Photo contest winners

January 1, 1999

We are very grateful to all the photographers who entered the Re-imaging Canada Photo Contest for showing us the nation through their eyes. We received 321 photos from around the country—people young and old, breathtaking vistas of prairies and mountains, wild animals and spectacular manmade structures. So many beautiful photos, but we allowed our judge to select only three (although he insisted on adding an honourable mention). You can see all the contest entries in our photo gallery.

Several of the photos submitted to this contest will be selected to accompany a book of essays titled Reflections of Canada: Illuminating our Biggest Possibilities and Challenges at 150 Years honouring the 150th anniversary of Canada’s confederation. The photographers’ names and a brief description of the photograph will accompany the images. We will announce which images have been selected for the book on April 1.

First place: Dettah Ice Road by Gary Clennan

Dettah Ice Road by Gary Clennan

I created this photograph last February during a visit to Yellowknife, NT. Yellowknife is such a rugged and beautiful part of Canada making it a must see destination if you have never been. This is a self portrait where I was lying down on the road with an oncoming truck very far off in the distance. I was amazed at how beautiful the color of the ice was and how interesting the crack formations were. It is certainly a place that defines the character and beauty of Canada in my mind.

Judge’s comment: This photograph is mysterious and eye-catching. It provokes a number of questions: What is the man doing there? What is the light source beneath him? It also provokes excitement, even anxiety: What is coming down the road toward him and is he in danger? In short, it tells a story, asks questions and throws the viewer off balance, while at the same time presenting a beautiful image.

Second place: Connected we move mountains by Crystal Chan

Connected we move mountains by Crystal Chan

This photograph features the shimmering surface of a cobblestoned fountain base. I was well on my way home when – out of the corner of my eye – those vibrant hues of these stones caught my attention. Glued together in place, the spherical nature of each individual cobblestone lends itself as the perfect metaphor for the diverse perspectives people bring to Canada.

Judge’s comment: This image speaks to one of the highest ideals of photography: finding beauty in the everyday, common world that we move through each day. It’s easy to become so accustomed to what surrounds us that we fail to see potential photographs, but when we really look, it’s amazing what we can find.

Third place: Take Off by Nicholas Taffs

Take Off by Nicholas Taffs

I spent most of the morning to get this shot. I set up my camera under the birdhouse and then sat back at my car with the remote shutter and snapped away every time the parents would fly back to the nest. This was the fastest shutter speed I could get and the wings still are not in focus. These barn swallows are lightning fast.

Judge’s comment: This photograph succeeds because of the dramatic and unusual angle from which it is taken, along with the perfect position of the bird in flight with wings fully spread. The backlighting and color hues also make this image dynamic and cohesive.

Honourable mention: Old house by Veronica Manole

Old House by Veronica Manole

What the wind can cause in the prairie of Saskatchewan …

Judge’s comment: “Who has seen the wind?” W.O. Mitchell asks the question in the title of one of the most celebrated works in Canadian literature. While no one can actually see the wind, seeing its effect on things leads us to believe we can, as is evident in this photo. With the addition of the expansive prairie sky and late, raking light, this makes for one beautiful image. 

We congratulate Gary, Crystal and Nicholas on their winning photos.


  • First place: $1,000
  • Second place: $500
  • Third place: $250

The Judge

We thank our contest judge Rob Atkins for his keen eye and insightful comments. Rob is a professional photographer whose work has appeared in publications internationally and has been used by a wide range of commercial clients.