A van bearing the faces of hundreds of Canadians rolled through Fernie on Monday, March 30.
The driver was Red Deer-born photographer Tim Van Horn who has criss-crossed the country six times over the last seven years to photograph 54,000 Canadian faces for a national mosaic project.
The project itself is titled the Canadian Mosaic Project and is meant as an ode to Canada turning 150-years-old upon July 1, 2017.
“On October 1, 2008 I left my home in Red Deer, Alberta and I decided I was going to meet 54,000 people from all over and make this Canadian flag mosaic,” said Van Horn. “The reason why I decided on 54,000 is because that counts for 0.150 per cent of the current Canadian population.”
Van Horn has currently amassed photos of 40,000 people of all ethnicities, ages, genders and occupations. He is currently on his final 16-month trek across the country to obtain the final 14,000.
While in Fernie, Van Horn said that he captured approximately a dozen faces to add to the mosaic and that his experiences with meeting people in approximately 950 towns and cities across Canada have been mostly positive.
“85 per cent of the time people are saying ‘yes’ to their picture getting taken,” said Van Horn. “It’s this wild rush because people are trusting this total stranger with their photograph and I feel a sense of duty to do good with their image. It’s not about money or ego it’s about bringing the country together and putting a face to who we are and what our collective humanity and cultural identity looks like.”
Van Horn has described the six-year road trip as a karma-fuelled journey that often relies on the kindness of strangers both to lend their faces to the project and their donations to keep him on the road.
“There have been so many times where I’ve been stranded on the side of the road or a stranger has given me $20 for gas in order to make it to the next town,” said Van Horn. “That’s the beauty with a project like this. It’s meant to inspire people to believe in themselves and their neighbourhood and communities. It’s this beautiful visual that has all this life to it — an actual tapestry of Canadians.”
Upon its completion, Van Horn intends to make one last tour across the country with the completed mosaic, intending to drop by the towns he once visited and the people he photographed to show off the finished project.
“Over the years I’ve visited a lot of towns twice and sometimes I end up meeting the same person I met two years ago, which is crazy,” said Van Horn. “But that’s the beauty of this trip. Each day is like a brand new set of characters to stand before and find the story within that. As a photographer, this is a dream come true and it’s taken me my whole life to do this.”
For more information on the Canadian Mosaic Project visit www.canadianmosaic.ca