2001–2007 · Silver Ghost

It is the poetry of fishes that is their chief use; their flesh is their lowest use. The beauty of the fish, that is what is best worth the while to measure.

Henry David Thoreau, Journal, November 30, 1858

Silver Ghost

The Salmon Rivers of Eastern Canada

Photographs by Thaddeus Holownia
& Essay by Harry Thurston

Salmon rivers are non-conformists. They may be like my home river, the Philip, a mere mountain stream insinuating itself through the eroded Cobequids before opening into rich bottom land and the salt-tongued estuary. Or they may be mighty coils of water, like the Restigouche, broad and bold, oxbowing inexorably through the Appalachian ranges of Quebec and New Brunswick on its way to the welcoming sea; or like the Pinware, exploding through whitewater gorges in the Laurentian shield of Labrador. They may be red with marine mud as the tidal pools of the Inner Bay of Fundy are, or clear as gin, like the limestone rivers of the Gaspe peninsula. What connects them is Salmo salar, pushing upstream–leaping–sensing its destiny in a single molecule of water, the way humans are compelled by a deeply embedded memory to return to their home place.

Harry Thurston

Silver Ghost is a collaborative homage to the Atlantic salmon and its rivers. Holownia and Thurston have over the past several years explored, through the complimentary media of photography and literary prose, the intersection of the cultural and natural history of Salmo salar — a task these two Maritime artists are uniquely qualified to undertake.

The title evokes both the physical and spiritual nature of this most magnificent of game fish and its native rivers. It also refers to the medium of black and white photography used here to fix the fleeting images of this elusive species and its mercurial habitat. Finally, the title alludes to the looming fate of the Atlantic salmon if the current anthropogenic forces of extinction are not reversed.

Thaddeus Holownia has travelled to the major salmon rivers of eastern Canada, in all seasons, to capture their essential qualities. Employing his signature, large-format 7 × 17″ view camera, his images memorialize and celebrate the riparian habitat of the Atlantic salmon: its geology, forests, pools and runs, as well as its cultural artifacts. Among the rivers being featured are the Pinware in Labrador, Humber in Newfoundland, the Margaree in Cape Breton, the Miramichi, Upsalquich and Restigouche in New Brunswick, the Grand Cascapedia in Gaspe, and the Penobscot in Maine.

Thurston’s extended essay will examine the elements of salmon rivers — of air, earth, and water — that combine to create the ecological conditions necessary for the nurturing of Atlantic.