In Pictures: 2021 in Victoria

How Capital Daily saw Victoria this year, from Fairy Creek to abandoned boats to the heat dome

By James MacDonald
December 31, 2021

In Pictures: 2021 in Victoria

How Capital Daily saw Victoria this year, from Fairy Creek to abandoned boats to the heat dome

By James MacDonald
Dec 31, 2021
Colin Smith / Capital Daily
Colin Smith / Capital Daily

In Pictures: 2021 in Victoria

How Capital Daily saw Victoria this year, from Fairy Creek to abandoned boats to the heat dome

By James MacDonald
December 31, 2021
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In Pictures: 2021 in Victoria

The year we're leaving behind is one for the history books: A changing climate at our front door with historic storms, sweltering heat domes, and devastating flooding. Our streets were filled with those fighting for change and a better future, while land defenders fought against loggers and the police to protect old growth. And all the while our education in the Greek alphabet continues as we continue to navigate the ups and downs of COVID-19.

But 2021 was not all struggle and challenge. Island athletes, despite all the trials, represented Canada at the Olympics in Tokyo. There was a magical Valentine’s Day snow storm, epic island sunsets, stories of hope and success and progress made.

And while the Capital Daily has been working to carve out a place for in-depth, long-form reporting and storytelling. There is also a team of visual storytellers working to help illustrate those stories: adding context to those incredible pieces of writing, putting a faces to names, offering a visual document and record of historic events, and if now and then they nab a photo or two of a rainbow, who can blame them?  

As we prepare to step into 2022, let’s take a look back at the Capital Daily’s year in photos for 2021.


Curious onlookers, with the trail of their headlamps visible, investigate a beached and (at high tide) sunken boat across from the Oak Bay Marina. From the story The abandoned boats washing up on Victoria’s shores. Story and photos by James MacDonald @jmacdo01.

“I was looking for one final image set to wrap up the story and offer a different visual than the ones we already had. I had seen this mast poking out of the waves a few times driving by the Oak Bay Marina, and wanted to see what this recent stranding might offer. I timed my visit with one of the lowest tides of the winter and stopped by for a look.

Parking the car, I could just see the sailboat high and dry as the tide was incredibly far out. But also around it I saw lights. Not the most normal thing to expect in the late evening. So I must have looked a little odd as I sprinted across the quiet Oak Bay streets, camera bag and tripod in hand, trying to get to the best vantage point before these snooping headlamps disappeared. Luckily, I got things set up, framed up, and was able to make 8-10 frames of these people poking around this washed up boat, which in turn beautifully illuminated the vessel and made for the most dynamic picture of the whole story.” – James MacDonald


A beautiful portrait of Jess Housty from the story All-In: Heiltsuk leader Jess Housty is building her community for resilience by Andrew Findlay.

A man hucks a snowball at someone to camera right, during the Valentines Day snowstorm in downtown Victoria. A beautifully timed taste of winter during what was a tough few months last year. Photo by James MacDonald, from the story PHOTOS: Victorians celebrate a rare snow day amid pandemic with photos from  James MacDonald @jmacdo01 and Jimmy Thomson @jwsthomson.

Protestors march through the streets of downtown Victoria as they demand action on rape allegations connected to a bar and one of its employees. Photo by James MacDonald @jmacdo01, from the story Rape allegations connected to a popular bar lead to a reckoning for Victoria’s restaurant culture by Tori Marlin, Brishi Basu, and Jimmy Thomson.

The HMCS Calgary of the Royal Canadian Navy, with her Cyclone helicopter orbiting above, begins her sail by of Victoria before deploying to Asia and the Middle East for six months by James MacDonald @jmacdo01.


One of the most engaging stories published by the Capital Daily this year, A lion on the loose: how an unregulated Nanaimo zoo resulted in tragedy, was perfectly encapsulated in this collage by graphic designer Carita Marsili @caritamarsili.

“I was approached by editor Jimmy Thomson to create a graphic to go along with Jolene Rudisuela's feature. He had given me a large selection of different files and images and the task was to show as much as possible while retaining the mystery and chaos of the story. We felt that a collage was the best way to embody all of that.

The location takes place, almost unnoticeable as a texture in the background. Then I layered different elements on top of one another so the story itself is also semi-being told via the images.

