June 14th, 2024

New photo book a portrait of province’s disappearing heritage


By Ry Clarke - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on October 29, 2022.

Abandoned Alberta II by Joe Chowaniec

Albertan Joe Chowaniec has released his second book on photography in Alberta, titled Abandoned Alberta II. The book takes audiences through a visual journey of the past, showcasing rural and abandoned places in the province to remind readers of the history here in our backyards.

“I think I’m up to 22,000 kilometres of Alberta roads back and forth driving all over the place,” said Chowaniec. “When I started, it was more of a random wherever the car drove we would just randomly go driving in a direction and going up and down range roads searching for stuff. Now I get a lot of suggestions from people or invites to come and take photographs of places.”

Going all over Alberta, Chowaniec has captured moments in time that resonate with Albertans who have a love for the rich history of the area. On page 96 of his book, readers can recognize The Mallroy and Carnegie General Merchants in Kirkcaldy that was featured in the Tragically Hip’s music video “Locked In the Trunk of a Car.”

“There is a lot of amazing history out there in the province that people aren’t aware of that is disappearing,” said Chowaniec. “There is a lot of history out there, and people probably wouldn’t know about it driving by and having no clue about it.”

Doing photography as a side job, Chowaniec works for a non-profit that works in environmental services, seeing the beauty in everyday Alberta as he travels the province.

“I spent a lot of time on the road for my job. Travelling from Edmonton to Fort McMurray,” said Chowaniec. “One day, I just decided to take my camera and I was just looking for something to photograph. I started with multiple buildings on the road, and one thing led to another.”

Published by MacIntyre Purcell Publishing Inc. Abandoned Alberta II looks at the history of Alberta and the way our world evolves yet holds onto the history that has made our province what it is and showcasing the rural side of life.

“I hope when people look at the photos, they see more than a pile of lumber that they wonder why someone hasn’t torn it down,” said Chowaniec. “Whether it’s an old school or farm, that was somebody’s dream. Those dreams helped make Alberta what it is today.”

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