As a younger Canadian, I knew what to expect when I saw a sign on the road that said ‘Viewpoint’.  Further long the road, I would find a place to pull off and usually some sort of open space where I could stand and find in front of me something to ‘view’.  The viewpoint could be a high place or not, regardless, there was something worth viewing.  Someone in the past had thought it was a worthwhile, even unique, view and claimed it as such.

As the years rolled by and I travelled more into the USofA, I saw signs that read ‘Overlook’.  Further along the road, again I would find a place to pull off and some sort of place where there was something to view, usually by looking down.  Initially, I wondered why there were two different titles for what to me seemed like the same thing.  Then I got it—I live in a different country.

I believe these words are blending together these days and both terms serve the same purpose.  As my wife the linguist has told me before, language isn’t constant—it evolves.

This brings me around to what I want to show to you in this short essay.  Here are some viewpoints I’ve visited over the past few months and one thrown in that is from several years ago.  You’ll see images taken from a designed viewpoints, but some viewpoints I made up myself, climbing to the top of a nearby rise or hill.

South Saskatchewan Plains from the Missouri Coteau

This past summer I went to writers conference in Moose Jaw, the Saskatchewan Festival of Words.  After the conference I drove to Assinaboia in order to visit the Sherniak Gallery.  On the way the landscape changed as I came off the uplands Missouri Coteau and onto lower plains.  This was one of those all too common moments for me whereby I drove on down the hill for a bit whilst being overwhelmed by the view, then realised that I wanted to make a photograph.  I made a U-turn and found a place to create my own viewpoint.  The highway makes a nice entry for the viewer’s eyes into the image and the sky is classic Saskatchewan on a hot summer day.

A Backdrop of the Rockies from the Foothills of Rocky View


I’ve hoped for a morning when the light was right and I was willing to get up early enough to drive to this view that is located close to Cochrane.  Recently all that came together.  I liked that I could see Mt. Yamnuska, Mt. Assinaboia, and Goat Mountain.  All peaks I climbed as a much younger person.

The Old City Area of St. John’s from Signal Hill

On Signal Hill in St. John’s, Newfoundland, interesting and often spectacular views abound.   Some of them are even marked as ‘viewpoints’.  This one was self-made as I was walking along a sidewalk near the top of Signal Hill.  In the view are the St. John’s harbour, Basilica Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, and The Rooms Museum and Gallery (the brown building with peaked roofs, left of the cathedral).  All this is held within the environs of downtown St. John’s.

The Red Deer River Badlands from Orkney Viewpoint


This is a true and published viewpoint, called the ‘Orkney Viewpoint’.  I’ve stopped there many a time, but on this day, several years ago, the many and varied rain storms gave the sky a dramatic look that mirrored the topography of the land below.  I had another one of those ‘right time and right place’ moments to make a photograph.

Why the name ‘Orkney Viewpoint’, I’ve wondered?  The other Orkney Viewpoint is on the island of Orkney, Scotland, located at a henge called the ‘Ring of Brodgar’.  I have no idea if there is any connection.  The only thing I can think of is that the one along the Red Deer River Valley was named by someone from Orkney during early pioneering days in Alberta or maybe someone with a family name of Orkney.