These are all real clippings from when the incident happened nearly 70 years ago.” – Carita Marsili

Mathea Olin, one of Canada’s top young surfers, works the waves during a training session in Tofino as she prepares for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifiers. From the story Vancouver Island’s Olympic athletes, in photos by James MacDonald @jmacdo01.


Emily, a land defender, stands behind a barricade at the Fairy Creek blockade near Port Renfrew by Michael John Lo @michaeljohnlo from the story Blockaders at Fairy Creek describe their experiences by Michael John Lo.

An aerial image by Jimmy Thomson @jwsthomson of the Sooke Harbour House hotel for the Capital Daily’s most read story of all time, The man who stole a hotel: how Timothy Durkin took control of Sooke Harbour House, by Tori Marlan.

Another image from Jimmy Thomson @jwsthomson of Big Lonely Doug, the second largest Douglas-fir tree in Canada, looking down the Gordon River valley near the ongoing protests and blockades at Fairy Creek from the story The Fairy Creek blockade, explained from the ground by Harley Gordon.


Rainbow Eyes, a prominent activist and forest defender at Fairy Creek, is chained to a forestry gate at the Caycuse Blockade awaiting arrest by the RCMP. Photo by Emily Vance @emilyadvances from the story What the Caycuse blockade looks like on the ground as RCMP begin arrests by Emily Vance.

“This is a photo of Rainbow Eyes, a prominent activist in the Fairy Creek movement, taken at the Caycuse blockade on May 18th, 2020. That was the day the RCMP first began arresting old-growth logging protesters in TFL 46. Rainbow Eyes was chained to a yellow gate, deep in the tangle of logging roads west of Lake Cowichan, alongside fellow protester Brandon Busby. The two were extracted from their hardblocks and arrested shortly after this photo was taken, marking the third and fourth arrests of the movement. More than a thousand arrests would be made at the blockades in the months that followed.

What you can't see in this photo is the swarm of journalists in front of them, snapping photos and asking questions while RCMP readied their advance in the background. Media had been escorted from spot to spot that day, and I felt the watchful eyes of the RCMP on us, too. Despite the action, the two stood firm. At that moment, I asked Rainbow Eyes how she felt. She smiled. "So pumped up. So happy to stand for the trees." – Emily Vance

Another unique take on a storytelling image using multiple photos and a collaboration with James MacDonald @jmacdo01, Jimmy Thomson @jwsthomson, and Carita Marsili @caritamarsili, to illustrate a variety of Victoria’s housing types from the story How to Make Space by Jimmy Thomson.

A portrait of Andy Charles holding one of his wood carvings by Aaron Guillen @iaaronguillen for the story Andy Charles, the Scia’new First Nation man with nine lives by Aaron Guillen.

"I was scrolling through a group of 5,000 members talking about everything that has to do with Metchosin (which mostly includes farming, farmers markets, and traffic concerns) when I came across a post by a woman promoting her friend who had just started selling his woodcarvings online. At first glance, it didn’t seem like anything too special, but one line caught my eye: ‘You might know him, the kind guy who hitchhikes (with half of his right thumb) from Beecher Bay into town.’

Beneath the post, there were over a dozen comments publicly showing their love for the guy, Andy Charles. My curiosity took over. I immediately reached out to the woman who shared the post to chat about Andy. She shared how she met him while working at a brain rehabilitation centre—and not long after, I was listening to him share his near-death experiences, see his scars, and watch him work on his wood carvings.” – Aaron Guillen

Illustrating locations, especially buildings, can be some of the more difficult visual assignments. This image by Jimmy Thomson @jwsthomson, for the story Supportive housing at Mount Edwards has not destroyed its neighbourhood, four years later by Josh Kozelj, does so exceptionally well.


A young girl places a tiny shoe outside of Mungo Martin House in Thunderbird Park at the Royal BC Museum, at a growing memorial to those lost to Canada’s residential schools, following the announcement of unmarked graves at the site of the Kamloops school. Photo by Colin Smith @colinsmithtakespics, for the story After Kamloops, the search for Vancouver Island graves takes on new intensity. Why did it take so long? By Jolene Rudisuela.

“I was drawn to that moment in particular because of my own personal experiences; I didn't learn about residential schools until I was 30 years old, and it’s horrible that I wasn't taught about that in school. I could really feel this moment and that this child who just learned about something so horrible learned it at a very young age, like I should have.

