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Local photographer finds beauty, untold stories in all things abandoned (4 photos)

Monique Holmes explores the ruins of northern Ontario in 'Just North Of Abandoned'

Monique Holmes has crafted a book of photography dedicated to her love of exploring remnants of northern Ontario’s past that have been long since abandoned.

Just North Of Abandoned - a sprawling collection of more than 300 photographs - has been published with just a limited run of 15 books made available locally.

Holmes says she’s now looking for enough cash to publish more copies in the immediate future.

“I’ve always kind of had a love for abandoned objects and abandoned places,” Holmes told SooToday. “Throughout my travels through the years, I’ve been lucky enough to stop off on roadside locations.”

The photos were taken at a number of locales throughout northern Ontario over a period of five years, many of which were captured in the Algoma District while travelling to and from concerts with her husband.

“Almost every time me and my husband would go on a trip to go see a concert, we would make sure that my camera was in the car, and we’d stop at at least one abandoned place,” Holmes said. “My husband is one of my biggest supporters, which is absolutely amazing - he comes with me on all my crazy adventures.”

Holmes has taken photos of abandoned houses, motels and debris - things like toilets, cars and assorted car parts - that were left behind at those locations.

“I wanted to keep it specifically northern Ontario, because it was inspired just from around here,” she said. “We have so much natural beauty around here.”

“I think some of the abandoned stuff is just as beautiful as the scenery that’s around here - it’s just a matter of finding that beauty.”

For the most part, Holmes has either asked for the permission of landowners or simply captured photos of abandoned structures from the side of the road.

But when your hobby is taking those types of photos, it’s sometimes better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.  

“A lot of the people are thanked in the book for those who have unknowingly allowed me to take photographs of their beauty,” Holmes said with a chuckle.  

Holmes launched a GoFundMe page in late November, in hopes of raising the $2,500 needed to publish 100 more copies of Just North of Abandoned.

The last two copies of her initial run are currently sitting at Stone’s Office Supply, with plans to also sell her book at Case’s Music once she raises enough money to crank out more copies.  

For Holmes, Just North Of Abandoned is a collection of visual stories that are open to interpretation.   

“I like to see the history of stuff,” said Holmes. “I find beauty in the past - there’s always a story to be told.”

“I love being able to tell stories through my photography. When I go into these places I feel like I’m able to tell a story that may have been lost in the past, one that each viewer can make up as their own, because each photo would hold a different meaning for every person, depending on how they’re looking at it,” she continued. “I find beauty in what has been forgotten.”

Holmes’ GoFundMe page can be found here.


James Hopkin

About the Author: James Hopkin

James Hopkin is a reporter for SooToday based in Sault Ste. Marie
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