Canadians have long had a fascination with the quest for our ‘Canadian Identity’. For most of these 150 years many have tried to put their finger on it, to come up with a magic phrase that finally encapsulates who we are. But as the decades roll on, as the population grows and diversifies, as more and more layers are added, the "answer" becomes more and more elusive. While a very few have gotten close enough to nibble around the edges, perhaps Roy MacGregor has most eloquently summed up the hopelessness of the pursuit when he reflected on the difficulty of getting a grasp of the place; “It is a country you can only taste. And for a good many of us, all that does is increase the appetite for more.”
And then there was this; “A friend once said, almost as a joke that “Canada is the painting that Tom Thomson never finished.” I like the sentiment expressed there. The final strokes forever out of reach."
While on the road shooting many of the photographs for this project, I had a number of reference books on board, including several by Canadian journalist, author and chaser of the essential elements of the Canadian DNA, Roy MacGregor. Devouring them as I travelled, passages began leaping off the page. They spoke evocatively and elegantly of the vast potpourri of bits that define us. Realizing how beautifully they might fit into this title, I was delighted when Roy was persuaded to allow me to use his words. As I think you will agree, they add an entirely new depth and texture that would have been missing in their absence. The pair of quotes above will set the stage for you.
John McQuarrie, Photographer