It’s my hope that this generation and all generations will never repeat this history.

The vibe around the event was like being at a funeral. Everyone was visually shaken, one person broke down crying in screams of torment, an elder quietly sat in her wheelchair wiping tears with a napkin, while people consoled her. There were several Indigenous speakers who spoke about their lived experiences in residential schools, and mention of the stories they'd been told. Later on as the sun set, it turned into more of a celebration of life / candlelit vigil with drummers, singers and dancers.

When an Indigenous led event is happening I prefer to have the consent of the organizers, rather than following ‘Canadian photo laws,’ which basically state that ‘anything happening in a public place is okay to photograph.’ I could just follow those guidelines, but I'd rather be a part of a community rather than someone on the outside looking in. I've become trusted in the community as someone who is safe to document their event because I've been doing it here for a long time.” – Colin Smith

It was just about as unprecedented as you can get, so we are devoting two images by Colin Smith from the oppressive Heat Dome that settled over most of the Pacific Northwest in late June. From the story PHOTOS: Victorians manage the hottest day in the city’s recorded history by Colin Smith @colinsmithtakespics.

One of the many cooling stations set up throughout the city in an attempt to offer some respite from the sweltering temperatures.
A prime beach setup on McNeil Bay, as many Victorians took advantage of our proximity to the ocean and sought relief along the shores.


Ditidaht youth work to paint a mural on a shipping container. Photo by Kaila Pidwerbeski from the story Students and staff from Ditidaht Community School build new recycling centre to spearhead local sustainability by Emily Fagan.


An aerial view of Ganges on Salt Spring Island, and the San Juan Islands to the south, taken during a flyover of Salt Spring Island by James MacDonald @jmacdo01, for the story Salt Spring Island’s duelling crises by Jimmy Thomson.


Local dancer Keisha Jones performs during Orange Shirt Day in Centennial Square to honour the children who died in Canada’s residential school system. Photo by Zoe Ducklow @zoeducklow.

“The Orange Shirt Day gathering in Victoria on Sept. 30 was steeped in extra meaning, as the discovery of graves at residential schools across Canada ripped open the painful stories of survivors, and the many who didn’t survive”. – Zoe Ducklow


This wonderfully quirky portrait by Jimmy Thomson @jwsthomson of CBC radio host Gregor Craigie was used to illustrate the need for earthquake preparedness and education for the story Gregor Craigie wants you to get ready for the Big One by Megan Clark.

“CBC host Gregor Craigie wrote a book about earthquake preparedness, and Megan Clark interviewed him about the book. For the portrait, I wanted someone looking at the picture to immediately recognize the topic, and to show Craigie's personality a bit. Luckily he was completely game for this silly idea.” – Jimmy Thomson

The south coast of the Island drew international attention throughout October as the container ship the Zim Kingston got caught in a fall storm loosing over one hundred containers overboard and then catching fire on the Juan de Fuca Strait. Here Maersk ocean tugs fight the fire in high winds off the shores of Victoria. Photo by James MacDonald @jmacdo01.


Jack Edwards poses for a portrait by Philip McLachlan @phil_mclachlan for his story Canadian Blood Services may loosen rules on gay men. Where does that leave transgender doners?

Kem Luther, a local mushroom expert, examines the spores of a turkey tail mushroom during an assessment of local mushroom numbers. Photo by Zoe Ducklow @zoeducklow for the story Where have all mushrooms gone?

Sometimes it is not a still image but a moving one that can drive home the story. This was the case with the Capital Daily’s exhaustive review and investigation into the misinformation and altered facts the RCMP provided around the pepper spray incident from earlier in the year. From the story INVESTIGATION: RCMP misled public about pepper spray incident at Fairy Creek, by Jimmy Thomson, Ethan Cox, and Brishti Basu.


Maynard Johnny Jr., the artist behind the latest artwork for BC Ferries newest vessel, poses for a portrait by Emily Fagan @thatemfagan for her story Meet Maynard Johnny Jr., the artist behind the BC Ferries’ new Salish Heron.

This jarring photo sets the tone for Michael Bloomfield’s opinion piece OPINION: Comparing vaccine passports to the Holocaust is absurd and dangerous, and does much to illustrate where we are in the ongoing COVID19 pandemic.
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