As we travel through the Valley we are finding more questions than answers in our quest to gain some understanding about its economic history. We photograph the mansions in the towns that were build with the wealth of the ship building, trade and agriculture in the 19th century, and we ask ourselves to what extent this wealth was distributed in terms of wages and taxes in the interest of creating savings and public services in the community of workers? It is telling, we believe, that in group photographs of children in front of their one room school houses there are always several kids in bare feet and most are poorly dressed. The record of conditions in the lumber camps and mills is even more distressing. When the wooden ship building finally closed at the end of the 19th century a textile mill (when it closed it was called Windsor Wear) was started in Windsor, similarly in 1960 a mill was opened near Bridgetown (Britex). These were hopeful initiatives but they basically created single industry towns, were far from their suppliers and markets, high cost in energy and in the end incapable to withstand the forces of globalisation. Both mills closed in the first half of the first decade in the 21st century. We reflect a lot on the history and future of agriculture in the Valley and we wonder how we can ever compete under our climatic conditions that only allow one crop a year of just about anything we want to grow. We often hear about the superiority of the soil quality in the Valley. But when we photographed the Valley from the brim of North Mountain in an East to West direction it becomes clear that there is a lot more bush land than cultivated land. This raises questions about the soil capability for productive agriculture. We need to get a much better handle on the Valley economic history and its potential to help us decide what to photograph to communicate the realities as we find them.
Hannah Minzloff Dick Groot
As photo-based artists, we are visualizing the physical transformations of the land and its use and looking at the future of the Annapolis Valley through innovative initiatives in sustainable food production, transportation, energy, community and youth engagement.