Friday, December 6, 2013

NS Industrial Update: Bowater Mersey

Entrance to the offices at Bowater Mersey, Brooklyn, NS
After photographing Stanfield's Limited in Truro in early November, I figured that was pretty much the end of the photography portion of this project. When I was beginning to sort through some of the 2000 frames I'd taken so far, a contact got back to me with information about the Bowater Mersey paper mill in Brooklyn, on the southern shore of Nova Scotia. A few emails later and we were on our way down to tour the plant!

Tanks at Bowater Mersey, NS
The old Mersey started production back in 1929 and primarily produced newsprint over the course of its life. The Chronicle Herald and The Washington Post were two of its largest buyers, but the plant had been idled in mid-2012 due to high operational costs. Now decommissioned, a crew had started deconstruction of some of the buildings just a few weeks before we arrived. Damn! Nonetheless, outfitted in our reflective vests, hard hats and steel-toed boots, we toured the facilities looking for engaging subject matter. Our guide was knowledgeable about the space and explained much to us about the process of a "thermomechanical" (TMP) mill, such as Bowater Mersey was.

The paper making process
Unfortunately, the most telling aspect of a pulp and paper mill, its Fourdrinier-style paper machine (the floor filled with large rollers where the pulp is pressed, dried, cut and placed on rolls etc.), was virtually un-photographable as the power had been cut and the room was plunged into darkness. Even without the room lights, I managed to make some interesting images with the natural light trickling through the few windows that were there. Other areas of the plant still had power and I worked away photographing in the sodium-lit industrial landscape.

After about two and half months of pretty consistent travelling and shooting, Liz and I are now in the editing stages and will soon be designing the jewellery pieces. More on that to come soon!

The end of the line, Bowater Mersey, Brooklyn, NS

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