Saturday, 5 April 2014

Kogos: Scenic tour through images

It amazes and delights me when someone like author and photographer Jan McQuay, who was born and raised in the village of Mindemoya on Manitoulin, then went off to school and lived in Toronto for more than 30 years, returns home to live again on “her” island.

In Jan’s new book, Scenic Manitoulin Through the Seasons, there is colour and life and joy. I phone her to congratulate her. Happily, we dish.

When Jan returned to Manitoulin to care for her aging parents, she realized, yet again, how much Manitoulin offers. In 2005, she started a small business combining her passion, photography, and her new hobby, making pottery. Her annual Scenic Manitoulin calendars have been showcasing the island’s charm ever since. Her company is called McQuay Click Clay.

“I thought people might like pictures of the amazing scenery here, and people might like to know what Manitoulin looks like in all seasons. So I created scenic calendars and note cards with pictures and began to attend the Mindemoya summer market. One summer I did five markets a week, met so many people. I have to confess that being on Manitoulin can make you tired with so much to do.”

With her background as an author in environmental energy, Jan decided to take on a marvelous Manitoulin challenge: Photographing scenes and sights for the visitor and providing up to date research and commentary on the photographs she has taken. She shares what she knows and has studied and learned further about Manitoulin’s history, geology, farming, fishing and more. Her website is

While I sit in New York City at my desk, I linger over her 66 photographs of all seasons, sob and smile, and get my winter Manitoulin mojo percolating. In the preface, Jan writes: “Consider driving around Manitoulin Island on a bright sunny day, any time of year. The scenery will make you smile.”

And smile I do. Wandering through the pages of Scenic Manitoulin Through the Seasons, I experience the rich compendium of photographs and her own researched and personal comments. Reading her observations, I feel as if I’m sitting next to Jan in the car, and hearing her tell me about her pictures and places.

Jan’s dad was a photography enthusiast. Jan remembers having a point-and-shoot camera, not a “real” one like her dad’s Pentax. “When I was eight, he gave me a 35-mm camera and showed me how to make adjustments with shutter speed and aperture; I used a chart that came with each roll of film. I started by taking pictures of my doll. I still have those.”

Never mind that Jan is a talented potter; her artistic handmade cups, small bowls and candle holders are just right to pack in your suitcase.

It’s her book, Scenic Manitoulin Through the Seasons, that grabs your eyes and heart, allowing you to revel in her masterful photographs and enjoy her commentary.

Our Bonnie continues to explore what’s wonderful on Manitoulin and is gearing up for her addictions to the farmers markets and yard sales. Find her at


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