Text, Photo and Video: Leon Humphries
Contributing Photography - Louis Packham
Vancouver and the surrounding British Columbia (BC) landscape has long been a dream destination. My expectations of BC were difficult to surpass. The region boasts large areas of natural wonder I have been aware of for many years. The promise of natural beauty & awe inspiring, grandiose landscapes was enough of an attracting force to visit.
However, in more recent years I recognised the depth of skate history in this region.
Joey &Todd of Mushroom Blading, Leon Basin & Shop Task, Danny Beer and the Brattey brothers have been integral to my knowledge and fascination with BC.
The particular style and approach to skating is exclusive to BC. It seems a lighter hearted, spontaneous, satirical and innovative approach to skating is embodied in the skate material I have seen.
Titles such as 'Tim Hortons', Mushroom Blading Volumes and more recently 'Program' & 'Zone' have encapsulated a mixture of the above mentioned qualities.
Leon Basin updates his InstaGram account regularly with his innovative 'wizard' techniques. He is usually located at an idyllic city spot, skating easily, learning and trying moves out.
The activity of the skaters in and around BC has been consistent. There has been a longstanding interaction with the collective skate community amplified by the use of social media.
The effect that this has had on our scene in London is objectively quantifiable. Numerous sets of Wizard frames were bought by members of our group. The Mushroom blading brand and ethos is well known and spoken of frequently.
This influence, in part, spurned the emergence of 'Rec Squad'.Rec Squad includes 'members' who use bigger wheels to cruise London. Leon Basin's 'wizard' frames have had a huge impact on the perception of skating in London. Not only does the apparatus fascinate and look damn cool. The 'rocker' technology allows for new movements to explore. Leon, Joey and Todd have led the way in evolving this new form of skating. An emphasis on flat land movements expanded the creative process from more conventional moves such as grinds on handrails. An obvious footnote would be the legendary rail run Leon did in his "Big Wheels 2" part.
The influence of the videos and social media updates are undeniable.
On a more personal level, Louis Packham helped this process along hugely. He constantly brought over wizard frames showing off new techniques of his. He allowed others to try the frames and ignited the interest enough for numerous people to purchase them. Louis long had intentions to move to BC, finally realising his plan in the summer of 2018. His partner Ariel is native to Canada, now residing in Vancouver BC. His relationship had developed after a series of journeys in Europe and elsewhere, fortifying his plan to move to Vancouver permanently.
Myself and Louis have made some memorable journeys over the past few years. It was a natural process in planning a new journey with him to Vancouver. In tandem, my parents also planned a journey of theirs to the very same region. I planned to travel with my parents, spending time with them, but partitioning time to skate and wander in the wilderness. Louis would have only just have moved to BC by the time I arrived, around a week or so.
The plot of land his and Ariel's RV was parked was rough and needed some attention. They both planned to reclaim that land and develop it into a garden of sorts. The basis for a new chapter in each of their lives was in place. I was thankful to witness the new beginnings for them.
We planned a journey that was in essence a loop of a region surrounding Vancouver. Louis always spoke excitedly about the natural phenomena and leisure activities in the region. I trusted his and Ariel's intrepid nature to guide this experience. We drove, wandered and gazed into waterfalls.
We witnessed eagles soar and bears plod. We sat, insignificant to the mountains in our midst. We enjoyed each other's company faces glowing from the campfire as the river flowed steadily.
This experience was highlighted by the extraordinary skate parks we visited. It is rare for a skate park to be a secondary to the surrounding environment.
However, BC seems to have some of the most beautiful skate parks in the world. We were able to spend some time at these parks, only to wander off into the wilderness again in a state of blissful awe.