Walter Thorne at the launch of Kitimat Chronicles III. (Robin Rowland)

A big crowd turned out Wednesday night, January 25, 2017 for the launch of Kitimat Chronicles III, the third volume in the self published history of the Kitimat valley and region by Walter Thorne and Dirk Mendel, the follow up to the popular Kitimat Chronicles I and Kitimat Chronicles II (Good Reads links)

Jim and Walter Thorne at the launch of Kitimat Chronicles III, January 25, 2017. (Robin Rowland)

    The stories that Walter and Derk tell include:
  • The story of Haisla hereditary chief and famous carver Sammy Robinson
  • The voyage to Douglas Channel by Spanish Captain Jacinto Caamano in 1792
  • The story of the Wakita family from Second World War internment to business leadership in Kitimat
  • The teachers who worked in the Haisla Nation Kitamaat Village in the early days
  • The story of Kitimat photographer Max Patzelt
  • The 1974 and 1975 avalanche tsunamis
  • The hotsprings in the region
  • The track of the Maori Paru from New Zealand to London to the coast of British Columbia
  • The more than 4,000 year history of logging in the Kitimat Valley
  • The life and times of former Kitimat mayor Joanne Monaghan
  • Kitimat’s connection to Russia, Virus Bering and the Russian trading network before the US purchased Alaska
  • The tense days of the 1976 CASAW wildcat strike at the Alcan aluminum plant

Jim Thorne listens to the presentation. (Robin Rowland)

Walter Thorne answers questions about Kitimat Chronicles III. (Robin Rowland)

Kitimat Chronicles are available from the bookstore at the Kitimat Museum & Archives in Kitimat and Misty River Books in Terrace,

I haven’t been blogging that much in the past several months, while I was selling my house in Toronto and moving to British Columbia and then settling in. With most of that completed, I am now resuming my various focused blogs.

As well:

Essay for The Kitimat Northern Sentinel

A different vision of Kitimat’s future

My ideas on the how concept of a creative class can help a small town.

Recent Photo blogs

Fall colours in Kitimat

Firefighters battle house fire

My ocean view

Tao of News

Garbage in  Garbage Out: How bad data will cripple the future of news

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I wasn’t assigned to cover the Olympic torch relay on the evening of Thursday Dec. 17, 2009, but ran right into it as I was heading from work to work out at the downtown YMCA.

I got to College subway station and saw the crowd waiting for the torch. 
As I
was preparing to make my way through the crowd to the Y, I heard yelling. Then I saw that a group of demonstrators had rushed onto Yonge
Street south of College yelling slogans like “No Olympics on stolen native land”  and waving signs.

I didn’t have my main photo gear but  had the trusty small camera I always carry in a fanny pack, the Panasonic FZ28.


With the FZ28, as I have in the past, I pushed the Panasonic Lumix to its limit to shoot the demonstration using available light.  ISO 1600, EV +1.5, shutter priority at 1/40 and 1/50 of a second.

The crowd then congregated at Yonge and
College Streets.


Demonstrators opposing the Olympic torch relay gather at Yonge and
College streets in Toronto on Thursday night.  (Robin Rowland/CBC)

As the demonstrators moved up Yonge Street, I called the CBC news desk to tell them what was going on. 

Brett Gundlock of The National Post grabbed shot of a demonstrator as I passed by talking on my cell phone to the CBC Live Desk.


Toronto police at first tried and failed to stop the demonstration at Yonge and Grovesnor Streets when the protesters ran into the first two police cruisers escorting the torch parade.  (Robin Rowland/CBC)

Further up Yonge Street, a cordon of police officers with bicycles stopped the protest a block south of Wellesley Street.


Police officers create a bicycle cordon to stop the demonstration before the protesters could reach the torch relay. (Robin Rowland/CBC)

The torch relay reached the blockade and waited for about half an hour. Then the organizers and police decided to reroute the relay across Wellesley and then down University Avenue to its destination of Toronto City Hall.


A few hundred demonstrators shouting “No Olympics on stolen native land” stopped the Olympic torch relay on Toronto’s Yonge Street Thursday night, forcing the relay to be rerouted. Here the lights of the lead police escort vehicle shine through a demonstrator’s banner.  (Robin Rowland/CBC)

After about 20 minutes, the protest leaders called on their followers to disperse, but it was about another half hour after that they did leave and traffic resumed on Yonge Street.

Related link
More photos of the protest  from Brett Gundlock on his blog

In Toronto, the place to be late on Halloween night–for adults–is Church Street, the heart of the city’s “gay village” (although most gay people who live in the neighborhood  still call it “the ghetto”). 

Just a few years ago, when the city began closing off Church Street for the traditional gay and lesbian celebration of drag and costume, the celebrations were largely confined to the city’s LGBT community.  Now all that has changed.  Like Pride weekend in the summer, the celebration of scary diversity now draws people from all over the Greater Toronto Area and this year what appeared to be many straight couples joined the parade of costumes.

(Times have changed since the days  in the 1960s and early 1970s when a mob with smelly eggs and rotten tomatoes would gather to pelt  the drag queens  and others entering the bars on Yonge Street on Halloween.  At the same time, as seen in in this 1973 report from CBC News, as shown on CBC Archives,  “Drag Queens on Halloween” the  gay pride movement was already growing. (Runs 8:24 and requires Windows Media Player) )

Halloween was on a weekend this year and that meant Church St. would be even more crowded.  So I headed down to Church St.

 With the experience of  Pride in my mind,  I knew that several hundred thousand people crowded into three blocks make it hard to use even the sturdiest of DSLRs.

 So instead,  I packed my carry with me everywhere camera, a Panasonic Lumix FZ28.

In my opinion,  the FZ28 is a perfect back up point and shoot camera. I can carry it in a fanny pack, whip it out, and use the 18x optical zoom to get a good shot. Past experience has shown that I can push the FZ28 pretty far.  So on Halloween night in all those crowds, I had a small camera that was fairly unobtrusive which meant I could get candids.

Most of the public would ask someone to stop,  so the photographers could take their pictures. (and there were usually a crowd of photographers with everything from Iphones to DSLRs complete with flash and Fong hoods as seen in this shot as a flash goes off as photographers capture some high feathered drag performers.)


The basic settings I was using for the FZ28  were:

  • ISO 1600
  • 1/40 second, shutter priority
  • Exposure value  +1.5

Once I got home,  I ran all the images through Noise Ninja  before processing the images in PhotoShop CS4. In most  cases, other than increasing the exposure value even further in CS4 Camera Raw, I made minimal adjustments  (colour temperature was tweaked slightly only in a couple of the images). For those images that did not look that good in full colour, I converted to black and white in Camera Raw and those came out looking as if they could have been taken anytime from the 1950s to the present.

Shooting available light wasn’t really that scary after all and, of course, available light gives you a much better feel for the atmosphere for the night of All Hallows on the darkened streets of Toronto.

To see a complete slide show of the best images from Halloween on Church St. 2009, see the show on my PhotoShelter site.

Or you can check out the thumbnails as well