Norm Hamilton

In My Digital Darkroom

I am a freelance writer and photographer based on Vancouver Island at the moment. Welcome to my blog.

My new novel, From Thine Own Well, is returning from the editor on November 1 and is scheduled for release at the end of November. Visit the book website or the Facebook Page for more information and to see when the preorders will be available.

You can also purchase my photography book, The Digital Eye, as a paperback or eBook at Amazon.

Fawn Fritzen, Singer, Songwriter

Working with Norm was a pleasure from the beginning.  He truly lives up to his “Authentic You” promise; I was impressed with his warmth and his genuine interest in all our conversations.  The photo shoot itself was very fun, and I appreciated Norm’s guidance when it came to posing to help me look my best.  I was looking for a few photos that I could use to promote myself as an artist, and Norm provided exactly what I was looking for.
Fawn Fritzen, Whitehorse

Norm Hamilton is a freelance writer and photographer based in Duncan, BC.
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Lower Priced Cable Plans Result in Higher Taxes


Higher Taxes for Lower Cost TV Packages?

In case any of you are wondering why your cable bill is higher this month, the answer appears to be in increased taxation. In an interesting turn of events, it appears the BC provincial government will benefit from the fact that cable providers now must provide cheaper packages. Who’da thunk that it would increase the bottom line of general revenue coffers when the CRTC mandated cheaper cable? Here’s the explanation I received from Shaw as to why the provincial tax is higher for the same service.

Customers in British Columbia are provided a PST tax exemption for Cable TV services. This exemption is based on the minimum level of television service available for purchase; customers are responsible for paying PST for the portion of their bill exceeding this amount. Currently, the minimum level of TV service available from Shaw is priced is $41.00/mo.

As of February 16, 2016, the minimum level of TV service offered to customers in BC is “Limited TV” – the package mandated by the CRTC and priced at $25.00/mo. As this will be the basis of the PST exemption for BC Cable TV customers moving forward, the billed amount of PST on your invoice will increase.


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Coquitlam-Burke Mountain and Vancouver-Mount Pleasant BC 2016 By-Elections


Low Voter Interest in BC By-Elections in Coquitlam-Burke Mountain and downtown Vancouver-Mount Pleasant

BC By-Elections in Coquitlam-Burke Mountain and downtown Vancouver-Mount PleasantI was going to write a blog post railing on how the major media networks couldn’t be bothered covering the BC by-elections in Coquitlam-Burke Mountain and downtown Vancouver-Mount Pleasant. Yup, as of 10:00 a.m. the day following the history-making election of two new MLAs from Coquitlam-Burke Mountain and downtown Vancouver-Mount Pleasant, none of CBC, CTV and Global new networks had any coverage on the front page of their websites that I found.

UPDATE: This page from CBC was pointed out to me after I wrote and posted this note. It shows a time/date stamp of Feb 02, 2016 8:56 PM PT. Not sure why I couldn’t find it on the morning of the 3rd.

Then I realized what a monumental waste of time that’d be as the majority of British Columbians who were eligible to have a say in their future—couldn’t be bothered.

It seems the media attention, or lack thereof, simply reflects the apathy (or is it dispiritedness?) of the affected citizens. In Vancouver-Mount Pleasant by-election, 78% ignored the chance to make a difference. Coquitlam-Burke Mountain by-election results saw 80% indifference.

I send my thanks to those citizens who stood up for their community and voted. My congratulations go to the newly elected MLAs; Jodie Wickens (NDP) for Coquitlam-Burke Mountain and Melanie Mark (NDP) for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant. Ms. Mark also made history as the first aboriginal woman to win a seat in the legislature. The Green Party’s Pete Fry made major inroads in Vancouver-Mount Pleasant by coming in second with a very respectable 26.42% of the popular vote.

Historically, by-elections attract fewer voters. I’m hoping for a more responsible response from the electorate in the upcoming 2017 general election in BC.


