The first time I gazed onto Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet, I was struck by the surprising juxtaposition it offered. In the foreground, heavy, oversized metal tankers sleeping in the bay’s choppy waters, and in the background the lush, sweeping peeks of Vancouver’s coastal mountains. There is a harsh kind of splendour in this view of the man-made and the natural, side by side, the balance so easily tipped. After some time, however, I got used to the view of Burrard Inlet; the boats looked more at home and less intrusive in their resting places. Sometimes I still notice how big, how heavy they seem in this landscape, but for the most part it’s a fleeting thought.
I was reminded of my initial impression of Vancouver the other day on an assignment to take some fly-fishing photographs. At the mouth of the Seymour River, nature flows straight into industry. Steel cranes, shipping docks and the shock of polluted salt water colliding with the fresh mountain river water dominate the scene. Further upstream on the Capilano, it’s a different scenario. There is no visible sign of the industry below; the rich smell of the forest and garble of the river drown out the presence of the city, making it easy to forget that there is a fragile point where these two things meet.