A Bad Day With A Camera

Back in Blackie

Today went better than yesterday. By that I mean I found the town I was looking for on the first try. Okay, third try. I struck out twice on Blackie, Alberta, yesterday because I was arsed if I could remember its name. Thank you to Google Maps for helping me locate the town for today’s outing. I have to admit that I was tempted to turn around and drive back because the weather was looking increasingly bleak as I got closer to my destination.

Whole Lotta Nothin’, Landscape, 5km north of Blackie, Alberta, 2024-03-05
Lonesome Tree 01, Hwy 24, Vulcan County, Alberta,
Whole Lotta Nothin’, Portrait,
5km north of Blackie, Alberta,
Lonesome Tree 04, Hwy 24, Vulcan County, Alberta,
Bin a long time comin’ 01, Vulcan County, Alberta, 2024-03-05
Lonesome Tree 03, Hwy 24, Vulcan County,
Alberta, 2024-03-05
Lonesome Tree 02, Hwy 24, Vulcan County,
Alberta, 2024-03-05

A reminded myself of the point of this blog and kept rolling, trying not to think of how empty the skies would be in every image. I’ll admit the empty skies worked well for the lonesome tree.

Cargill Elevator, Blackie, Alberta, 2024-03-05

Blackie is one tired-looking town. If it had a heydey, it was about thirty years ago or more. There is still a school and a hockey arena, but the local services are dwindling.

Blackie Foods 01, Blackie, Alberta, 2024-03-05
Blackie Foods 02, Blackie, Alberta, 2024-03-05

Blackie Foods is in an old Alberta Liquor Control Board (ALCB) outlet. You’re really old if you remember buying your hooch at an ALCB. Anyhow, the store was nothing to look at from the outside. I figured I’d go in and throw a few bucks worth of support at the local merchant. I walked in, and, wow, was it dark. I was still wearing my shades so I took them off. The store barely got any brighter. It turns out that about two-thirds of the fluorescent lights were either disabled or burned out.

The cooler that looked like it was supposed to hold fresh produce was empty and unplugged. The rest of the freezers were more than half empty. A lot of the shelves throughout the store were empty as well. The only fully stocked part? The liquor outlet in the corner, of course.

I was served by an Oriental gentleman who looked even more tired than the store, but he was pleasant enough. I made my way back out to Vlad the Impala with my bag of Popcorn Twists and a box of Joe Louis snack cakes in hand and kept looking for things to photograph.

Honkey tonk tavern for sale, Blackie, Alberta, 2024-03-05

Ann’s Honkey Tonk Tavern appeared to be in business when I last visited in May of 2022. No longer. Times are tough all over, but they are even tougher in little specks on the map like Blackie.

The red brick building on the corner across from Blackie Foods had caught my eye on my last visit, but I was running late and didn’t have time to shoot more than a frame or two. This time I worked it over much harder. Well, as hard as I could in the cold and the wind.

Blue Door 01, Blackie, Alberta, 2024-03-05
Sidewalk, Cross-processed, Blackie,
Alberta, 2024-03-05
Faded Artwork 01, Blackie,
Alberta, 2024-03-05
Behind door no. 2, Blackie,
Alberta, 2024-03-05
Blue Door 02, Blackie, Alberta,
Contrasting Textures, Portrait,
Blackie, Alberta, 2024-03-05
Cornered again, Blackie, Alberta, 2024-03-05
That Window, Blackie, Alberta, 2024-03-05
Roofline, Blackie, Alberta, 2024-03-05
Garage Door, Horizontal, Blackie, Alberta, 2024-03-05

The faded lettering over the blue door indicates that it may have been a Masonic Grand Lodge at one time. I have a good friend who is a mason and who might know the history. I’ll ask him.

All ploughed in, Blackie, Alberta, 2024-03-05
Stop that shit right now, Blackie, Alberta, 2024-03-05

There is a neat old garage a block over from the old brick building. I think it may have been a service station back in the day. Now it is just a place for the plough to pile snow, and, I’m guessing, for homeless, druggies, and teens trying to sneak in a quickie. The only recent investment in the property is the rather impressive no trespassing sign.

No fuss over the bus, Blackie, Alberta, 2024-03-05

I did encounter one last curiosity on my way out of town. The bus. It’s nothing special other than I saw it in Google Maps last night when I did a virtual tour of the town looking for subjects to photograph. The bus was parked in this spot in October of 2023 and it is still parked there as of March 2024. This is the first time I can remember a fugly vehicle that piqued my interest in Maps still being in the same place during my visit. Of course, I took a photo of it.

This was not my ideal outing to Blackie and I’m sure I’ll find myself here again when the snow is gone, but it wasn’t a wasted trip. I did get some shots I’m happy with. I’m glad I didn’t give up and turn back when the prospects didn’t look good.

The images in this diary entry were made using a Canon EOS 10D paired with either a Canon 17-40mm EF L USM f4 lens or a Canon 70-300 EF IS USM f4-5.6 lens. I had originally intended to do the shoot with an Olympus SP-510UZ, but it developed a malfunction I didn’t want to troubleshoot in a -25C wind chill. The 10D was my backup rig.

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© 2024 Sean D. McCormick

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