Back to the Future

Looking around the city for a gas station to fill up, people are most likely going to stop at a Petro-Canada as it is often the most convenient station in the city. Petro-Canada was created by parliament in 1975 and was named a Crown Corporation, giving them access to new sources of capital and naming them Canada’s national oil company. The company received immense support from the government throughout the late 1900’s so, it is no surprise that Petro-Canada stations began to be placed every few kilometers in towns and cities, ultimately putting smaller independently owned named companies out of business. Back to The Future is a photographic document of small petrol stations that still exist around small towns in the Greater Toronto Area and ultimately call attention to their existence as they are often looked over due to their independence from corporation ownership.

Back to The Future is a project that mixes documentary photography with some history. This project was carried out by conducting some research on where some of these smaller stations are located and upon driving to each station, I came across other small ones that were not marked on my map. The stations photographed were located between the area of Brampton and Hamilton. Using these photographs, viewers are transported back to the past when small-town gas stations were scattered around town and not hard to come by; however, upon closer inspection, they are returned to the present upon witnessing small hints of modern life within the photograph. These hints of modern life are anywhere from a car that would not have been made in the 1900’s or objects like transmission towers in the background.

Small gas stations are full of character even when just looking from the outside. These stations have their own unique personality and are able to tell a story that links to the past. Unlike major corporation stations, small stations that are independently owned have not conformed to the specific appearance of modern stations, instead they carry a one-of-a-kind presence with small quirky elements that would not be seen at other stations. This series of 12 photographs may not have been formed in the 1900’s but these stations still carry a sense of nostalgia and history that is worth looking at.