Moving to Toronto in 2020 may have been the riskiest, rewarding and hectic phase of my life to date. With COVID-19 at its peak then, the city didn’t feel like itself. But through that slow pace, I was able to get a feel and footing on the city.

With so many lives passing by you within the minute, it’s the perfect place to “do something”.

But what about outside the city? I was feeling adventurous one weekend and frankly, the noise was getting to me, so I filled my gas tank and drove away.

And what did I see? Nothing.

Just trees and the occasional gas station which I am so adamant, believe it or not, to ignore.

Solution? Instead of driving straight through the main high-way, I took the path less travelled by.

And what did I see? Mostly nothing.

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But here and there, quaint towns, fields and overhanging trees on the road. It was temporary peace. I do love the honesty and simplicity of these small towns but urbanization casts a long shadow.

The locals were particularly friendly which surprised me. The city has an always-on-the-go attitude. The small towns were the opposite. As a city dweller, it was easy to spot that I was not from around town. Somehow, lugging a huge medium format camera made it easier.

People were curious what type of dinosaur I was carrying or if it was a weapon. It’s usually followed by a chuckle, I tell them I’m a photographer just exploring the town, and from there, they mostly ask the questions. The camera was an excuse for a conversation, sort of a wingman. I took photos of locals, cars and scenery. It was particularly hard curating which five to show, but I feel that these encapsulate the experience the most.

Driving around without the internet and spontaneously turning to minor roads were both scary and rewarding. It forces you to be present and to observe.

Despite how novel everything was, the sensation felt familiar, even nostalgic. It’s the same feeling when you watch an old favourite movie you haven’t seen in years, hear a song from a decade ago, or move to a new city. All the uncertainty, novelty and spontaneity are bundled up into, what I could only describe as, a sense of adventure.

~ Wesley

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About the author

Avatar - Wesley Hilario

Wesley Hilario

Wesley Hilario is a full-time creative director/producer based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Wesley has a very diverse background, and his goal is to create an inclusive, creative, and rewarding environment in which people can bridge the gaps between their...

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  1. Looks like you are getting to know your new surroundings! Old cameras are great conversation starters, if you want a great social life on the street go out with a TLR in your hand! Great pictures!