When capturing Canada in photos didn't show instant results
Over 100 photographers aimed to capture Canada's essence on a single day in June, 1984
On a single day in Canada, photographers collaborated by snapping thousands of photos that didn't see the light of day for months — if ever.
June 8, 1984 was the day those photographers fanned out across the country, and it started in Cape Spear, N.L.
They were contributing to a project that would become a coffee-table book, A Day in the Life of Canada.
The day started in Cape Spear, N.L., where photographer Boris Spremo's plan to capture the rising sun was foiled by thick fog.
"If it's fog, if it's rain, if it's snow, I don't care ... I'm still going to make the picture," Spremo told reporter Dan Bjarnason after capturing the local lighthouse and its keeper instead.
Spremo was just one of over 100 professional photographers from 19 countries hired for the effort.
In Montreal, 19-year-old shutterbug Charles Gander of Michigan arranged three employees of a fruit market in front of their shop.
And a shopping mall fashion show was immortalized on film by "glamour photographer" Douglas Kirkland.
Sophistication? In Toronto?
"I'm looking to show sophistication, which exists here in Toronto," he said. "And I don't want people to think that Canada's only the RCMP riding across the tundra on a dogsled."
Rick Smolen, who was also the project's coordinator, took his camera to the Winnipeg Commodity Exchange as traders shouted and gestured.
Months later, the book is ready
By November 1984, some of the 100,000 pictures that had been taken that day could be seen in the pages of the newly published A Day in the Life of Canada.
Just 255 photos made it into the book, and Smolen said it had been heartbreaking to choose them.
"What do you leave out of a book like this?" he asked reporter Cathy Legedza. "It's like you're on a boat, the ocean liner is sinking and you can only take three of your kids and there's six kids on the boat."
At the time Smolen was speaking at an exhibition of 250 of the photos, many of which didn't make the cut, and that would be on tour for the next five years.
And he revealed that the fog in Newfoundland had been a harbinger for the rest of the country that day.
"Somebody told us it was the worst weather in June in like 18 years in Canada," he said. "In a way it almost made the pictures more intimate, because it made people go indoors."