In the mid 20th century, the streets of Vancouver boasted about 19,000 neon signs.
The company Neon Products Ltd., located in the city, estimated that Vancouver had the second-most neon signs per capita on the globe, after Shanghai.
A Flickr set by the Vancouver Public Library collects black-and-white images of some of the city’s signage as it appeared in the 1950s.
In his history of neon, Christoph Ribbat writes that by the 1950s and 1960s, the style was on its way out, “replaced by backlit plastic structures that were becoming considerably easier to use, more flexible and more durable” than the breakable glass tubes of classic neon signage.
In Vancouver, as the curators of the Museum of Vancouver write, many neon signs fell victim to a “visual purity crusade” in the 1960s.
Critics thought that the neon cheapened the look of the streets, and obscured Vancouver’s natural beauty. (“We’re being led by the nose into a hideous jungle of signs,” wrote a critic in the Vancouver Sun—a newspaper whose headquarters was prominently bedecked in neon—in 1966.
“They’re outsized, outlandish, and outrageous.”)
Now, the night time images, many featuring the telltale shimmer of British Columbian rain on pavement, look beautiful: a noir landscape worthy of Blade Runner.
As with any fishing trip, trolling the Great White North for char, smelt and salmon requires a pole, bait and enough beer to keep your buddies in good spirits.
But given the potential for -40° temperatures and howling winds, Canadian anglers insist on shelter, too.
Not that it has to be sophisticated.
The basic requirements include a roof, four walls, and a hole cut in the floor through which to lure the catch of the day.
Scrap plywood and repurposed two-by-fours constitute the most popular materials. Indoor amenities range from a woodstove or propane heater to a kitchenette or satellite TV.
Though Quebecois are known for kitsch and Newfoundlanders for dogged wit, a certain patriotic scrappiness reigns supreme, which is why Toronto architectural photographer Richard Johnson turned his lens toward the makeshift homesteads.
“All the work I do for architects is highly polished,” he explains.
“I was drawn to ice huts because they are crooked and textured and every one is so different.
”Beyond Photoshopping out the inevitable yellow pee stains around these man caves, Johnson took a hyperrealistic approach—employing a straight-on angle, gray-sky lighting and a chest-high horizon line—to bring the unique qualities of each shack into sharp focus.
“I see them as portraits of the hut owners without the owners present.”
Hôtel de Glace. Photo by | Copyright: Creative Commons
Contributor: atimian (Editor)
Comprised of 15,000 tons of snow and 500,000 tons of ice, the Hôtel de Glace, Canada is a massive undertaking, yet each spring it completely disappears.
With only a four-month lifespan, the Ice Hotel takes a month and a half and 60 full-time workers to finish its rooms, but the result is a spectacular blend of chilly, natural architecture and ambient pastel light.
Altogether, the hotel features 85 bedrooms along with a club, art gallery, and even a chapel that usually hosts a handful of weddings.
Every inch of the hotel is created out of ice, including the furniture.
To make the rooms more livable, beds are covered with furs, blankets and sleeping bags tested to arctic temperatures.
The only areas of the hotel that are heated are a few outdoor bathrooms, along with a few outdoor hot tubs to add to the experience.
Considered an example of a pure ice structure, the hotel is not supported by anything except the icy walls, which can be as thick as four feet to insulate the hotel.
Although you might not get four-star service, the Hôtel de Glace is certainly a unique experience as it changes in layout and complexity every year.