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 Whitehorse.
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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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SnapKnot – Find Your Wedding Photographer


SnapKnot is the source to find local wedding photographers. Click through to their site and learn more

Best Local Wedding Photographers
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Helmets and Bicycle Safety


The collision seemed to take an eternity—an eternity my hope that it wouldn’t be too painful or damaging. A few seconds of inattentiveness could have resulted in a lifetime of impairment, or worse.

When my wife, Anna, and I began cycling several years ago she was insistent that we wear helmets whenever we rode. I, of course, didn’t believe it was necessary and in my own mind, thought they made us appear somewhat silly. Besides, I prided myself in my ability to be careful at all times.

However, in the spirit of harmony in the home I capitulated and purchased a shiny new one. You know the drill; if momma’s happy, everybody’s happy. Soon it was standard procedure to buckle up the helmet before stepping onto the pedals.

A Momentary Lapse

A Momentary Lapse

Recently, while crossing a main thoroughfare in Duncan, my left shoe came unfastened from the pedal clip so I glanced down to see what was happening. The pedal had turned so I spun it around and locked in. While my head was down I checked the gears on the rear wheel to see what sprocket I was on.

When I looked forward—I was at the curb on the opposite side of the street, traveling fast.

A quick turn to the left stopped me from hitting the concrete edge dead on, but when the tire glanced off it, the front wheel kicked out from under me and I crashed, right hip and leg first onto the sidewalk, followed by a loud bang and a ringing in my head.

Without the now ever-present helmet, the poor young girl across the street would have been frantically trying to get an ambulance for me.

As it was, all I received for my temporary lapse in concentration was some road rash and bruising on my right calf and hip. A few ounces of Styrofoam and plastic had, perhaps, saved my life.

Only six provinces have helmet laws with BC and Nova Scotia including all cyclists. (BC Motor Vehicles Act, s.184.) My former hometown of Whitehorse, Yukon also has a helmet law. It appears that enforcement is lax in all jurisdictions.

7500 people are seriously injured in bicycle accidents in Canada each year. ICBC statistics indicates a five-year average of 290 bike accidents on Vancouver Island in a typical year, two of them fatal.

These numbers, of course, do not include the myriad accidents that occurred that are not reported to them.

Vancouver Island Health Authority Motor Vehicle Collision Report of 2012 shows that from 2003-2007 there were 999 cyclist accidents on Vancouver Island. 327 of these riders were not wearing helmets.

Interestingly, statistics show that women wear helmets more often than men and that men are even less likely to use headgear between the ages of 15 and44.

A blurb in a cycling magazine once coined the term for those without helmets: POD – Potential Organ Donor.

The message is this, “Wear a helmet whenever riding your bike, anywhere. Whether you are in traffic or on one of the many trails available to us, use safety gear.”

Oh, yes, note to self: Don’t be looking at the gears when biking.

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Mount Polley Mine Tailings Pond Breach


It’s all fun and games until there’s a tailings pond breach that spills into the water system.

This is the kind of thing we are warning about with fracking, LNG, irresponsible mining, etc.

It’s all great until it’s not. Yes, we need jobs. Yes, we need resources. But unless we take great care in retrieving them, all will be lost.

Some links to items about the Mount Polley Mine Tailings Pond Breach Disaster

Mount Polley Mine tailings pond breach called environmental disaster  CBC – Aug 04, 2014

“They’ve killed my damn town”: anger follows Mount Polley tailings pond breach CBC – Aug 5, 2014


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Maggie – a Special Girl



Special Update! The SPCA posted today that Maggie has found her forever home.

Into each of our lives a special being enters when we least expect it. Today was one of those days for me.

Today I met Maggie.

A friend asked if I would create some images of a dog that is at the Cowichan branch of the BC Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BCSPCA). I agreed to do so, not knowing what to expect from a rescue dog.

The dog I met is Maggie, a female pit-bull that has undergone extensive time and training with one of the volunteers of the branch. She is a sweet, intelligent, loving little girl. She is a little over two years old and has been spayed.

Maggie seemed to be very happy with the whole situation and expressed her joy willingly. It was interesting to notice that she seemed quite concerned with an injury I had on my leg; returning to it often and attempting to lick it well.

She is an energetic, lively quick study who is willing and able to learn new things. She has already mastered basic obedience and works well on-leash.

