The spirit of the Spirit Catcher

It would be a safe bet that the Spirit Catcher, located in Barrie, Ontario’s downtown waterfront, is probably the most photographed landmark in the city. Created by sculptor Ron Baird for Expo 86 in Vancouver, British Columbia, it’s a unique symbol that garners attention from everyone who passes by.

The Spirit Catcher is imposing and striking, all at once. Capturing its 65-foot height (and 70-foot width) is a challenge if you want to capture its true essence. The structure is so big that, for me, loses its impact on its full scale. As I do with all of my images, I set out to create something simple but impactful, and on a bright Sunday morning, took camera and tripod and waited for the right moment.

I had to wait a long time—about an hour. I framed the shot that I wanted, but there was a problem: the wind. The heavy quills that make up the wings are made of weathering (COR-TEN) steel, and the bluster from Kempenfelt Bay kept them swinging slowly to and fro. A number of people had come by during this time, asking me all kinds of questions, including an older gentleman who asked why it was taking so long—he had been watching me the entire time!

Finally, the wind subsided for about half a minute, handing me my chance. The light was fairly constant as I’d waited, but at this particular moment, it was just right, giving me exactly what I’d had in mind. I clicked the shutter, chatted for a time with the old man, and bid him farewell with a smile.