Birling the Skatepark Effect
Wesley Lee, Drop down to 50-50. Cayer By Adam Wawrzynczak There was once a time when skateparks acted primarily as warm-up spots....
Over the years I had always wanted to do a photo exhibit, but I never really had a reason to do one. So, when I was asked by the boys at Primary Skateboards in Nanaimo if I wanted to do an exhibit as an event to coincide with their Grand Opening I was down instantly. Because of Nanaimo’s central location, having lived there for a few years over my life and knowing Primary’s Jordan Pletz + crew for over a decade it seemed like the perfect location to showcase a collection of images I’ve been lucky to document from up and down the Island through 2004 to 2020.
The name FerryTakers was ordained on us by the Zone 3 Crew years ago, possibly originating from Magnus Hanson. If there’s something every Islander skater has in common with one another, we’ve all spent countless hours on one of those boats and all know the regret you feel after finishing a meal from the Coastal Cafe. If you’re in the area swing by Primary to say what up and check out 80+ photos from a few of the best FerryTakers over the last decade and a half. Let’s get it! —Matt MacLeod
Primary Skateboards Grand Opening details:
Saturday, October 17th
5pm – 10pm
Primary Skateboards, #4 China Steps Nanaimo BC
– Face masks mandatory and provided. Hand sanitizer on-site.
– All proceeds from print sales to support the Nanaimo Skateboard Associations winter indoor sessions for kids.
Jamie Collins’ Secret Ramp
“It’s like as if Jurassic Park crossed with where those Ewoks are from.”
That’s how Jamie Collins explained the location of his secret concrete mini-ramp he was building to me one winter night in Tofino around 2010. The only pictures of the spot were on his flip phone, but it was hard to even tell what you were looking at because the photos were so grainy and small. Jamie continued to explain that he had been working on this spot for a little over a year and was hoping that we’d head out to skate it that summer.
It was another year before a trip was organized to finally see and skate Jamie’s masterpiece. Early in September 2011 Jamie, Jason Picton, Evan Schuhmann and myself began the drive into the rainforest to see what Jamie had created. Jason was the only one out of the three of us that had roughly seen what the ramp would look like. My imagination was running wild. After what seemed like an eternity of long twisting logging roads we stopped driving the trucks and got out to begin our trek into the bush.
Getting to the spot was like being in an Indiana Jones movie. The first leg of the journey consisted of walking across a 100+ ft Douglas Fir that had snapped in the middle creating a V shaped bridge over a river. Jamie then led us aimlessly into the woods. The forest floor was covered in thick ferns and brush. All of the trees were covered in thick green moss that hung from their branches. It was almost impossible to get an idea of where we were headed and the thought that there was a concrete mini somewhere around didn’t seem right.
Then out of nowhere it appeared. A freestanding skinny quarter pipe on the right that led to a meticulously placed brick transition on the left. The sight stopped you instantly in your tracks.
The above photo of Jamie’s Tre Flip was one of the only photos that we got at the session. The spot was soaked and mudded, which made it really hard to skate. You can see how muddy it was by looking at Jamie’s griptape. After awhile of skating we decided that we needed to plan another mission when it was dry.
We planned to go back and spend all of Labour Day weekend in 2012 shooting. However, Jamie passed away on August 17th, 2012 and we never had the chance to go back, this three flip was the last photo we ever shot together. This has been a constant reminder to me always enjoy the moment you’re in to the fullest and look at every day as a blessing because you may not get to go back for a second go.
^ Aaron Sheare, Brandan Soros, Matt Gravel, Cheyenne Hehr, Shay Sandiford & Eric Timmins.
The photo of the Instrumental Team blindfolded was from a trip we did in 2012 to celebrate Jamie’s spot, following the instructions he wanted for taking the boys out to there.
