Wooden, Occidental Flour elevator located in rural Montana.

Expired Film Project: Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota Grain Elevators

Admittedly, I have spent more time looking at the history and nuances of rural Canadian grain trade in the Prairie Provinces than the American Midwest.

This photo collection, at this juncture, has no research and is purely driven by aesthetics. My immediate observation when determining photo subjects was to document grain and flour elevators in the United States that are built in a similar architectural style to the Prairie Sentinel-style elevators that have become an iconic symbol of the Canadian Prairie.

Camera: Olympus Epic Stylus 35mm f/2.8 lens

Film: Expired Kodak Gold 200 (35MM)



Brown and white bus shelter with flower hanging basket in Lappe/Toimela, Northwestern Ontario

Bus Shelters: Rural Symbols of Urban Migration

Map shows communities of Shabaqua, Shebandowan, Sistonens Corners, Kakabeka Falls along MOM's Way in Northwestern Ontario
Google Maps | Western unorganized Thunder Bay District in Northwestern Ontario

In 2016, the Northern Policy Institute partnered with the Northern Ontario Workforce Planning Board to release their report; Northern Projections: Human Capital Series.

This report highlights the contrasts between urban and rural populations in the Thunder Bay District and serves to provide data that supports what one can see while driving through this part of northwestern Ontario along MOM’s Way.


Prairie sentinel grain elevator-style bus shelter in Finmark/Sunshine, Northwestern Ontario
Prairie sentinel grain elevator-style bus shelter in Finmark/Sunshine, Northwestern Ontario

MOM’s Way is an acronym for Manitoba, Ontario, and Minnesota and includes portions of Manitoba Highway 12, Minnesota State Highway 313, Minnesota State Highway 11, Minnesota State Highway 72 and Ontario Highway 11.

As Northern Projections reports, Thunder Bay district’s population declined by 3 percent between 2001 and 2011. While the overall population of the district declined, the urban population increased whereas the rural population declined.  This urban migration has impacted rural schools in the Thunder Bay district as enrollment has declined.

Bus shelter with apple-shaped window in Sistonens Corners/ Kaministiquia, Northwestern Ontario
Bus shelter with apple-shaped window in Sistonens Corners/ Kaministiquia, Northwestern Ontario

In several instances, in the western portion of the Thunder Bay district, schools have closed and those populations have been consolidated with nearby schools. In 2005, a report completed by an independent auditor for the Ministry of Education identified a number of schools that have experienced a decline in enrolment and would subsequently close with those students being consolidated into “neighboring districts.” For some of these communities, such as Finmark, Shabaqua, Kaministiquia and Shebandowan, the closure of the Four Way School in Sunshine increased the commute time for students by 20 minutes or more in most cases to the Kakabeka Falls School.

Castle bus shelter in Jelly/Carters Corner, Northwestern Ontario
Castle bus shelter in Jelly/Carters Corner, Northwestern Ontario

During my time in rural areas of Northwestern Ontario, I noticed a number of practical and creative bus shelters. For this photo project, I documented bus shelters in the western portion of the unorganized Thunder Bay District. These shelters are predominately used during the winter months, where the average January high/low temperature is about -8/-21C (18/-5F). However, I was always particularly fond of the color contrast with these structures and the landscape during the summer months, when not in use. These photos were taken in the communities of Sunshine, Conmee, Sistonens Corners, Jelly, Kaministiquia, Finmark and Oliver Paipoonge along a stretch of MOM’s Way.


Camera: Canon EOS Rebel SL1 Digital SLR
Lens: Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM

BUREAU, CARL CLUTCHEY, NORTH SHORE. “8 out of 11 Northern Ontario Districts Have Experienced a Population Decline.” The Chronicle-Journal. Accessed November 9, 2018. http://www.chroniclejournal.com/news/local/out-of-northern-ontario-districts-have-experienced-a-population-decline/article_9cb6b16a-cc48-11e8-b0da-eba0f947cb92.html.
Cooke, David. “Independent Facilitator Report - Review of the Lakehead DSB School Closure Decisions,” n.d., 9.
“MOM’s Way.” Wikipedia, March 10, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=MOM%27s_Way&oldid=829773539.
“Northern Policy Institute - Two solitudes in Thunder Bay District? Urban or extremely rural.” Accessed November 9, 2018 .https://www.northernpolicy.ca/upload/documents/news-releases/en-press-release-thunder-bay-district-09.pdf.
Press, Nicole Thompson The Canadian. “Rural School Closures Hit Some Communities Hard, Main Parties Pledge Action.” The Chronicle-Journal. Accessed October 31, 2018. http://www.chroniclejournal.com/news/national/rural-school-closures-hit-some-communities-hard-main-parties-pledge/article_132a0898-3426-5601-b928-1b842ff7496b.html.
“Student Transportation Services of Thunder Bay :: School Zones.” Student Transportation Services of Thunder Bay. Accessed October 31, 2018. https://www.ststb.ca/en/schools/school-zones.

Abandoned Gary depot with graffiti along train tracks during the summer

Gary, Indiana: An Introduction to an Urbanist Love Story

Google Map showing Duluth to Evanston
Little bit of a drive, eh?

During the summer of 2017, I moved from Duluth, Minnesota to Evanston, Illinois to attend university. It was a difficult move and I had a hard time reconciling that I would be leaving “Canada Lite” and trading Lake Superior “grains and trains” for EL cars.

Continue reading “Gary, Indiana: An Introduction to an Urbanist Love Story”