For several years I lived in North Vancouver at the eastern end of the north shore of Vancouver Harbour. It is a beautiful area at the foot of Mount Seymour, replete with forests, plenty of wildlife, salmon spawning streams and rivers and a little gem called Deep Cove.
To get to North Vancouver you must cross one of the two bridges across the harbour. The closest one to home was the Second Narrows Bridge which enters the north shore next to a large deep sea dock and a marina on the west side and a marine and light industrial area on the east. Each time I crossed the bridge the inevitable question would go through my mind … “I wonder what’s down there?”. It was only 10 minutes from home. After 3 years of that almost daily process, the explorer and street photographer finally asserted dominance and sent me exploring. There wasn’t much to see really, warehouses marine repair shops with large KEEP OUT signs etc. But tucked away on Orwell Street was a row of nameless mini workshop spaces all shuttered up … except one, with this staring out the doorway looking all to much like a hungry monster awaiting its next meal.
Too good to pass up I wondered in to find a fellow sorting some tools and asked if he minded if I took some pictures of the monster in his doorway. “Picture away to your hearts content” he replied, and I did. After a few shots of the car, we talked for a while; his name was Steve and he was actually a custom paint specialist, but too many years of inhaling fumes had made him medically sensitive to paint, so he’d gone into custom restoration body work. His reputation as a custom body man had gotten around to the extent that there were students from the local Polytechnical College volunteering to work with him just for the learning experience. I wasn’t hard to see why; he was a friendly, easy going, gregarious guy who would happily and lovingly explain what he was doing.
Partway through the conversation he commented “I’m going to be doing some welding in a few minutes if you want some pictures of that”.
“DUUUHHH … YES!!!”
Over the next several months I made many trips to see what he was up to next. What follows is a collection of my favourite images from those visits. And yes, I made him an album in appreciation for his kindness and generosity for letting me hang out in his workspace and shoot pictures.
On my last visit he was no longer there. The space was actually on loan from a friend of his who needed it back to store his vintage Mustang sports car. I tried his cell number but got no answer. At least I got the album to him before he left and always wonder what’s he working on now and what gems the camera’s not capturing.
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