The Minas Basin book was published in September with a book launch for the employees who contributed to the book at the Churchill House in Hantsport. It was well attended and at times pretty emotional when each individual looked through their complementa
In April 2013 we started the work on a book to celebrate the life, in good and in bad times, of an iconic company: Minas Basin Pulp and Power , (incorporated in 1927 as Minas Basin Pulp and Paper) which stopped operations of the liner board mill on 14 December 2012. This was a devastating loss to the employees and of the Town of Hantsport. The mill had provided employment for generations of families in the community. Sometimes 3 generations were working at the mill at the same time. This closure followed the shutting down of the Gypsum mine and the sea ship gypsum loading facility in Hantsport about 12 months earlier. Hence a double whammy.
I photographed both facilities in December 2012 and when I heard that the paper mill was shutting down I asked if I could photograph the interior which was permitted in early February 2013. Accompanied by George Bishop, previous CEO of the company and Terry Gerhardt, current Vice Presdent Operations, I photographed the now silent mill.
When I showed Terry the images a few days later, they brought back memories to him and a story or two, giving me the idea to start up a project of collecting anecdotes from laid-off staff and retirees based on the photography. When I showed the photographs to George Bishop I proposed to make a book with photography and anecdotes thus collected. The upshot of this was that we decided to create a book to celebrate the life of the company through good and bad times. He offered to write its history, his brother Roy Bishop will write the story of the hydro power generation, I will do my collection of anecdotes. There is a chapter called "Aftermath" that describes the complexities and sensitivities of winding down the employment as well as the capital stock of the mill. Janet Thomas writes a section on the former as she was the HR person dealing with the people and Terry Gerhardt as VP Operations will write a section on the elimination of the capital stock. Gaspereau Press will do the typography, lay-out and design.
We held a meeting that brought together a number of past employees to explain to them what the ideas behind this book are and to ask them for their cooperation. Thus a new project was operationally launched. I'll keep you posted on this Blog.
July 11, 2015
A lot of water has gone under the bridge since I penned the first part of the blog. The project was interrupted twice first for 4 months in 2014 due to a total replacement of my right knee and then more recently due to a triple cardiac bypass that laid me up for a longer period. Nevertheless George Bishop completed his essay: "How it came to be" richly illustrated with historical photography. I completed 23 interviews and took 23 portraits of ex Minas Basin Pulp and Power employees. Janet Thomas and Terry Gerhardt wrote their thoughts about the aftermath of the closing and now we await the delivery of the printed book by thinned of the month. George and I saw the proofs and it is looking very promising. We are particularly grateful to Don Connolly, host of CBC Halifax Information Morning who wrote his impressions of the manuscript that we can use as a teaser on the back of the book. Here it is.:
The authors have taken the title of this book from mill employee Beth Caldwell. I grew up in a mill town and thought she might also have said; "We thought it would last forever".
In my hometown its Irish owners closed Bathhurst Pulp and Paper overnight after 100 years of uninterrupted production. No one bore witness to the last days of this business, which sustained five generations in Northern New Brunswick. Today the mill site is a flat grey empty space.
What a service this book is to Hantsport and the people who founded, built and worked at Minas Basin. In this book we find the history not only of a company but a community.
George Bishop's clear and appreciative history of the early years of this Jodrey enterprise explains the roots of the mill's place in the town and in the province. Dick Groot's choice to have so many employees share their experiences puts real blood in the veins of the story. Read their names and see their faces ....they are Nova Scotians not bitter at their losses, but proud of their work at Minas. And the pictures of the plant, after its closure but still intact....such strange beauty in those stilled machines.
Would that all of us had such a book about the mills that sustained our hometowns.
Don Connolly, Host CBC Information Morning, Halifax.
I finally got up my courage and started to build the website for my LightThrough Studio. It is in its infancy but contains sufficient essential information to get an idea about my photographic interests and it will be further developed as I am getting ideas and what I hope will be interesting feedback from my audience.
First some remarks about the title "Eye Opener". It reflects my take on photography and is the main driver of my work. For me good photography is good if it has an arresting effect on the viewer. This effect may occur as a consequence of composition, tonality, or subject or all of those combined. I strive to achieving this, primarily by the subjects I chose but sometimes just for composition or tonality. Of course really great photography combines these three elements into one. But great photography is rare. I must think of an interview given by Richard Avedon on Cartier Bresson http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZSZLzGNPBQ. He states that the difference between him and Cartier Bresson is that the latter made many great images while he himself feels that he made maybe a dozen or so in his career. So I am not discouraged that I cannot claim any great photographs, I follow my concept and may be some time I'll succeed. Meanwhile I am having a great deal of joy from the pursuit of this dream. I meet incredibly interesting people and learn everyday something more about producing an eye opening image.