Seeing as Canada Day is coming up, I felt it was time to publish something just recently rediscovered in a half-forgotten sketchbook.
Drawn on the right is the third incarnation of the Hotel Vancouver, built from 1929-39. 17 storeys high, the monumental hotel was inspired by French Renaissance châteaux with touches of the Scottish baronial. This quintessentially Canadian style was popular during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, exemplified in the grand railway hotels built by rival companies Canadian Pacific (CP) and Canadian National (CN). Read more
Darkness had fallen and driving snow whipped against the windshield as my uncle drove down a familiar stretch of Highway 401 from the airport. Less than 10 hours earlier I had stood waiting at a boarding gate in Heathrow, bound not for the warm temperatures of subtropical Hong Kong, but the winter chill of Toronto. It was December 2008 and death had struck the family two weeks before Christmas. Read more
Stretching 800 metres uphill from the financial district, the Central – Mid-levels Escalator snakes through one of Hong Kong’s oldest and most fascinating neighbourhoods. Conceived by engineers in the late 80s as a creative solution to solve the area’s traffic woes, it is billed as the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world. Read more
I have always loved maps. During my childhood summers in Canada I collected illustrated maps of major North American cities, meticulously hand-drawn and painted by the aptly named company Unique Media. Somewhere stashed away in my cupboards are aerial depictions of Toronto, Vancouver, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, along with more general maps of the US and Canada. Unique Media also did a fabulous world map, which graced the wall of my bedroom in the days before Plus Ultra. Read more
Yogyakarta holds a small handful of short but vivid memories. The immense scale of Borobudur, its stupas carved in black andesite, rising from an emerald green countryside blanketed with palms; rows of hand-carved furniture lining a dusty street, puttering vehicles kicking up clouds of ochre; and standing wide-eyed at the foot of Merapi, beside a large sign warning of the danger ahead. This beautiful but lethal giant, at once life-giving and brutally destructive, was the first volcano I had ever seen. Read more
As a fifteen-year-old, being in Montréal for the first time was an unforgettable experience. I was captivated by the beauty of the old town, its diverse cultural scene, and the distinct meld of European flair and North American optimism. My family had booked a hotel room somewhere along Sherbrooke, between the downtown skyscrapers and the slopes of Mont Royal. Although I did have a camera at the time (one of those tiny ones that used film), something about the city inspired me to record this scene in my sketchbook.