Iconic White Rock Pier Destroyed by Windstorm

Lights on the White Rock Pier reflected in the water of Boundary Bay in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada.

lights on the white rock pier at night

Lights on the White Rock Pier (Purchase)

I photographed these lights on the White Rock Pier reflecting off the water of Boundary Bay back in October 2018. I had no idea this would be the last time I would photograph the pier while it was whole. On December 20th, 2018 this part of British Columbia had a historic (in terms of damage) windstorm that damaged the current pier so badly it will eventually be replaced. 300,000 customers lost power (my lights didn’t come on for 30 hours, and I was relatively lucky) and many areas had winds stronger than 100 km/hr (62 mph). The estimated cost of entirely replacing pier is around $16.2 million. The City of White Rock looks to be planning a $5 million fix to get the pier open later this year before replacing the structure entirely.

The White Rock Pier was opened on November 14, 1914. Since then it has become a tourist attraction and one of the main draws to the Marine Drive area of White Rock. I tend to avoid the very busy summer months but this first photograph here was on a quieter evening in the fall where the crowds weren’t an issue, though the pier was still busy. Unfortunately the photograph below shows what it looks like now. There is a large section in the middle of the pier that is completely gone, and there is a lot of damage to the rest of the 104 year old structure. A post I made in 2017 shows a bit more of the pier when it was still intact. Note the marina in the second to last photo on that post and specifically the dock with sailboats that broke free and repeatedly was driven into the pier which caused much of the damage. Some of those sailboats broke apart and sank, the rest washed up on the beach with varying levels of damage.

view of mount baker from white rock pier

Destroyed section of the White Rock Pier

The photograph below shows one of the reasons the pier was popular, it offered not only a nice walk, but great views of the surrounding scenery such as Mount Baker. I photographed this scene in October 2018 during a poor sunset, but with good light to the east.

view of mount baker from white rock pier

View of Mount Baker from the White Rock Pier (Purchase)

This next photograph is from early 2017 and shows the pier in better days just after a nice sunset. Photographed from the East Beach side of the Promenade looking west.

evening view of the white rock pier

View of the White Rock Pier after sunset (Purchase)

This is the White Rock at White Rock Beach that gave the city its name. The White Rock is a 486-ton granite boulder that was left by a retreating glacier (glacial erratic). The rock was once used as a navigational aide for boats as it was a frequent target for seabird guano. Now it is covered in white paint and is a frequent target of graffiti instead.

the white rock of white rock

The White Rock at White Rock Beach (Purchase)

For more photographs of the White Rock Pier and other scenes from the area visit my White Rock Gallery.

Hogs Back Falls on Ottawa’s Rideau River

Hog’s Back Falls, the Rideau River and the Hog’s Back Bridge in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Photographed from Hog’s Back Park.

hogs back falls ottawa rideau river

Hogs Back Falls from Ottawa’s Hogs Back Park (Purchase)

During my trip to Ontario and Québec I visited a waterfall in Ottawa, along the Rideau River, called Hogs Back Falls (or Prince of Wales Falls, officially). Hogs Back Falls are not actually a natural waterfall, and are the result of construction of a waste water channel during the building of the Rideau Canal. Originally this section of the river was a 2000 meter long rapids, some of which is still visible below Hogs Back Falls.

fall foliage above hogs back falls ottawa rideau river

Hog’s Back Falls and Hog’s Back Bridge in Ottawa (Purchase)

The first two photographs here are from the first viewpoint we found in Hogs Back Park. It has a nice view up the Rideau River and looks directly towards Hogs Back Falls. I made this initial composition to try to portray what a visitor would see here. I often start with a “big picture” photograph of an area and then try to work on more detailed compositions of individual elements that make a scene interesting. At this viewpoint we noticed a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) hunting for prey next to a small waterfall below. Another photographer at that spot offered me the use of his 100-400 lens. I declined, but he insisted, so I put the lens on and made a few photographs which did not turn out. This lens was interesting to try, but I also knew this was the wrong angle to photograph the Heron and I could probably do pretty well at a better spot. The 100-400 is a nice lens, and there are times when I’d want to use one, but not enough to buy one. Rather expensive for the amount of use I would get out of it and also quite heavy and large for my already near capacity camera bag (and back). If I was a serious wildlife photographer I’d likely own one already, but until that happens I’ll stick with my 70-200 and the 1.4x extender that I usually have attached (since I moved to a full frame camera).

fall foliage above hogs back falls ottawa rideau river

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) fishing in the Rideau River (Purchase)