Ramp Camp got its start in 2005 in Port Alberni at the Collins’ Farm as a demo with the Natural Koncept Team and continued to evolve from there with another NK Demo in 2006, a Boardroom Demo in 2007 and in 2008 it was more of show up and have a good time vibe. The overview photo you see of the ramps is from the 2006 demo. Each year the after party started to get more and more turnt as the whole town of PA eventually started to show up to just get wasted. The Collins’ Farm also doubles as a family campground, so things eventually had to change because Mr. and Mrs. Collins were not down with the partying, for reasons that are obvious.
^ Brandan Soros, 360 Flip to fakie.
After 2008 the decision was made to evolve the Ramp Demos into Instrumental Ramp Camp and move it from the farm to Sproat Lake for summer 2009. Ramp Camp ran from 2009 through 2011 and it progressively got better and better and bigger and bigger. More of the island started showing up at an extremely remote location on the lake. People started renting house boats and docking them, there were multiple campsite locations with a shitty bridge that connected them over a large stream (that eventually broke). The party was getting so big that the bears eventually started showing up to see what was going on.
^ Brando Wells & Eric Timmins
When Jamie passed away in 2012 his celebration of life acted as that year’s Ramp Camp back on the Collins’ farm. And that’s when the next evolution of Ramp Camp took place and turned into Jamie Collins Ramp Camp for Kids. From 2012 through 2019 Ramp Camp served as a weekend for kids all over the island to come to the Farm to learn how to skate mini ramp and street when a large concrete slab was eventually poured. The weekend served as an opportunity for multiple generations of skaters from all over the island to connect, reflect on what’s important and have an epic time in memory of a man how impacted all of us.
The PA Taste
If you know the boys from Port Alberni you know that the PA Taste is a staple of our late night and early morning shenanigans. Call it what you want, but it’s a rite of passage.
This particular photo has always had a special place in all of the Instrumental boys hearts. First because it was the first time we had the whole Instrumental Team together, on the farm and skating together. There had been team trips before, but for one reason or another there was always someone that couldn’t make it.
Dave Graham, Sean Hanebury, Dan Redmond, Matt Gravel, Kris Hemminson, Eric Timmins, Jamie Collins, Aaron Shear, Benson Wishart, Brandan Soros and Brando Wells.
A staple of getting together was that Brando and Jamie would stay up all night drinking Luckies, talking life and strategizing. We would all try and stay up with them, but it was impossible. Somehow Luckies kept those two going all night, still not sure how. Another staple of getting the boys together is Eric Timmins talking mad shit to everyone, nonstop, all day, all night. There’s a reason he has a tattoo saying “shut up and skate” on his arm.
The morning this photo was taken ETimms had been talking NONSTOP shit to Brando and Jamie and they challenged him to a round of the PA Taste. Eric wouldn’t step up and he continued to talk smack to them until it got to the point where he was getting a taste whether he liked it or not.
I love this photo because a few things. First, the look in Jamie’s left eye is of someone who has been up all night and hasn’t slept. Second, the shit eating grin on Brando that we all know and love. Third, it shut Eric up for like… an hour.
Dane Pryds, Kickflip.
This is one of my favorite shots I’ve ever taken. One, because it is the craziest spot I’ve been too and two, Dane is one of my favorite humans on the planet.
To get to this spot you have to sneak through the forest through somebody’s property in East Sooke. I’m not sure how it was even found. It’s a development that was halted mid-project for reasons unknown. Why the developer decided to waste a ton of money building a road to an island is beyond me and I still have no idea what it would be for.
When we went there the first time no one had ever stepped to it and Dane ollied it first try. Dane hadn’t had enough, and we went back there for a second go to get this kickflip.
I’ll always remember this day cause the apartment that me and my wifey were subletting had just been fumigated for bedbugs and the night before we had just spent our first night back in it. While shooting the photo new bites had started to show up on my arm and I was so pissed off it was hard to focus on shooting the photo. In the end we got the shot, and we moved out the pad and threw out all our things and I’ve been mentally traumatized about bug bites ever since. Fuck bedbugs.
If you’re in the Nanaimo area, stop by Primary Skateboards (#4 China Steps) on October 17th between 5pm – 10pm to see Matt MacLeod’s full photo exhibit, documenting over a decade and a half of Island skateboarding.