Just a few parking spaces away from the Sooke News Mirror office, a unique kind of vehicle sat in the lot – not an uber-rare Ferrari, but a camper van tattooed with 40,000 photos of Canadians from across the country.
If you took two steps back and looked at it again, you noticed all photos were shot with different backgrounds to create a massive Canadian (and quite clever) flag.
This was no prank or some kind of glorified company-sponsored advertising. In fact, it’s the work of photographer Tim Van Horn, who left his home of Red Deer, Alta. in October 2008 to embark on a year-long journey across Canada to photograph Canadians in their daily lives.
He called it the Canadian Mosaic Project.
Six-and-a-half years later, he’s still on his epic mission of photographing 54,000 Canadians “on the sidewalk of life” from every province and territory in Canada.
“This is my creative tour of duty to do something good for the country, and to bring us all together and go. This is the people you live with, these are the characters that you share the story of life with,” Horn said.
Horn, who was in the Sooke area for 48 hours, said he was happy to pass through town again and see how people and things have changed since his last visit in 2011 – even though his goal at heart didn’t.
“It’s great to reconnect and do a time lapse of then and now, and see what’s changed in these people’s lives and how they’ve changed,” he said. “Not only is this a visual documentation of the Canadian cultural identity, but also of the characters that tell the story of who we are and what life really looks like.”
Horn said it was his father who helped develop a sense of duty in him – to create something that had a positive impact nation-wide.
“My dad was in the Armed Forces, so I travelled all over the country within the military institution,” he said, adding that while that was a source of inspiration, he wasn’t really “fit” for military service, as he likes to walk more to the beat of his own drum.
“I took that sense of duty and I married it with my art, and came up with something that we needed here in the country to unite us and help make people who’ve just arrived in Canada feel like they’re a part of this country,” Horn said.
The end mission? On Canada Day 2017, in Victoria, at Mile Zero of the Trans-Canada Highway, a 12-metre wired-for-sound multimedia pavilion on wheels will launch out across the land on a 365-day tour to highlight the project’s stories.
To learn more about the Canadian Mosaic Project, please go online to canadianmosaic.ca or follow on Twitter: @canadianmosaic for more info.