After I changed locations to a spot closer to the bridge, I was able to view and photograph the heron much easier than at the first viewpoint. The photograph above is the result. A number of people have picked it as their favourite out of my “top 10” favourite images from 2018 post. I like Herons. Not only do they “pose” nicely and sit still quite often which makes a photograph easier, they seem to have an air of elegance or something about them. Except when they don’t. Years ago I photographed one strutting around near the Capilano Fish Hatchery in North Vancouver (Great Blue Heron at Capilano River). I still quite like that photograph, but I most remember that heron as appearing young and inexperience by trying to eat some discarded gills (from the hatchery) that were laying about. It seems gills are quite rough and hard to swallow, as the heron appeared to choke for about 10 minutes before expectorating the gills back up onto the rocks. I chalked this up to an inexperience Heron, but perhaps they just aren’t that bright?

fall foliage above hogs back falls ottawa rideau river

A Great Blue Heron bites off more than it can chew

The Heron at Hogs Back Falls also had an embarrassing moment in public. At one point it snagged what looked like a Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu) and then tried to swallow it whole, as Herons do. It appears that no matter how willing the Heron, its esophagus was not up to the diameter required for the task, After several inelegant minutes attempting to choke down this Bass, it too was spit back onto the rocks, only to fall into the river. The Heron then returned to fishing for something a bit more manageable. After photographing the Heron we worked our way over the Hogs Back Bridge and photographed the Rideau River and many smaller water falls on the rocks below.

fall foliage above hogs back falls ottawa rideau river

Fall Foliage above the Rideau River and Hogs Back Falls in Ottawa (Purchase)

For more photographs from the Ottawa area visit my Ontario Gallery.

Ambleside Pier in West Vancouver

West Vancouver and the Ambleside Pier in West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

ambleside pier west vancouver evening

Evening at the Ambleside Pier in West Vancouver (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   A few weeks ago I headed into Vancouver to see what fall foliage I could find. This was not a stellar year for foliage around Vancouver or in the Fraser Valley, at least not in the areas where I ventured. I found some good colour in Queen Elizabeth Park, but I have photographed there a lot before. I decided to go to areas that I hadn’t really visited often after that. After going through downtown I went to Ambleside Park in West Vancouver. I had only photographed this location once, and there were promises of a decent sunset and a few subjects I wanted to photograph again with my newer, higher resolution, camera.

   I had seen photographs of the pier before, but didn’t realize how close it was to Ambleside Park – probably less than a 10 minute walk from where I’d parked. On the way to the pier I photographed a few things along the beach, ships in English Bay, and the Lions Gate Bridge. When arriving at the Ambleside Fishing Pier, much of the sunset was gone but it was perfect timing for a blue hour photograph of the pier and parts of West Vancouver to the north. I had to compose around a construction crane but otherwise things went as planned. Ambleside Pier itself is a nice spot to view the surrounding area, and is set up with a table and hose to cut bait for fishing or crab traps, and to clean one’s catch.

sunset ambleside pier west vancouver

Ambleside Pier at Sunset (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   This second photograph of Ambleside Pier is from Ambleside Beach looking west. When I visited the pier there were several groups there fishing and crabbing. One of the crabbers was waiting to pull up their trap as there was a seal hanging out in the area and apparently it is adept at raiding the traps as they come to the surface!

For more photographs of this area visit my Gallery.

Redwood Park Treehouse in Surrey

The Brown brothers’ treehouse at Redwood Park in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada

treehouse at redwood park in surrey bc

The Treehouse at Redwood Park (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   The treehouse at Redwood Park in Surrey, BC was one of the spots I liked to visit with my parents when I was a kid. After a short walk through the woods the treehouse would appear and I always found it interesting to look at. The original treehouse (built in 1878) was constructed by Peter and David Brown, twin brothers who were given the land by their father. They planted many trees on the property instead of farming on it, and lived in the treehouse until their deaths in 1949 and 1958.

   This, unfortunately, is not the same treehouse. The Surrey Parks page says this is a replica of the original treehouse that once stood here, but the sign next to it says it is a different design. Why they would erect a new treehouse that didn’t match the old one, if the old one was too rotten to repair, is not a decision I understand. However, this is still a nice park to walk through, and I still like the new treehouse. I’m sure that kids who are as old now as I was back when I first saw this are just as interested.

redwood park treehouse

Redwoods and Redwood Park Treehouse (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   While the treehouse is the main attraction, there is also a grove of mature Sierra Redwoods (Sequoiadendron giganteum which is also known as the Giant sequoia) at Redwood Park. The Brown brothers filled the area with their favourite trees from around the world. Many of the trees here are labelled with signs bearing their common and latin names. There are a few of these species I plan on photographing this fall as well as many native Maples that look like they’ll be spectacular if the weather is right.

You can view more of my photos from the City of Surrey in my Surrey Gallery.

