In the fall of 1976 I took part in an interesting directed studies in the SFU Communications Department. Professor Lynn Vardeman had found out that the Burnaby Public Library was setting up an archives, where none had existed before. Their initial plan was two-fold ... to aquire and catalogue old pictures, and to document mid-1970s Burnaby for inclusion in the collection. Lynn approached the library with the idea of students doing the current photography. They were receptive, and agreed to pick up the costs for supplies.
Most of us that ended up in the class had been in others headed up by Lynn. CMNS499 was a 15 credit course, which constituted a full semester's load. The city was divided up into zones, and we each took a couple. We had a list from the library of must-haves: stores, businesses large and small, houses, apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, civic landmarks and so on. We all worked very hard to find the most interesting subjects to capture in our lenses that we could in suburban Burnaby, admittedly not the easiest thing in the world. One coup on my part was getting permission to go into the Lower Mainland Regional Correctional Centre (more commonly known as Oakalla Prison) and photograph the grounds and building exteriors. We decided to increase the work load by adding on 5 photo essays, which allowed us much more creativity than the basic library requirements. I can remember more than one evening entering the darkroom after dinner and not emerging until the next morning, woozy from breathing in photo chemicals all night.
It is 2015 now, and Simon Fraser University is celebrating its 50th anniversary. This got me to thinking. I decided that it would be fun to drive around Burnaby for an afternoon and try and recreate some of the photos that I had taken 38 years ago. As it turned out, I spent three days out there. It was interesting and challenging. Some subjects were just plain gone. Others were almost unrecognizable. Some were hard to duplicate because of new development, grown up trees or hedges and that kind of thing. Many times I couldn't duplicate the exact angle of the original because I had probably taken it by standing in the middle of a quiet road that was now a four-lane artery overloaded with non-stop traffic. But I tried.
It was an enjoyable and creative time in my life, and I'd like to share it with you. I've taken some of the new photos and put them on this web site, along with the originals. There's also photos from some of the essays. Please take a gander. Hope you like.
- Paul Norton [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Then and Now
Here's my first set of 2015 photos, along with their 1976 counterparts. I may add more, so please check back.
To start your journey down [my] memory lane, go HERE.
The Haunted House
By far my favourite photo essay was set in an abandoned house on Sperling Avenue. I used a lot of effects on this one, with some effective results, I thought. Although many of my photos were lost in a basement flood, most of the ones in this essay miraculously survived.
Please take a look HERE.
The Rally at SFU
During part of the semester for this course there was a strike by clerical workers at SFU and elsewhere in Burnaby. There was an protest rally one foggy day in the main academic quadrangle. I was in attendance, documenting it on film.
All my surviving photos from this essay are HERE.
A.J. 'Stoo' Born
You can see many of them HERE.
You can view the entire output of the 'Burnaby Public Library Contemporary Visual Archive' on the Heritage Burnaby web site. Just click on the logo.
I had a few documents from the course that I found in my files.
My Final Report on the course [pdf] is available HERE.
A Letter from Oakalla Prison allowing me to photograph the grounds [pdf] is available HERE.