Kogos: photographers capture the beauty of La Cloche

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‘It never gets old. There is always something new to see and taking pictures is one of my ways of experiencing it ‘

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I chat with these lovely and prolific photographers, Jon and Kerry Butler, in Willisville. Earlier this week on Facebook, I saw a cold, happy photo of them traveling in their boat, wearing their winter hats and jackets, all bundled up. I had to call and say hello.

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“Hello, Bonnie,” Jon said happily over the phone. “Yeah, today it’s -15 C, and it’s foggy because the lake isn’t frozen yet. But winter is here. And we had just closed our chalet.

Jon and Kerry live in La Cloche, overlooking Frood and Charlton lakes. A few summers ago I attended a happy Canada Day at their house where I got to meet so many of their interesting friends.

While Jon grew up in Kirkland Lake, he and Kerry moved to Sudbury in 1992. Jon became the publisher of the Sudbury Star, before moving to Winnipeg, to be president of Thomson Newspapers Canada. Retiring in 2001, he and Kerry moved to live full time in Willisville. However, they never retired, but continue to seek the beauty that surrounds them.

“People of all ages who approach life with a sense of wonder and openness to change challenge aging,” said Jon.

Kerry Butler's delicious interpretation of the natural environment of La Cloche.  Provided
Kerry Butler’s delicious interpretation of the natural environment of La Cloche. Provided

Upon retirement, Jon has become an excellent photographer, and he willingly and graciously shares his vision and talents with us.

“I started photographing natural landscapes,” Jon told me. “They’re different in that no filters or IT enhancements are used. In the morning, Bonnie, I like to get up to catch the first light of dawn. I can sit on my dock, take photos of the lovely Charlton Lake area, or take my boat or walk to take photos of Willisville Mountain.

“Jon, you catch the light well,” I asked. “What is the specific attraction for you? “

“It’s easy, Bonnie. It’s the constant beauty of nature, ”said Jon. “It never gets old. There is always something new to see and taking pictures is one of my ways of experiencing it.

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“Five years ago, I started experimenting with composite photos, to create what are called photomontage images. These images are inspired by our natural world. Some of my montages can include two photographs, even up to five or six, mixed together to present and produce what I see and celebrate.

“What creating photomontages has done for me has opened up a whole new world of photography. I am now interpreting a completely different subject. While photographing, I mentally create a photo montage in my head.

Fortunately, about a year ago, Jon turned to this hobby, a natural development for him with his photomontages, to create wearable art, creating a vibrant online store. “It has been a lot of fun for me to create and share wearable art. Great t-shirts, comfy sweatshirts and posters from my photographs.

The store is called Paperboy.ca and is also online with Shopify.ca. Go ahead, it’s awesome.

“Ah-ha”, I’m kidding. “So it keeps you busy going to the post office to mail your goods to Espanola. “

“It’s fun, Bonnie,” he says, and I hear her smile. “By the way, you can also see my photographs in natural light on JonButler.ca. “

In the summer Jon gets up at 4:30 a.m. and in the winter he goes to bed later until 6 a.m. Region.”

As we well know.

On July 13, 1928, Miss Violet Olivier de Coniston was a visitor to the Willisville Fire Tower on the special occasion of the Sudbury Star, where she was a nominee and winner of the first prize.  We wondered what kind of competition she had won.  This newspaper, created in 1927, included visitors to the Tower until 1931. Supplied
On July 13, 1928, Miss Violet Olivier de Coniston was a visitor to the Willisville Fire Tower on the special occasion of the Sudbury Star, where she was a nominee and winner of the first prize. We wondered what kind of competition she had won. This newspaper, created in 1927, included visitors to the Tower until 1931. Supplied

Jon and his dear wife, Kerry, continue to collect and share the story of La Cloche.

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I’m talking to the talented Kerry Butler, an established photographer known for her expertise in landscape photography. In the past, she has exhibited her photographs at the Perivale gallery and at the La Cloche art fair.

“Jon and I love to hike, and while I go with Jon early in the morning sometimes, I also love the afternoon and sunset photography,” she said with a laugh.

“We have created a La Cloche history page on Facebook and Instagram,” said Jon, “which displays alluring old photographs of this area. There is no real museum in La Cloche, so people tell us. donated old photographs, books and memorabilia.

I tell them that I collected Manitoulin memorabilia when I lived in Kagawong and when dear Lois Linley had her antique store, I bought some nice little old utensils. My favorite was the old black wood stove from Quebec, with a kettle on it. I later donated it to Rick Nelson, the curator of the Old Heritage Museum in Kagawong. And I visit it every summer.

“You will be interested to know that the Willis family, the namesake of present-day Willisville, had settled on the shores of Frood Lake around 1910,” said Kerry. “The Willisville / Whitefish Falls area was a hive of activity due to the construction of the new railroad that would link McKerrow to Little Current. This railroad went through Willisville. Many of these railway workers were housed in Whitefish Falls. There was great excitement in Willisville as it would be accessible by both train and water.

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“A delightful piece of memories we have is the original Willisville Fire Tower Journal from the years 1927 to 1931. It is the guestbook of the names and locations of those who braved the climb to the top of the fire tower. We keep it carefully stored in our house, we know that there are other magazines and we hope that one day we will be able to see them.

Kerry opened the book as we spoke and she laughed.

“Oh Bonnie, this is the signature of Miss Violet Olivier de Coniston. She signed the WIllisville Tower Guest Book on July 13, 1928, on a special Sudbury Star occasion. She was a candidate and winner of the first prize. I wonder what kind of contest she won?

“Another piece of La Cloche history that we treasure is a rustic chair made from two hand-cut half logs. It was made in the 1920s for Widgawa Lodge. We also have a handcrafted 1920s dresser in one of the oldest cabins on Lake Charlton. Both pieces of furniture belonged to people who would have come to Willisville for the train, the mail or the general store.

“A few years ago we had an exhibit at the Sudbury Art Gallery using our collection of photographs. It was called Through the Camera Lens: La Cloche 1900 to 1950. Jon and I organized this exhibition with Demetra Christakos, Executive Director of the Art Gallery of Sudbury.

I love to talk and listen to the butlers. Yeah, if we’re always changing and learning, like Jon and Kerry, who keep being new every day, how can we be old?

Our Bonnie is honored and thrilled to continue to discover this region, even at the start of winter. Find her at [email protected]

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