AGIRA, SICILY, ITALY: This long abandoned building is near Agira, Sicily. It’s now home to a sizeable pigeon population that calls the old building home. The building is not far from the Agira Canadian cemetery which is the only exclusively Canadian cemetery in Italy from the Second World War. Elsewhere in the country, Canadian war dead were often buried with other Commonwealth soldiers. Agira is the final resting place for all 490 Canadians killed during the Sicily campaign.
Operation Husky was the code name for the invasion of Sicily. On July 10, 1943,160,000 British, Canadian, and American troops landed in southern Sicily in advance of future Allied landings on mainland Italy. The terrain in southern and central Sicily is very hilly and was mostly barren in 1943. The German defenders put up great resistance and the Canadians had it tough in their advance toward Agira. Still, today, one can see the locations of the German defences and the route Canadian troops took in their attack on the town.
After the taking of Agira, most of the Canadian troops were merged with the British for the final advance toward Messina on the northern tip of Sicily. Sicily finally fell on August 17th, 1943, just five weeks after the landings. Shot handheld with a Nikon D300, ISO 250, f/20, 1/40 sec. 56mm on Nikon 18-200 lens, photo by John Ecker | pantheon photography
GIRL CHASING PIGEONS, VENICE, ITALY: I was in a laneway, off the beaten path near the Grand Canal, taking photos of laundry lines and pretty windows. This little girl ran on ahead of her papa, scattering a clutch of pigeons that was feeding on the sidewalk. It was one of ‘those moments’ when an unexpected scene appears before a photographer. It occurred to me that this little girl and her father are among the dwindling number of people who actually call Venice their home. The historic old city of Venice has a population of approximately 60.000 (2009) residents– down from about 120,000 in 1980.
Shot with a Nikon D300, photo illustration by John Ecker | pantheon photography
DOUAI MARKET, NORTHERN FRANCE: Douai existed in Roman times, believed to be a fortress known as Duacum. It was a bustling textile centre for hundreds of years. The town was partially destroyed in 1918 during World War I. Traditional community markets are still found throughout northern France. Local fruits, vegetables, flowers, cheese, cured meats and live animals can all be found at these quaint markets. This market in Douai is centrally located. My friend and I wandered the market taking photographs of the many sights and sounds. People were literally lined up to buy live birds, including this one that was quickly stuffed into a box for transport back to someone’s backyard— or kitchen.
Shot handheld with a Nikon D300, Nikkor AF-S 70-300 lens at 127mm, 1/250sec, f32, ISO 2000. Image by John Ecker | pantheon photography