Tim Van Horn has spent the past four years traveling from coast to coast, armed with his trusty Nikon D300.
He’s got another half-decade to go to complete the Canadian Mosaic, his dream of presenting Canadians with a 36,000-photo canvas of the country’s flag and all that means to be Canadian, an offering he hopes to complete in time for the nation’s 150-anniversary celebrations in 2017.
Van Horn is spending the weekend in Thunder Bay and hopes to photograph as many local faces as he can, adding to the 17,000 head shots he’s already taken, hundreds of which are pasted all over the van – his home on wheels – he’s called home since the project began in 2008.
The Red Deer, Alta native said it’s all about national unity.
“Who are we? What do we look like? My mission is to traverse the landscape over 10 years, meet 36,000 people, which is 0.1 per cent of the entire population, bring us all together in this one big amazing portrait on Canada,” said Van Horn, who set up shop at Hillcrest Park on Friday morning, but plans to zip around the city on a motorcycle shooting at various locales.
Finding that singularity that Canadians can rally around can only be done by visiting as many communities as possible said Van Horn, whose military upbringing created within him a sense of duty to the country and its people.
“This is how I give back, this is how I participate in being part of this country and a citizen,” he said. “That’s my mission, to bring us together and say this is how wonderful life is. This is what we look like, embrace it, embrace one another.”
The trip has been costly to his personal life.
He began his journey with a wife in 2008, but she left, the grind of living 11 months of the year on the road too much to handle.
Today his traveling companions are a pair of dogs, Turbo and Kung-Fu Muc-Muc, who aimlessly wander around as Van Horn seeks new subjects.
Not that he has to work very hard to find them.
The van, plastered in smiling faces, attracts people on its own. In a 15-minute span on Friday, several people came up to the van and at least two readily agreed to take part in the monumental project.
It’s been like that for the past four years.
“Canadians have been really open to me coming up to them. I’d say that about 75 per cent of the time people say yes and agree to be a part of the project. And I think that’s testimony that in 2012 we still trust one another, which is an intrinsic Canadian trait,” the 43-year-old said.
For more information about Van Horn’s trek, visit www.canadianmosaic.ca.
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