means the building construction is more complicated than we ever thought.  Personally I think at one point in our city’s history, if we didn’t know who the architect was, someone at the back at the room yelled out, “David Webster” and someone said, “sounds good” and that was it.

The project has been a lot of fun as I have spent many a day off buried in archives and online tracking down a list of questions that I can’t find an answer for.

Since the project is to document the important buildings in the city, it has gotten me off the couch and out in the streets, often with Mark and Wendy in tow as we try to capture the building.  This process has attracted building owners, neighbors, and even Saskatoon City Police officers to see what I am up to and then share some of what they know.  It’s been a lot of fun.

The good news is that the photos aren’t lost but the information and research is.  For a couple of days I was torn between recreating the site or just posting the photos here.

From a branding perspective, having my photography under my site and name makes the most sense but I really like being able to browse by neighborhood and creating a resource that is used by a lot of you.  For all intents and purposes my Flickr account does the same thing but I enjoy going through it, researching what I have captured and filling out the site.

The plan is to upload and post 10 archival posts a night to Bridge City and of course one new one each day.  Hopefully the site will be back to where it was (and maybe even better) by late summer.   So if you are one of the people that checked it out and used it as a resource, thanks for reading, commenting, and correcting.  I love the input.

I get asked all of the time why I spend so much time documenting and capturing the city.  Basically as a writer, I find myself writing about what is messed up with the city.  I write about social justice and City Hall.  I deal with politicians who look me in the eye and lie to me.  That kills one’s enthusiasm for the city you live in.

Then I go out with my Pentax K-3 or a cheap point and shoot and I see the city in a different way.  The city slows down.  There is time for coffee and chatting.  I find myself falling in love with this city all over again.  In the end, carrying a camera and shooting some photos or video connects me to the city and it’s people.  That’s still kind of important to me.

Exploring Saskatoon

Last summer on one of the rare days the infection in my leg was under control, I went out walking with Wendy in Mount Royal for several hours we our cameras.  We were just taking in the neighborhood and capturing some of the more interesting buildings (there are not a lot) for Bridge City.  Two things of note while on that walk.  Mount Royal has some of the widest streets in the city which totally messes with the scale of the neighborhood.  Mount Royal is for driving.  Secondly a week later someone asked me if  I was running provincially or municipally against Troy Davies as they had seen Wendy and I out door knocking.

The answer was that I am not running for either but I got a kick out of the observation and question.  I was out trying to get some shots on this ridiculous project I am trying and that is to document every neighborhood in Saskatoon of it’s interesting buildings.  In the process I am learning a lot about each neighborhood and what makes it tick.

Last weekend I created a shot list of almost 200 churches, buildings, and structures that I wanted to capture in 2016, all organized by neighborhood.  This means that if you see Wendy and I out, we are not door knocking or running for office but capturing some of the buildings in the neighborhood for Bridge City.  We have probably parked our car and are walking the neighborhood rather than driving it.

By far the worst neighborhood to photograph so far is Mount Royal.  Not only is it huge but it has several buildings in it that are worth shooting.  They are also evenly distributed across the neighborhood which means that you can’t park and knock off five or six of them quickly like you can in Nutana.  

The blandest neighborhood so far is either Lakeview.  Mostly residential, not much interesting other than Holy Spirit and the Lutheran church, cookie cutter schools, and the access to their lake is a bit of a pain to get into.  There are the McMansion’s but I don’t generally photograph not historic residential.  That and the Saskatoon Police really don’t care about me walking around downtown with a camera but I imagine there would be a call if I started snapping photos of people’s homes in the burbs.

Another one is Westview.  Gorgeous neighborhood with so much character but other than the park and a nameless strip mall, it has almost nothing of interest in it.  It’s weird, I’d like to live in it but it just isn’t that photographic.

Oddly enough, another one that I find bland is Montgomery.  It has the VIA Rail terminal in it but not much in terms of great non-residential architecture.  The school is bland and there isn’t any interesting other buildings.  In the end  I have walked a lot out there and haven’t really had a great payoff.  That being said, it is a great history lesson for Mark as I grill him on street names and why they were significant.

Perhaps the worst thing to capture are schools in that you can really only ever do it over the summer or on weekends.  Some (actually many) of their entrances face the wrong way which means you have limited light to get a good shot before they get overrun by shadows from the homes across the street or you are shooting into the sun.   There are also a couple of churches that are that way.  They face north and their design and landscaping means their entrance is really, really dark and hard to get a good picture of.   That and some are really ugly.  If I was the City of Saskatoon, I’d start banning the warehouse type churches that you see in some neighborhoods.  They really are atrocious.  If churches can’t build something that enhances the neighborhood (and most do), then maybe they should be restricted to the industrial areas if they want to build a warehouse.

Lastly, some of you share my obsession with the architects of great and not so great buildings in Saskatoon.  My biggest goal this spring is to find out a list of Saskatoon and Catholic school board architects without having to go into each school.  It seems to be a well guarded secret.