When geologist Edwin MacDonald was a young boy boating in the Northumberland Strait with his Dad and brother he often wondered what was really underneath the bottom of their boat. An unfortunate encounter with a reef and propeller could quickly abbreviate an already short boating season. The basic knowledge that he needed to navigate safely swelled into a growing interest in the mysterious landscape submerged beneath the waters of our shores.

Edwin’s connection to a place, his career trajectory and relating hobbies were plotted like the co-ordinates on a map. Interests in cartography, geology, nautical maps, bathymetry, and mechanical technology overlapped like the layers of the bathymetric charts he creates in his workshop in New Glasgow to represent some of our favourite valleys and plateaus in the waters off our coastline.

While he doesn’t consider his charts an art, his work is sought out by many boating enthusiast’s homes or with people who have a connection to specific bodies of water. Bathymetric charts show the land if the overlaying water was removed in the same way that topographic maps shows elevation and adds another dimension to the way we can view our world.

Using a laser cutter, Edwin is able to incorporate precision detail to the landscape and can work within 0.1 of an inch to capture near real time representations of our ever-changing shoreline. He etches major byways into the top layer to give the viewer a great perception of the region isolated for the chart. The coloured layers of baltic birch or popal in varying shades of blue discern the water from the land and each piece is in a custom oak frame. Several of his commissioned pieces also incorporate LED lighting between the layers that illuminate and enhance the experience of looking deep into the water.

Edwin’s charts are a reminder of a beautiful and most often overlooked world that is hidden from us beneath the waters that we associate with home.   

VIAPhoto by Steve Smith/VisionFire Studios
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Crystal Murray
Crystal likes to think about her forays in journalism like interval training. " I have had a wonderful freedom to be home when I needed to be and work when the spirit moved me. In the spaces between I have learned things about myself, my family and my community that I hope will find a rightful place in the new and refreshed pages of At Home on the North Shore. "