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Co-Design Group Addresses Shawnigan Lake Community


The Co-Design Group Explains Their Process to Shawnigan Lake

The Shawnigan Lake community recently acquired the Elsie Myles School Property – buildings and land. Now they are discussing how to develop it best for their community.

Co-design presentation at Shawningan Lake.A number of residents participated as Vancouver based Co-Design Group, an association of architects, designers and researchers, made a presentation at the Shawnigan Lake Community Centre over the past weekend. The premise is that the Co-Design Group ascertains the ingredients and interaction that a community desires for a space. That information, provided in the form of drawings, is then used by designers and architects to create what citizens decide on. On their website they say:

“Citizens are experts in the way they wish to live. Architects and planners are experts in design. We respect the expertise of these two groups and invite them into a constructive dialogue with each other.”

What I appreciate about this approach is that it is not some level of government dictating what the community is to have; it is the residents who live there providing the input and creating their space. This is much better than the paternalistic, “we know what’s best” method that so many communities, provinces, territories and our country have evolved into.

Shawnigan Lake is a small community on Vancouver Island 1/2 hour south of Duncan, BC.


My Books at Amazon

Dystopian Novel

Photographic Tips

Fiction – Love Story

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Waterless Urinals


waterless_urinalI love technology that preserves water and works for the environment.

The washrooms at Transfer Beach in Ladysmith, BC use these unique, water saving devices in the washrooms. What a great idea.

There’s a number waterless urinals available at Amazon. This particular one seems to be rated quite well and is reasonably priced.

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Charlie Hebdo, Pope Francis and the The Sanctity of Life


Pope Francis has made numerous announcements indicating the progressive way he leads one of the world’s largest religious denominations, the Catholics.

However, after the tragic events in Paris where the cartoonists and editors of Charlie Hebdo were brutally murdered by terrorists (responsibility claimed by al-Qaeda in Yemen,) he reportedly made the statement that “You can’t provoke, you can’t insult the faith of others, you can’t make fun of faith.” (CBC News)

This is one of the first proclamations of the new Pope that I disagree with. If one’s faith is so vulnerable that a comment can shake it, perhaps it needs to be revisited. It has been said that each of us makes a choice to be insulted or offended when it comes to non-tangible beliefs.

A week or so after the killings in Paris the Daily Mail ran an article with the headline, “Hang the Cartoonists!’ Pakistani Muslims Demand Death Sentence for Charlie Hebdo Staff for Committing ‘Worst Act of Terrorism’ by Drawing the Prophet Mohammed.”

To Western minds, reacting to comments and cartoons in a savage, brutal fashion appears to be backward and regressive. If the sensitivities of believers were directed toward the love and acceptance that religious dogma professes, insulting the faith of others would be non-issue. Perhaps Pope Francis and other religious leaders could deliver this message, human lives over-ride any thought or belief we may harbour.

Where do we draw the line? When does satire become bullying? It is okay to ridicule as long as it isn’t about religion? When does the imposition of one’s belief on others become tyrannical?

My prayer for us all is one of acceptance … acceptance of each other, acceptance of our differences … acceptance of the sanctity of life.

Add your thoughts to the comments below so we can create a dialogue on this issue.

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Start Accomplishing in 2015


After a lengthy period of treading water, I’ve decided that 2015 is to be the year of accomplishment.

My first two years of retirement have been a period of adjustment, relocation, relaxation … and frustration – punctuated by a marked lack of accomplishment on my part. I’m about to change all that.

So, this morning I leaped out of bed at the crack of 9:10-ish and went straight to the kitchen to turn the coffee pot on.

So there ya go, I got enough sleep and have my morning coffee. Two things accomplished already.

Have a wonderful 2015 everyone.

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Wind Storm in Cowichan Valley


On November 6, 2014 Vancouver Island was hit with what ended up being the worst storm of the still-young fall/winter season. Driving in from the east, it wreaked havoc from one end of the Island to the other.

It seems that the Cowichan Valley was ravaged the most. Trees were snapped off or up-rooted, powerlines dropped, and heavy rains struck much of the area. I captured the photos in the slide show below just metres away from our home after a tree fell from the far side of Gibbins Rd and stretched all the way to over a trailer in a court opposite.

