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St Marks on Salt Spring Island

A twenty minute ferry ride from Crofton on Vancouver Island brings you to Vesuvius on Salt Spring Island. It is a beautiful little island. Farms and small churches cover the landscape. I have photographed many of its churches (all from the outside which of course is way to small a part of the whole story, as the inside is always missing). One church I always drive by admiring it in passing and nearly driving of the winding road because of that is St Marks Anglican church. It is one of the three Anglican churches on this small island. Reading up on some history I found out that it has four cemeteries here and there on the island.  Anyway that is just part of historical development.

These days when going to Salt Spring I often leave my car in Crofton and walk on the ferry at a substantial saving. In Vesuvius I catch a ride and let the day begin. Today, with the idea that the light could be right for a few photos of St Marks on its nicely hilled property, I decided to walk to the ferry. The walk takes an hour and a bit but there is always someone who knows you and wonders whether you’d like a ride. This time it was a Vesuvius local, him and his wife and grand daughter. It was such nice visiting including a beach walk and very pleasant conversation.

But that was after the photo shoot of this little church that has been on my list for nearly a dozen years. Here are some of the photographs.

The construction of this building began in the late eighteen eighties and the church was in use early eighteen nineties. Always looking at gates checking for originality or creativity or voluptuousness or just the light on them, these fit in at least one of those categories. Harry can easily be googled.

It should be nice to take a few photos on the inside, especially since that is the way to do stained glass justice. Perhaps some day, not necessarily another twelve years. There is an incredible amount of information on Salt Spring Island’s history, but one source that I like, partly because it is written so long ago, is here.

It’s a beauty isn’t it.



About Joseph de Lange

Before retirement worked in art galleries, a photo studio, offices, and the trades. Don't travel much anymore but still photograph. For the past 5 years 95% of my photography is done with the phone. My prediction for big cameras: DSLRs and their beautiful lenses and even the smaller mirrorless cameras will be mostly a historical footnote in the not too distant future.

15 responses to “St Marks on Salt Spring Island

  1. I love places like this. I bet it is a wonderful feeling to have finally gone there to photograph it all. Great photos.

    • SSI is one of the prettiest islands around here. Its history goes all over the place and this little church has seen a lot of that history since colonists slowly began to populate the island. I am so glad, Angeline, you like this small portrayal of the little island.

  2. ehpem

    Wow – how could you resist for 12 years? Worth the wait though. I really like these little churches. A very long time ago now I had a contract to document older churches between Prince George and Prince Rupert – a real flying visit to some fantastic little places like this (44 churches in 10 days, including driving up there and back). It was before I really knew how to take pictures, and of course I had to take what light there was on offer. But very memorable none the less. It has left me with a soft spot for these places.

    • On SSI I’d spent half my time racing to catch a ferry, the other half waiting for the ferry it running behind schedule, a few more halfs earning a living, in short there was never much time left for anything else and the sights were mostly looked at in passing. 😉
      What you did on that northern stretch I did in Alberta albeit for my own satisfaction The small Canadian churches all make for landmarks with history and mostly are photogenic to boot. I still find that they are hard to ignore when there is a camera in my pocket.

  3. ehpem

    That sounds like a good project, especially as you were doing it for yourself with no rush or pressure – must have been fun.
    Are you familiar with the black and white photography book “The Byzantine Churches of Alberta” by Orest Semchishen? I have not looked at it since the early 80’s but it has really stuck with me. I just ordered a copy from since your comment reminded me that I have been wanting to look at it again, for years.

    • Orest Semchishen, I remember him for a documentary style portrait photography and do not know much about his books. Am now trying to remember where I looked at this photos. Probably in books of his? or perhaps more likely a magazine. Is this a coffee table book with glossy paper and the beautiful tonal values in the photographs that go with these type of books?

      • ehpem

        My recollection of it is that is a fairly slim almost square format but quite small paperback book with very nice quality printing. All are black and white. It is produced by an Alberta institution – the Museum in Edmonton probably. I think he did a lot of portrait photography too of working people, but I only have that idea from trying to find more in an internet search yesterday – it sounds like his photos might now be in a public collection in Alberta. I am looking forward to seeing the book again.

        • ehpem

          Now that I look again, and only briefly (last time I was searching for the book, not so much about him) I see that he is still alive. An internet search turns up quite a bit of information, in small pieces, but with quite a few of his pictures out there.

          • Yes, I have checked him out. He is the guy whose style reminds me of the documentary work done in the 1930s in USA. Top guy and versatile in his approaches to black and white photography. Does alright with his churches too, I see in images of his work. It’s great revisiting people like these.

  4. beautiful shots! i love historical places too.

    • These little churches that cover the Canadian landscape were built with dedication born of love and great craftsmanship. In that respect they remind me of their big brothers, the old churches, cathedrals, and temples. Your appreciation makes me a happy guy.

  5. Oh wow, Joseph, we do so love the local heritage architecture and this series is a wonderful testament to all the character we have in the locale. Great job here, I really enjoyed this post a lot!!

  6. Madhu

    A real beauty! Love the clean straight lines.

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