Naomi Harris was sitting in a Swiss Chalet in Thunder Bay when a spritely senior turned around to talk to her.
Did she like to swim? Bill Ikola asked. She did, yes.
Did she wear running shoes when she swam? No, no she didn't.
Ikola suggested she should, because she might step on a needle and get AIDS.
She knew right away she had to take his photo. "I said, 'what are you doing tomorrow? Let's go swimming.'"
Her encounter with Ikola was one of hundreds during her nearly four-month trip across Canada in 2011.
The Toronto-born photographer, who spent many years living in New York, told The Huffington Post Canada she didn't explore enough of our great land growing up, so she decided to drive across the country to capture a bit of it.
"I'm always really proud of [saying] 'I'm a Canadian', but never seeing the country, I thought it was about time to do so, and that was the premise for the road trip." It was fate that united Harris with her subjects.
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"Sometimes I seek people out, sometimes they sort of seek me out, it goes both ways."
Somehow Harris found a cast of colourful subjects for her latest series of portraits titled "Oh Canada." The photos capture a "piece of Canada," she says.
She says she didn't plan out her route, aside from roughly following the Trans-Canada Highway.
"I don't plan too far in advance," she says.
Harris' trip took her from Victoria, B.C. to Newfoundland. She mostly slept in her car but also took advantage of offers to stay with people she met and photographed.
Of all the places she went, Harris said Saskatchewan was the most overlooked.
"[It] always gets the bum rap," she says. "But it was the combination of the people, the landscape and the remoteness."
She says the goal with her photos is to show people how diverse our country is and to encourage them to stay here for travel, "rather than going across the ocean and spending all this money on airfare and going to other countries."
"There are so many amazing untapped areas in Canada."