TRU photographer looks at Kamloops over time

Brendan Kergin, Arts & Entertainment Editor Ω

The name Kamloops comes from the Shuswap word Tk’əmlúps, which means meeting of the waters, in reference to two rivers meeting. Now know as the North and South Thompson,  the two channels intersect becoming the Thompson River. This waterway comprises the subject matter for a new exhibit at the Kamloops Art Gallery created by Ernie Kroeger, a photographer and assistant professor in the visual and performing arts department at TRU.

Confluence, an exhibit at the Kamloops Art Gallery,is a collection of historical and current photographs Kroeger has gathered with one, sequential subject matter over time; the confluence of the Thompson Rivers. The show also displays a text portion looking at the different iterations of Kamloops discovered by Kroeger during his search through the city’s history.

While Kroeger has put on shows before, Confluence didn’t come to fruition like other projects.

“This time it came more out of teaching. I teach a history of photography course and so I sometimes use all kinds of images, like world history,” Kroeger said. “I thought I would put some Canadian content over the years, into my history class and then B.C. content and then Kamloops content. Give students a local flavour.”

He was able to collect the photos from a variety of sources, primarily scouring archives in Kamloops and online archives in major Canadian cities such as Calgary, Victoria and Ottawa.

“That was really interesting, to realize that these images of Kamloops were everywhere,” Kroeger said.

His inspiration came somewhere a lot closer to TRU.

“I would say some of the inspiration came out of teaching this class,” Kroeger said. “I started using some of those images in my PowerPoint presentations.”

The photos range in age with the earliest taken in 1865 just 25 years after the birth of the medium in Europe and eastern North America. To get the pre-Canadian picture the photographer would have had to travel great distances by horse, carrying bags of equipment.

“At the time they had to carry all this equipment,” Kroeger said. “They had to carry chemicals and glass plate negatives and they had to make their negatives.”

The first few photographs of Kamloops were taken as part of an expedition by a colonial administrator.  The city wouldn’t see another photographer for six years.

Confluence takes these historical pictures and allows the viewer to compare the same section of landscape over time, up until the late-1960s. From that point in time there are only a couple more photographs, including a recent picture of Kroeger taken by his wife while he walks on the riverbed during a period of low water and images taken from Google Earth, staring down on the intersection from orbit.

For those interested in comparing the landscape and human interaction with such a central point of Kamloops, Confluence will be flowing on until Nov. 3 at the Kamloops Art Gallery.