Photo exhibit showcases the essence of Muskoka


As part of his ongoing Looking For Muskoka series, local photographer Sandy McLennan has installed an exhibition of his recent photographs at the Dwight Public Library. The photo exhibit is in conjunction with the library’s Artist of the Month event.

McLennan is exhibiting a dozen recent photographs that were shot on film and processed/printed in his home darkroom. He is always “looking for Muskoka” with his camera (lately 35mm black and white film, and sometimes digital still and video cameras).

Thirty years after arriving in the area, and contemplating moving from the bush back to town, McLennan uses photography to show his reactions to changes in the appearance and mood of what was once to him, and to many, a mythical place. What is it that drew us here (if we came from away), what has changed, and what keeps us here? What does it look and feel like to our children who grew up here and may now view it via some travelled and experienced eyes? And what does it look and feel like to new visitors?

pinhole photography

Sandy McLennan with his pinhole camera and an image he developed. (Photo supplied by Sandy McLennan)

His subjects are usually what he calls “under-maintained elements” and are reflective of the constantly changing social and geographical Muskoka landscape. The images ponder the essence of this place that is built on humans interacting with nature, and how that essence looks different comparing the ghost of a once-bustling burger building with the ghost of forests now clear-cut to make way for suburban box stores. People move on; the face of the place is altered.

This ongoing series of photographs gives viewers an opportunity to see and think for themselves what we have.

The unique hand-made prints can be seen at the Dwight Library, and digital scans of the negatives can be viewed at

The Dwight Public Library is open on Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


Lake of Bays public libraries in Dwight and Baysville have wall space for exhibiting artwork (paintings, sketches, photographs). Dwight librarian Cathy Fairbairn is professional and supportive of thoughtful art. She and The Friends of the Dwight Library are taking applications for ongoing exhibitions. For more information call 705-635-3319 or email [email protected].

McLennan is keen on the use and resurgence of film. He introduces his students, ranging from ages 11 and older, to film photography, and leads them in building a cardboard box pinhole camera to capture photographs which are developed in a portable darkroom. Muskoka elementary students will be doing this as their winter elective this year, and adults will have an opportunity to shoot film this spring. McLennan also shoots Super 8 motion picture film, develops it in the darkroom and shows it on an old-time projector.

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