Southern Gulf Islands Ferry Route Photos

The BC Ferries ship Spirit of Vancouver Island (built in 1994) in Trincomali Channel on the way to Tsawwassen from Victoria (Swartz Bay).

spirit of vancouver island ferry bc ferries

Spirit of Vancouver Island in Trincomali Channel (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   I’ve been on a number of ferry rides that were in really rainy or windy weather which makes roaming the deck rather uncomfortable. For my last trip to Salt Spring Island, however, it was a nice sunny day that wasn’t too warm and the winds were calm. After the first 30 minutes of my ferry trip from Tsawwassen to Long Harbour on Salt Spring Island, I spent the rest of the time walking the deck with my camera.

sturdies bay galiano island

Sturdies Bay Ferry Terminal on Galiano Island (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   I was not on a direct ferry to Salt Spring Island on this trip, but on a Southern Gulf Islands route with BC Ferries that stops at a number of islands (Galiano, Mayne, and Pender) before reaching Long Harbour on Salt Spring. The first stop was Sturdies Bay on Galiano Island. I was on the deck of the BC Ferries ship Salish Eagle which provided a pretty steady platform to photograph from while we were docked. I made this panorama of Sturdies Bay after most of the cars had disembarked onto Galiano but before we had left for the next island.

galiano island house cliffs sandstone

Sandstone Cliffs on Galiano Island (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   Also at Sturdies Bay on Galiano were these sandstone cliffs that had a lot of interesting patterns and shapes. The house on this point has a great view but I bet things can get pretty wild in a good storm!

village bay terminal mayne island

Village Bay Ferry Terminal on Mayne Island (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   The next stop after Galiano was the nearby Mayne Island and the Village Bay Ferry Terminal (above). I am not sure if this was a normal delay or not, but we had to wait for about 30 minutes to dock at the Village Bay Terminal. This did give me a good chance to photograph various other BC Ferry vessels that were passing by on their way to other destinations. The photo below shows the BC Ferries vessel Spirit of British Columbia (built in 1993) navigating Trincomali Channel on the way to Victoria (Swartz Bay) from Tsawwassen. The island in the background is Prevost Island (front) with Salt Spring Island behind.

spirit of british columbia bc ferry

Spirit of British Columbia in Trincomali Channel (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   The Queen of Cumberland (below) is an Intermediate-class Ferry which left Mayne Island heading for Victoria, BC while I was still waiting to dock at Mayne Island. A lot of the ferries that travel between the various gulf islands are these smaller types of I-class ferries.

queen of cumberland bc ferry

Queen of Cumberland Leaving Mayne Island (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

My last stop before arriving at Salt Spring Island was Otter Bay on Pender Island. While docked there I photographed the BC Ferries vessel Coastal Celebration (built in 2007) navigating Swanson Channel on the way to Tsawwassen from Victoria (Swartz Bay). Salt Spring Island (and Mount Maxwell/Baynes Peak) is in the background.

coastal celebration bc ferries

BC Ferries Vessel Coastal Celebration (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

More photographs of various means of travel can be found in my Planes, Trains and Automobiles Gallery.

Ganges Harbour on Salt Spring Island

Boats in Ganges Harbour on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada.

ganges harbour on salt spring island boats yachts

Ganges Harbour on Salt Spring Island (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   Earlier this year I made my second trip to Salt Spring Island – one of British Columbia’s Southern Gulf Islands. During my last trip I also had limited time, so I was able to check out some new areas this time around and more thoroughly explore some others. One area I spent more time in on this trip was Ganges. Ganges is an unincorporated town on Salt Spring Island and has most of the shopping and small businesses on the island. Ganges is also known for the Salt Spring Island Market in the summer. Ganges Harbour has a lot of marinas, boardwalks, and small shops along it’s waterfront. I spent a few hours there making photographs the morning of the second day on this trip. The first photograph here shows some of the small yachts and boats in one marina, with Moby’s Pub and a few waterfront homes in the background.

boarding harbour air seaplane at ganges harbour

Boarding a Seaplane at Ganges Harbour (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   In addition to boats and marinas Ganges Harbour has a small Seaplane Aerodrome used by Harbour Air and Seair Seaplanes. I don’t know where this Harbour Air Single Otter flight was departing to, but it likely was heading to Vancouver or YVR (the Vancouver area’s main airport).

purple sea star Pisaster ochraceus in ganges harbour

Purple Sea Star (Pisaster ochraceus) in Ganges Harbour (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   This Purple Sea Star (Pisaster ochraceus) and the Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) were both in the intertidal zone below the boardwalk. I do enjoy photographing Herons as they tend to move slowly when hunting and make goods subjects. I didn’t have to worry about the Sea Star moving around either! I watched the heron for about 20 minutes, and recorded some video of it hunting as well. Apparently if being filmed, Herons know to grab their snack and immediately run out of the frame to eat it. I saw this Heron catch a number of small fish, but it always walked out of the frame before swallowing them, unfortunately. While photographing the Heron I was switching to different subjects such as various boats and the Sea Plane taxiing for takeoff before switching back to the Heron.

great blue heron hunting at ganges harbour

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) Hunting at Ganges Harbour (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

Stay tuned for a number of other blog posts with photographs from Salt Spring but if you can’t wait – you can see all my photographs from the island in my Salt Spring Island Gallery.

