A Montreal Adventure

The future is always a question. All that we can do as humans is act, and seek confirmation. My most recent action has been a decision to invest a large portion of my savings into myself, specifically into capital that I intend to use to contribute positively to society as well as gain financial and experiential return on my investment in order to sustain a livelihood. Imagemaking being my professed profession (I’ve decide to start calling myself an image-maker), a camera is key tool in that equation. After weeks, months, a year of research I quite confidently decided on the Canon 5D mk III as my sword.

I won’t bore you with the details, but I ended up getting an incredible deal and our journey started off with an intimidating professional camera: none other than the 5D mk III. Eric also picked up one of the GoPro 3’s, so we were two boys with new toys and we were ready for an adventure.

We met with a professor from Sheridan college in the evening, John Kneller. He is big in the experimental film realm, and does a lot of timelapse work (all using film, which is an incredibly intensive workflow, as you can imagine). One of the big things that he does is build systems to add motion to his timelapses. He was incredibly kind and helpful, and showed us a rig that he had built for students to use, and offered to lend it to us! We of course excitedly accepted.

The rig he lent us is essentially a tripod head with several gears, a belt and a motor to slowly rotate the head. It theoretically should take about 2 hours for the head to do a 360 using a 12 volt battery.

We left Toronto somewhere around 10:30 pm and drove through the night, arriving in Montreal around 4:00 am. Once we had figured out where we were staying, we headed up to the top of Mont Royale to set up this timelapse. It was cold—a cold that dominated the events of the following several hours before sunrise. It was probably around -20 to -30 and much colder with the wind chill. Sitting inside the car, we tested out the rig and began setting it up. We weren’t convinced that it was working so we ended up taking part of it apart to make sure none of the gears were seized up. Once we had it set up and were moderately confident that it was working properly, we dashed out into the cold to quickly set it up as fast as possible before sprinting back to the moderate warmth of the car. I thought my face was going to melt off. The rest of the morning consisted of running in and out of the car to check on and adjust things.

The sunrise over Montreal was absolutely magnificent. Unfortunately the timelapse was a failure due to the poor exposure, and the fact that it panned too fast (we needed a smaller battery, potentially). We packed up around 7:30 am and headed down the mountain, stopping at Tim Hortons for some breakfast before heading to Ilya and Jessica’s place where we were staying. Watch the video to see some of the excitement.

We rested for a little bit, and then went out again. I met up with Adora, and Eric met up with one of his friends. We spent the rest of the evening catching up. It was so good to see Adora; I can’t believe that it had been 4 years.

The following day will forever be an excellent memory. It began with Ilya excitedly waking me up to inform me that there was a new letter from the Universal House of Justice, which has caused quite a bit of commotion in the Baha’i community. It announced the holding of 95 youth conferences around the world, which is indeed very exciting. This is the closing paragraph of the message, one that is quite stirring:

“Beloved friends: To every generation of young believers comes an opportunity to make a contribution to the fortunes of humanity, unique to their time of life. For the present generation, the moment has come to reflect, to commit, to steel themselves for a life of service from which blessing will flow in abundance. In our prayers at the Sacred Threshold, we entreat the Ancient Beauty that, from out a distracted and bewildered humanity, He may distil pure souls endowed with clear sight: youth whose integrity and uprightness are not undermined by dwelling on the faults of others and who are not immobilized by any shortcomings of their own; youth who will look to the Master and “bring those who have been excluded into the circle of intimate friends”; youth whose consciousness of the failings of society impels them to work for its transformation, not to distance themselves from it; youth who, whatever the cost, will refuse to pass by inequity in its many incarnations and will labour, instead, that “the light of justice may shed its radiance upon the whole world.”” – The Universal House of Justice

Ilya was so excited that he couldn’t work, and spent the morning mapping out where each of the conferences will be.

Eric and I left around 12:00 to go to Adora’s place. It had been snowing all day and continued for the remainder of the day. The roads were pretty nasty. Again, it was so great to spend the day with Adora and Eric. Such a wonderful day. We took the bus and train to the old part of Montreal and to the port. We spent the afternoon wandering through the blizzard and the beautiful streets. It was relaxing and exciting. We had a delicious lunch at a small restaurant; I had crepes with heavenly maple syrup. J’adore le francais; I love the culture. My French is pretty terrible, but I did my best to order in French, although often they would end up switching to English which was rather annoying. I need to go somewhere where they don’t speak english in order to develop mon francais.

We spent the remainder of the afternoon frequenting art galleries, and wandering in and out of the snow. It was an art gallery crawl, and I loved it. Je l’ai adoré.

As evening approached, we made our way to the shrine—the house in Montreal where Abdu’l-Bahá stayed during His visit to Canada. It is such a beautiful and well-kept building, and it was so refreshing to the soul to meditate and pray. I didn’t want to leave, but by the time I did my soul was overflowing with joy and tranquility (yes, overflowing with tranquility). We took the bus to Adora’s where she was holding a devotional gathering, which was a phenomenal close to the day especially after coming from the Shrine. We stayed to socialize until around 3:00 am and then took our leave. It was sad to say goodbye to Adora, but so so so good to see her and have the opportunity to spend those two days together. It is amazing how time flies and our lives evolve. The most special friendships are those that stay strong as ever despite the evolution of our surroundings and the test of time. It was a truly wonderful few days, and I really enjoyed it. Thank you to everyone who made it so wonderful!