The road to Avonlea!
I spent a few busy weeks planning out this beautiful styled maternity session for Chelsie and her family, I'd even arranged for us to go shoot in an amazing location that I have been dying to see, the Avonlea Badlands. This spot looks very special and unique in the pictures I have seen of it, and after shooting a few times this year down in the Big Muddy Badlands I am simply thirsty for more of these otherworldly scenes! The Avonlea Badlands are said to be a truly remarkable and unique environment, full of hoodoos and other neat features, and it certainly sounds like a dreamy place for a photoshoot! So I booked us in. The tour times were not ideal, the sunset tours were scheduled to leave Avonlea at 6:30 pm, which was only going to give us about 25 minutes of light after driving to the site. I can work with that I figured, but to maximize our session time I dug a little deeper into the area to find us a second spot to start out our shoot and discovered the Claybank Brick Plant National Historic site. It looked like a really neat location to shoot too so we adjusted our plan and decided to meet up at the brick plant site 2 hours before our badlands tour. My wonderful step daughter and assistant Nova was excited to accompany me for the adventure, and so we packed up throughout the morning and headed out around lunch. After what seemed like YEARS of driving through back to back construction zones, we finally arrived at Claybank and quickly met up with Chelsie and her troop.
After checking in with the wonderful staff members at the little cafe, we paid our fee and set off on our adventure. You start off having a look at the former industrial complex that was used for the manufacture of clay bricks from 1914 to 1989. The core of this 132 hectare site is a 37 hectare plant area containing buildings dating from the 1912-1937 period: a factory building, 10 kilns, a laboratory, an office building, and various other sheds, shops, and residences. A national historic site, the Claybank Brick Plant is one of the best preserved examples of 19th century industrial activity in Canada. As a matter of fact, Claybank bricks grace the facades of many of the province's prestigious buildings, and have been used in many well known buildings across the country such as the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City. Due to covid-19 we were sadly unable to really get in there and view much of the complex, but they did have various informative signs one could read if you had an interest in the history. After reading up on some interesting facts, and peeking through the fence here and there we set out on the path towards the claybanks and canyons.
Slide to see more pictures of the scenery ⬇
The paths and walking trails were breathtaking. We made our way around the first few claybanks and ravines, stopping here and there to take some pictures, and followed a lovely winding trail for a few kms until it slowly began to disappear into the grass. Chelsie and Brad and their two kiddos Karter and Kayde were an absolute delight to explore with. Karter seemed to really have a blast, he loved climbing and jumping around on all the very cool clay formations. Chelsie and Brad were so much fun to work with, not only are they both gorgeous, but neither of them complained one single time about the FREEZING temperatures (okay maybe not freezing but we had lows of only 2 degrees that day!) or the 90 minute hike, and Chelsie managed it all 25 weeks pregnant and in heels. I could barely spend a day sitting in the office comfortably in heels haha so kudos to you girl! After our hike we stopped back in at the Bunkhouse Cafe and Gift Shop to warm up and grab a snack before heading off to the Avonlea badlands. If you make the trip out here, don't overlook this little gem of a cafe. They have a very interesting little museum type area before you come into a delightful little home style cafe. The homemade fresh off the BBQ burgers and hot dogs, fruit pies, cinnamon buns, poutine and coffee were all fantastic! I'm sure everything else on the menu that we did not try is equally delicious too! After our tasty little home cooked meal we loaded back up into our vehicles and set off to Avonlea to meet up with our tour guide.
The drive to the Avonlea Heritage Museum from Claybank is very short, and we arrived with a little more than 15 minutes to spare. We were nice and cozy warming up in our vehicles, and it was rapidly getting colder outside so we elected not to hop out and look around the museum. It was closed at this time anyways so I'm sure we didn't miss out on seeing too much. Now as I mentioned before, due to the quickly setting sun we would only have about 20-30 minutes to shoot once we arrived at the badlands so time was of the essence. I began to watch the clock, our guide was late! If there had been more time before the sun went down perhaps we could have waited longer, but I quickly began to worry because if we waited much longer not only would it be dark by the time we even arrived at the badlands, but we would be out of time to find anywhere else to get some pictures with my gorgeous designer gown and bouquet that I had ready for Chelsie to model. So we waited for about 15 minutes after we should have departed for the badlands, and I made the decision to just drive back towards Claybank so that we could find a pretty field or hill overlooking the heritage site to take some photos in the setting sun. I tried my best to mask my disappointment but I'm sure it was written all over my face. Sometimes we just have to make the best of the hand we are dealt!
Just after the turn off back to the Brick Plant we found a picturesque little hilltop overlooking the Dirt Hills where the Claybank Historic site is nestled. We parked our vehicles, and got right to it, there was no time to waste! I easily guided and prompted Chelsie and Brad while they strolled through the golden grass in the glowing light of the setting sun, these two were naturals in front of the camera. The love they shared for each other certainly showed, and without question made for some stunning images that I hope they will cherish for many years to come. Things may not have gone according to plan for this session, but that certainly did not stop us from making some magic happen.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this adorable little family very much, and I can't thank them enough for having faith in my vision, and travelling all the way out to Claybank and Avonlea to create this magic with me.
Photos taken by me of course: @photography_by_sherry_lynn
Dress by: Pink Blush Maternity @pinkblushmaternity
Hat by: Gigi Pip @gigipip and purchased at: Root Hair Lounge @roothairlounge
Bouquet designed and provided by: Brady's House of Flowers in Weyburn Sk. @bradysflowers