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Damaged

Norm Coridor hasn’t let major back problems which have confined him to a wheelchair keep him from pursuing his passion for photography. An exhibition of his photos documenting the devastation to Stanley Park in last winter’s windstorms is on display at the Cameron Library in Burnaby. -
Norm Coridor hasn’t let major back problems which have confined him to a wheelchair keep him from pursuing his passion for photography. An exhibition of his photos documenting the devastation to Stanley Park in last winter’s windstorms is on display at the Cameron Library in Burnaby.
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The trees in Stanley Park have been ravaged, beaten, and uprooted. But for photographer Norm Coridor, the violence has brought a hidden peace.

His pictures of cracked branches and roots unnaturally reaching for the sky, and capturing a view so often looked over, provides unique images that only Coridor—with his history—could reveal. The New Westminster resident learned to swim in the cold waters near Stanley Park when he was a boy. Growing up on Kingsway in Vancouver, he says going to Stanley Park was “the thing to do.”

So after the storm of December 2006 that devastated vast swaths of Vancouver’s green gem, Coridor, 65, packed up his camera to see the devastation for himself.

Unlike most people, it wasn’t as simple as just heading out.

Working for nearly 20 years as a truck driver had left his back a mess. Hours spent in poorly-padded seats and the unforgiving jarring of the vehicle took a toll on his back, eventually requiring surgery. Today, a 14-inch scar reminds him of the 10 bolts and two rods fused in his back after the 17-hour operation.

What’s more, Coridor also has Parkinson’s disease, and recently he was falling almost three times a day. Four months ago, he and his partner, Kathy Ford, decided it was time for a wheelchair.

Despite his challenges, photography has acted as a sort of balm in his life. And revisiting Stanley Park, in its broken state, was like seeing a weathered friend. It had been a while since the two last met, and much had changed since Coridor used to swim in the nearby waters.

The challenge of being a disabled photographer is obvious, especially when taking nature shots among the roots, foliage and stumps. As a result, Coridor’s pictures of Stanley Park had to be taken from the road. He says that he can’t shoot from low angles as he once could, so he relies a lot on his tripod.

The result is a collection of photos that convey a sense of serenity, and provide a view of the park most people miss.

The forest is illuminated with a maze of vivid greens and earthy browns. In one photo, a branch that had been broken by gale winds is splayed like a fan, a graphic representation of the damage wrought.

The serenity in Coridor’s Stanley Park photos is part of a theme found in all his work. Hanging in his New Westminster home are floral photographs he’s taken over the years in his partner Ford’s garden.

“I made him a garden so he could take pictures” she says.

After Coridor’s diagnosis with Parkinson’s, Ford quit her job at the local Yamaha dealership to support him with his health and his photography.

She says the photography has not only been therapeutic for Coridor, but for herself as well. It’s way to forget the daily grind of living with a disease that has changed their lives drastically, she adds. When spring comes and the sun returns, Coridor hopes to explore their new neighbourhood. Ford loves New Westminster’s lovely gardens, but for her partner, little can compare to Stanley Park.

The storm may have destroyed many trees but with time, the seeds being planted now will grow into the green cathedral Coridor remembers from a lifetime ago.

n See Coridor’s images at Cameron Public Library, 9523 Cameron St., Burnaby. Info: 604-421-5454

MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER

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