Tim Van Horne set up on Baker Street last Monday with his Canadian Mosaic van.

Tim Van Horne set up on Baker Street last Monday with his Canadian Mosaic van.

Ambitious photo project reaches Nelson

In an attempt to weave the country together and discover the meaning of life through photography, Tim Van Horne is on a decade long journey. Last week his tour of Canada was stopped in the 500 block of Baker Street.

In an attempt to weave the country together and discover the meaning of life through photography, Tim Van Horne is on a decade long journey. Last week his tour of Canada was stopped in the 500 block of Baker Street.

“I’m on a 10 year mission across Canada to photograph one per cent of Canada for its 150 birthday in 2017,” Van Horne told the Star.

“The idea is that in 2017, 30,000 photos will have been created from every possible place in Canada and will all be brought together in a single image — the Canadian Mosaic. It’s intended to talk about our true cultural identity and life itself.”

Fresh from the Shambhala Music Festival where he snapped 132 photos of all the interesting characters that roamed the grounds, Van Horne spent a couple hours last Monday morning adding Nelson faces to the mosaic. It will be a huge Canadian flag from a distance, but made up of all the photos Van Horne is currently collecting.

“It’s not a government look, it’s not a corporate look, but a look at it from somebody who is open minded,” he said.

“I’m a sounding board and a messenger. I let the people stand any way they want. I am just collecting them and bringing them together.”

Van Horne started his journey three years ago when he pulled out of Red Deer into the unknown. Since that time he has lived in his customized 15-passenger van where he eats, sleeps and shares space with his two dogs, Bo and Mya.

So far he has touched every province and territory on his way to more than 11,000 portraits he calls the DNA of Canada.

“People really love this and they trust me,” Van Horne said of the response he has received so far.

“When you look at the portraits they are happy because they trust the person taking the photograph. It’s just bringing us all together.”

Van Horne is not funded by any group or organization. Though he has applied for Alberta Foundation of the Arts grants, he has been turned down five times.

It’s all his money — and some borrowed from his parents — that is fuelling the project. Despite his enthusiasm, money is tight and he may have to sell his house in Red Deer to keep the Canadian Mosaic van rolling.

“You only live once and this will be the most important thing I’m going to do in my career,” he said. “I’m willing to throw caution to the wind and live the dream.”

From Nelson, Van Horne was making his way to Quebec. He admits that wading into the province not knowing a bit of French and trying to sell a Canadian identity might make for a difficult four months.

“I’ll see if my sincerity and the strength of this project will win the hearts of Quebeckers or will I be shunned and ridiculed and pushed out the door,” Van Horne said. “I’m going to test the theory of us and them… It should be telling.”

From the portraits on his website — canadianmosaic.ca — he should be able to find at least a few smiling Quebeckers once he arrives.

“Everybody wants to be recognized, even if it’s just for a minute,” he said.