The only thing that saved the mobile home from destruction … was the power lines. The massive tree ended up suspended between the cable/telephone lines on one side and the Hydro lines on the other.

BC Hydro had over 90 events of similar nature going on at the same time. Still, they, along with the cable/telephone people and contractors managed to remove this tree and have the power restored in less than four hours.

Kudos to them all.


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Election of Federal Liberal Candidate for Yukon


The federal Liberal Party will elect their candidate for the 2015 federal election on October 4, 2014. The nominations for the position are Tamara Goeppel, Gurdeep Pandher, Ben Sanders and Larry Bagnell.

While I am not a member of the Liberal party, I am a supporter of anyone who wishes to work for the benefit of Canadians. As such, I sent those who are running a couple of questions that were on my mind, and judging from my discussions, also on the minds of others.

The questions are:

1. Will you work toward an electoral change to a proportional representation system that will not only ensure that we receive a true majority but will also protect minorities?

2. A number of months ago, according to the media, Justin Trudeau suggested being in favour of free votes for MPs, as long as it doesn’t harm the party. (Not sure how to interpret the dichotomy) Are you in favour of free votes in Parliament and are you willing to stand up to a leader if they disagree? e.g. absolutely no party whipped votes.

Three of the four vying for the candidacy responded to my query. I haven’t received a response from Tamara Goeppel.

The responses are in the order I received them and are presented unedited. Continue reading

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Bings Creek Fish Habitat


bings_creek_fish_habitat7281_blob2014 has not been a good year for fish in the Cowichan Valley. Drought has all but dried up the habitat needed for spawning.

The Cowichan River reached a historic low and now, in early September, there is still no relief on the horizon.

The photos below are of a section of the Bings Creek Fish Habitat Restoration Project. This spot is nestled deep within the rain forest surrounding Duncan, BC … but still less than 5 minutes walk from a city cul-de-sac and only 10 metres off a walking trail.

While the Somenos Management Plan has as part of its mandate to ensure trees/shrubs thrive within the Bings Creek Habitat Restoration Zone, no-one could have foretold the drastic lack of water that has occurred.


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Les Misérables at the Chemainus Theatre Festival


lesmisI’ll not attempt to critique individual performances in this short blog post, suffice to say there was not a flaw to be found.

Director Peter Jorgensen expressed his vision on the small stage in Chemainus in a way that has to be seen to be believed. The cast and crew blended together to bring the play to life. The music, from the live band to the vocal instruments of the actors, reverberated through the audience.

Veteran actor Kieran Martin Murphy led the cast with a strong performance and confident ability. The performances were powerful and moving. I cannot remember ever having had that many emotional experiences in a theatre. Thank goodness for the small bit of comic relief provided by the “Master of the House.”

While the story is the tale of a singular time in history and the people of that period, it resonates with the world of today. People have not changed regardless of technology. We still love, laugh, lust, hate and greed. Fortunately, love overcomes all else. Above all else, Les Mis is a story of love.

Chemainus Theatre Festival is a fully professional theatre located in the small town of Chemainus, BC, population 3900. Unless I’m mistaken, the term “festival” is just part of the name of the non-profit organization. It isn’t a festival as we normally think of one.

We attended a matinee on Wednesday, August 27—and the house was packed. Yes, a full house. A testimonial to the high esteem and value placed on this little theatre in the centre of Vancouver Island. Our experience included pleasant interactions with staff and volunteers and a space that was temperature controlled perfectly.

Some Les Mis trivia :

Adapted from the novel by Victor Hugo, first published in 1862, Les Misérables tells the story of the salvation of former convict Jean Valjean over the period 1815 – 1832. The climax of the story is the Paris uprising of 1832.

The music was composed by Claude-Michel Schönberg, with lyrics written by Alain Boublil and poet Jean-Marc Natel, It was then translated into English by Herbert Kretzmer.

Feel free to leave comments on your experience or thoughts on Les Misérables

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