Time-In/Time-Out (Waterloo, Ontario)

In 1966, a dam was built across Laurel Creek in the northwest part of the city of Waterloo. At the same time, a 101 hectare section of forested land immediately upstream from the dam was clear cut, leaving only the stumps behind. As the dam became operational in 1967, the cleared land was flooded and became known as the Laurel Creek Reservoir.

Every fall since then, the dam is opened and the reservoir is emptied to make room for the spring melt waters. This exposes the stumps that have now been underwater for some 50+ years. Some of the stumps are firmly anchored in the ground, others only partially, and still others are fully exposed. But all are only visible for a short window of time, until the snow falls and they are covered. When the snow and ice melt in the spring, they are once again submerged.

The sight of these stumps, hundreds of them, sunlit, standing stoically in a huge field of black soil, has intrigued me for years and has inspired these two series of photographs. They were taken over the winter of 2017/2018 when the stumps were exposed and when weather and reservoir bottom conditions permitted access. The Time-Out series depicts the exposed stumps, and the Time-In series, through the use of artistic licence, portrays my interpretation of their time underwater.

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