Spring Views at Saint Mary Lake on Salt Spring Island

Rowboat on the shore of Saint Mary Lake on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada.

boat on shore of saint mary lake on salt spring island

Rowboat at St. Mary Lake on Salt Spring Island (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   Last week I headed back to Salt Spring Island here in British Columbia for a 3 day trip to photograph and visit friends. Last time I was on Salt Spring was in March of last year, and it was nice seeing the views with green grass and the leaves on the trees! I also had better weather overall this time around, with only some rain on my main photography day. As with any weather situation there is always something to photograph, so while I didn’t get as many of the wide, sweeping, ocean shoreline views as I’d wanted, the thin overcast cloud did work for many other situations.

saint mary lake on salt spring island

St. Mary Lake on Salt Spring Island (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   One of many locations I visited for photography was Saint Mary Lake. St. Mary Lake is between Ganges and Vesuvius, and serves as both a recreation area (fishing, swimming, boating) and drinking water supply. I was not able to find all that many publicly accessible spots around the lake to photograph, but this one along North End Road gave me these views of the docks, swimming platforms and general scenery at the lake.

st mary lake on salt spring island

Private Dock at St. Mary Lake on Salt Spring Island (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   Most of the boats I came across at various locations on Salt Spring Island were not secured – usually just pulled up on shore. This kind of honour system would not likely work well in Vancouver! This boat in the first photograph was not tied up either. I’m sure the majority of the time this works out well for the boat owners on the island, but there was a sign next to this one asking for a boat to be returned that, evidently, had been liberated from it’s unsecured location.

swimming platform st mary lake on salt spring island

Swimming Platform at St. Mary Lake on Salt Spring Island (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

More photographs of this island can be found in my Salt Spring Island Gallery.

Bee Hives in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley

Bee hives in an Abbotsford, British Columbia apiary.

bee hives in a fraser valley abbotsford apiary

Bee Hives in Abbotsford (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   I was photographing a scene with farmland and Mount Baker the other day in Abbotsford, BC. This was to be my first stop of many on the way through Mission, the Harrison area and Agassiz. Some horses came over to the fence to say hello, but wandered off after they realized I didn’t have any treats or anything for them. With the horses came the flies, which was annoying. I made this photograph of the bee hives in the field (probably 60 feet away from me) soon after. I made 3 exposures. The first two were like this, and the third is very blurry. As I was making the 3rd exposure a bee flew partly up my nose (I thought it was a fly). After a failed “one nostril push” maneuver to get it out I grabbed it with my fingers. The result of this was a bee stinger lodged in that space between my upper lip and my recently invaded nostril.

   I had not been stung by a bee since I was a kid, and it is still the unpleasant experience that I recall. It felt a bit like I’d been hit in the teeth with something. I quickly got in my car (I’d been standing next to it) and looked in the rear view mirror. Sure enough, there was a bee stinger in my face. I tried to flick it out with a fingernail but it stayed put. I then remembered reading that you can get them out with a credit card or something flat like that. If you grab a stinger with your fingers, the round part above the surface will act a bit like a turkey baster – and you’ll inject all the venom into the wound. I wished to avoid this, and a quick flick with a credit card got the stinger out of my face. All in all it was probably only in there for 10-15 seconds. Not having had a sting for 25+ years, I wasn’t sure how my body was going to react. Things like this can swell quit a bit, so I cut my trip short (after only about 25 minutes) to go home and endure whatever messy aftermath was to befall me rather than it playing out in public. I didn’t want a golf ball sized swelling on my face when I was trying to photograph either. So I grabbed the freezer pack from my cooler, stuck it on my face, and drove home. As it turned out I only had some minor swelling and it all settled down after about 30 minutes (the ice probably helped). I went out again to shoot a local park after dinner. I guess it was a relatively good outcome that the worst of this was that I had to postpone my trip one day. I’m also glad that I managed to complete shooting Mount Baker and the farmland successfully so I won’t have to return to that spot!

For more photographs of bees and other critters take a look at my Animals and Wildlife Gallery.