What Once Was Lost Has Now Been Found

By Jonathan Timar
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A long time ago now, nearly nine years ago in fact I travelled across this great land of mine by train. I had wanted to make the trip on The Canadian as the train/route is called ever since I was a kid and I read a book by Eric Wilson set on that very train. The book was kind of magical to me, and so when finally at the age of seventeen I had the opportunity to make the trip with two friends, I didn’t even hesitate.

I had grand plans for the trip. An internet geek even back then I vowed to keep a travel journal and transcribe it to a website, complete with lots of pictures of my travels. Well, I kept the journal, and one day I will finally get around to editing all of my notes together into something readable and half way compelling (at this moment I have a mild feel of anxiety because I am not 100% sure of the journals location), but alas, the pictures didn’t turn out exactly as I planned.

You see, I wanted to buy a new camera for the trip. At the time digital was just getting going, and there was nothing out there that was affordable or really all that good, and being kind of traditionalist anyway (not anymore, digital is better than any tradition) I had my heart set on a new film SLR, the Canon Elan 7, to be exact. Alas, with my meagre savings I was faced with a choice: Purchase a new camera and stay home, or don’t and travel the nation. Guess which one I chose?

Luckily for me one of my friends graciously lent me an extra camera she had. It was a Vivtar point and shoot, with an atrocious 38-70mm lens or something next to useless like that. It was painfully slow, and there was absolutely no way to know if it had focused or not. But it was what she had, and I was grateful for it. So, armed with a bag full of ISO 400 film, I set off across the country.

I took a lot of pictures of the various places I visited. The Rocky Mountains, Jasper, Winnipeg, the Montreal International Jazz Festival and the Montreal Botanical Gardens, Toronto during a garbage strike (it stunk), and finally the amazing Prince Edward Island including the famous Green Gables.

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    When I got home I, being a poor teenager, got only the first two rolls of film developed, chosen at random. They didn’t turn out so well, and I was pretty disappointed to say the least. All of them were blurry, even as 4X6 prints, underexposed, or overexposed, grainy, you name it, they just kinda sucked. Nothing really reminded me at all of how it actually was to be there. So I stored the rest of the film away and pretty much gave up on it.

    But as it happened I came across two of the remaining rolls from that trip the other day, and curiosity got the better of me and I took them in and had them developed and scanned onto a CD for the rather obscene price of $11 a roll (No kidding!). I’d like to say it was worth it, but… Well, I’ll let this picture speak for itself:

    Canada By Train
    Canada By Train

    Believe it or not, that is the best picture of the whole lot, and that’s after a lot of work in Photoshop.

    So I really see no alternative but to at this very moment make a solemn vow to repeat this trip at my earliest opportunity.