I have an insatiable curiosity. I always have and I imagine I always will. Combine that curiosity with reckless fearlessness and I tend to get caught exploring in places that I shouldn’t - back corners, basements, service tunnels, places that really aren’t safe. Getting caught has encouraged me to increase my sneakiness but, when someone says that I can actually do it and not get in trouble, I’m that much more interested.

Wearing my explorer cap, I took off to downtown Kitchener to visit the Walper Terrace Hotel. After exploring its courtyards, I’m that much more enchanted and understand where the terrace comes from. As a whole, the Walper has no rough history, it has no horror stories, no tales of fire or murder and yet, being a heritage building still gives it a certain level of haunting.

I’m a sucker for victorian architecture and this site certainly doesn’t disappoint. Opening as is in 1893, and adding the crystal ballroom in 1925, the hotel is a great spot to step back in time. Not only is the architecture dazzling, the amenities far extend what you would expect. From a barber shop offering hot towel straight razor shaves, to a coffee shop, comedy club, and tobacco shop. If it weren’t for the splendour of downtown Kitchener visitors really would have no occasion to leave. 

Owned by Michael von Teichman, the Walper is not just a place to rest your head, host your wedding, or enjoy high tea - it’s also a walking art gallery. The hotel has had partnerships with various art installations including current residents, CAFKA and Caviar20.

While it doesn’t necessarily fit with the 2013 DO theme of ‘modern architecture’, the Walper does do a wonderful job combining modern comforts with historical features. In 2011, the hotel under went a major renovation including the overhaul of 60 rooms. In 2012, function rooms underwent their update. By the end of 2013, sections of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th floors will be completely redone thanks to a sprinkler pipe burst.

September 21st will no doubt have many excellent places to visit in Waterloo Region but, if you’re looking for something accessible, historical, and appealing to the eye, be sure to run down to King & Queen and take a look though. It’s well worth your time.

This is just a taste of what you’ll see should you visit. Good number more photos from my visit on flickr.

The alliance of photography and environmentalism is rich and contradictory. Photographers have sought not only to document the landscape but also to provoke awareness of the profound and often harmful consequences of human action upon the earth. And yet the photographer-environmentalist inevitably struggles with the constraints of the medium — with the challenges of capturing temporal processes (like change and decay) and atmospheric outcomes (like pollution), with the de-contextualizing and abstracting effects of the photographic frame, and with the temptations of aestheticization, the tensions between artistic ambition and political meaning.