Doing some drive cleanup and came across a photo of the barn still standing.
On April 7, 2016, the farmhouse was demolished. It was the last standing structure of the Whitby farm. What a day.
Well, it's been some time since the Saving My Family Farm film was completed. After the demolition, I was planning on updating the film a bit but thought perhaps it's about time I released it publicly. Please share the film around! If you have any comments, please leave below or feel free to contact me via my website. https://vimeo.com/19006208
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I know it's summer, but TheStar's video on Microdairies reminded me of the milk cooler and I don't think I've posted anything about it, so here's some featured photos from the day.
Before the farm was demolished, I was always somehow comforted by the fact that in the milk parlour room, where the cooler sat, there was a calendar on the wall marking the time milking stopped, as if, "Good, we know how long it's been at least". A marker of time and a sort of informal memorial as well.
Took this photo looking through an old knot hole of one of the barn boards.
Took some photos of the old family bike. I'm anticipating a project surrounding this bike. Both grandpa and dad remark that everyone in the family used it to get around the farm, but also to and from town. Using a bike for daily commutes generally isn't the case today in Whitby, although it's been great for me in Toronto. And thus I bought a new Raleigh 5 speed. It's neat seeing the bikes side by side. There seems to be this return to the bike in recent years, but its significance as a legitimate mode of transportation in a city, or anywhere for that matter, is slowly being recognized. Frankly, it just has to be now.
Trying my hand at a tilt-shift of the farm. I love tilt-shift. When I was younger, I had a whole model farm kit--I love it. The little livestock, fences, trucks, silos, hay bales...
I got a call around noon on March 5 from my mom. She said that dad visited the farm that morning and that the demolition had already begun. Unprepared, as we all thought it was happening the next day, I grabbed my camera, and other equipment, racing from work in Toronto to Whitby to capture the demo of my family's farm. The time had finally come, and while thankfully the developers had given us some warning as to the demo, I guess some of the work had started a bit earlier. And luckily, when I got to the farm, the barn was still standing. One shed had disappeared, separated into piles of wood, brick, and sheet metal. An orange vehicle with a claw traveled towards another shed, and I saw it reduce this building to the same piles, so quickly. Dramatic, perhaps. But watching this unfold has really been something else. Putting the "doco" hat on makes it more surreal as it's not until later, when faced with the photos of before, and after, that it really hits me.
The next day, March 6th, the main barn was torn down.
I would like to thank my family who, while I wonder sometimes if they support my filmmaking tendencies, really proved it this week (at least I think so). My mom racing from her own workplace with the Hi-8 video camera so I would't miss anything. To my dad, informing the residential developer of my documentary and asking if it was okay that I film the demo. My sister Laura who was there that day, and Rachel, who wasn't, but helped me take photos days before--a portrait of me standing in front of the then-standing barn. And thank you to John who captured, on the DSLR, the little things I would have missed. His photos are below. And thank you to all my friends who supported me in one way or another.
Watching the event unfold through a lens sometimes made me forget what was happening. Thanks to those around me, I was able to capture this event and will reflect on it for many years to come.
Additional photos: John Rathiganthan (Twitter)
The last two weekends were spent in Oshawa and visiting the family farm in Whitby, taking photos and recording video. On February 4th I filmed items being taken from the barn and shed and thrown into a scrap metal bin. The milk cooler was removed from the barn, seeing proper daylight for the first time in at least a decade. The thing was spotless on the inside. I ask my dad if it could be sold to another farm--he said there aren't really any farmers that would have use for such a small milk cooler. As of now I'm unsure of its ultimate fate.
I took some photos the next day, February 5th, and then the following weekend, on the 12th, I had a nice farm dinner with my family including grandpa. More video was taken with the DSLR--still perfecting that system as it's not as easy as filming with the HVX camcorder. Some videos and photos will make their way to this site, which I'm still tweaking to deliver images and video more easily.
Above is a photo taken of a window in the barn. A log leans up against the window on the outside. A few years ago when I encountered this window, seeing the log startled me as I thought it was someone standing against the window, or a cow perhaps, but I finally realized what it was. I think it startled me because the barn has been empty for so long--the idea of anyone greeting you in there is an odd concept. Oh, except for the squirrels and doves. You can rely on them for a good scare.
This window is located on a wall that's ready to cave in--there's a large split running along the middle of the wall, with large wooden beams braced against it to keep it from falling. John assured me it's sturdy. Thanks!
In my thesis paper, a complement to my documentary film on the sale of my family's farm in Whitby, Ontario, I wrote that I would continue the project with a website documenting the changes to the farm and surrounding area as the developers shape and build on the land. There hasn't been much to note since the end of the MFA program (October 2010), but sudden developments have sprung up.
While I'm excited at the prospect of getting back to production (re-editing the film, posting content online), the realization of what's to come certainly sets a gloomy and depressing tone. However, as I also note in my thesis paper, recording these events will preserve the farm, essentially saving it.