A statement on her from the website says, “She would do best in an active home. Maggie is very loving and would bond deeply in a trusting relationship. Maggie has a strong prey drive and therefore she would not do well as off leash dog.

If you’d like to meet Maggie or one of the other loving animals looking for a forever home, you can contact the Cowichan Branch. See more at http://www.spca.bc.ca/branches/cowichan/

Love Personified

Love Personified


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Fiscal Responsibility by Inhibiting Home Ownership


Raise mortgage rates enough to inhibit home ownership, but keep credit card interest as high as possible. Is that the way to fiscal restraint?

I read an article recently about Finance Minister Joe Oliver watching the housing market closely after the Bank of Montreal lowered its mortgage interest rate. What is the issue? Is he really concerned that Canadians will become too far in debt by owning a home?

“Our government has taken action in the past to reduce consumer indebtedness and the government’s exposure to the housing market,” Oliver said in a statement to CTV News …

Surely, curtailing the ability to own a home doesn’t benefit the average citizen. Interfering raises the cost of home ownership, thus causing further indebtedness for those fortunate enough to be able to pass through the government imposed hurdles. Furthermore, it ensures that a large percentage of Canadians will not be able to purchase their own home.

Those people are left at the mercy of landlords, some of whom are excellent, but many who simply provide the minimum amount of repairs, maintenance and upkeep for the maximum amount of rent the market will tolerate.

These costs then impact on the middle-class and lower wage earners forcing them to use credit to make other purchases such as cars, furniture and appliances. Our society has become dependent on credit in order to function. The exorbitant interest rates on these purchases further impede the Canadian people’s ability for home ownership.

I don’t claim to be an expert on high finance. However, what I’ve witnessed indicates that very little in the way of decision-making in this area actually benefits the individual. We hear about “the economy,” that elusive, misunderstood, constantly changing entity that is the agreed-upon imaginary world we choose to live in. Ministers and financiers make decisions affecting everything from the cost of housing to the value of the dollar. What is the effect of those decisions?

The recent, intentional, devaluing of the Canadian dollar was supposed to help our exporters and tourist trade. But at what cost and who bears the burden? As the dollar plummets, the cost of everything we purchase goes up.

We have been convinced that we must be big players in the world economic market; again an imaginary world that exists only because we agree it does. Because of this, Canada can no longer feed itself so all the imported food gets more expensive. Our raw material is shipped out, now at a lower price because our dollar down, and we buy back products manufactured from it at higher rates; again because our dollar is low.

Who is paying the price? The average consumer. The middle-class. The lower socio-economic segment of society. That is who is bearing the economic burden so the upper-class can benefit from increased trade.

We have learned that too much debt versus the value of the assets covering it will eventually lead to economic ruin. However, it is interesting that the methods used to mitigate this circumstance impact negatively on the average citizen, but still benefit the 1%.

While the stated intent may be to keep Canadians from becoming too far in debt, it certainly isn’t improving their quality of life.


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Discard Lawyers – Residential School Survivors


A recent article on cbc.ca by Karina Roman brought to light the abhorrent practice that some lawyers use of withholding information … specifically, government lawyers attempting to ensure that a hearing into the St. Anne’s Residential School is bereft of certain information it needs to delve into the accusations of victims of residential school abuse.

Ms. Roman writes:

In January, an Ontario Superior Court judge slammed the government for withholding the documents, which are from an Ontario Provincial Police investigation and subsequent trials that led to the conviction of several former staff of St. Anne’s.

So, who is ultimately responsible for this reprehensible behaviour? The First Nations are asking that government remove their lawyers from this matter, but is that enough?

It seems to me that lawyers that intentionally mislead a hearing are guilty of misconduct and ought to be treated accordingly—perhaps by being fired. Furthermore, the bureaucrats that instructed them to perform these acts should find themselves unemployed as well.

And, where does the Law Society stand on all this. One would think that a profession that claims to have integrity and honesty enshrined as part of its very foundation would take a dim view of these actions. However, that appears to not be the case.

If the Ontario Bar Association really wants to let people know where they stand on these primary facets of their profession they would, at the very least, call an inquiry of their own, publicly, and ascertain whether or not these members are still entitled to call themselves members of the bar. If it is found that information was indeed withheld, those responsible ought to be removed as members and stopped from practicing law.



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