Quonley’s corner then and now

Even those of you who know my work are unlikely to recognize this place. It is on the cover of one of my books.

This is Quonley’s Market at the entrance to Chinatown in Victoria, BC, Canada. I have only lived in Victoria since 2011 but for many years I have been meaning to go back to this corner and capture the image.

Quonley's Market, Chinatown, Victoria BC

Quonley’s Market, Chinatown, Victoria BC

You see, a moody night time photo of Quonley’s Market (by Saskatoon artist Zach Hauser) was the cover image of my poetry collection Falling Together. Set on a grey cover, it created a brooding tone.

cover shot from 1986

cover shot from 1986

 Perhaps that was the way the publishers saw the work, way back in 1986. Looking at the book over the years, I would have preferred a somewhat more upbeat look. But so it is — I can’t say that it hurt sales because, if you know poetry, you know that sales are pretty much non-existent anyway.

Falling Together cover

Falling Together cover

Ironically, the location of the shot – in downtown Victoria, BC – is more meaningful to me now than it was at the time. In 1986 I had probably only visited Victoria two or three times. Now I live here and pass Quonley’s corner frequently.

same angle - 2012

same angle – 2012

Here’s a look at Quonley’s Market today – and my attempt to capture the book cover shot’s angle, in spring sunlight. It’s a crazy thought but what if that had been the cover image? No – wouldn’t have worked.

And below is another view, taken through the cherry blossoms from across the street.
Chinatown through the blossoms

Chinatown through the blossoms

The meaning of a place is always changing.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Not only does the meaning of a place change, but your post reminds me of the importance of perspective and how it can so dramatically change meaning/perception.

    Very interesting photos. I agree the b/w photo was very “brooding.”

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Natalia – I think all these examples underscore how connected we are, emotionally, with the places of our lives. And as you point out, it hits us on occasion when we see how time has moved on. Sometimes those changes are more visible in the place itself. By the way, references to Austin make me smile – fond memories of ‘the fastest haircut in town’ at a shop on Guadalupe and warm winter runs in Zilker Park.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful post, and so well-illustrated by the pictures. It reminds me of something I heard last night at a storytelling event in Austin. One of the speakers talked about how she’s from Buffalo but she hardly ever goes back, and she thinks the last trip she went, for a funeral, is probably the last time she’ll ever go. She said that sometimes it’s not just because you’ve changed; it’s that a place has moved on without you. I thought it was true but also a little sad, but hear is a similar message in your post, with the more uplifting side of that truth!

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