By Alexandra Wells
Canada Summer Jobs Position
“A picture is worth a thousand words” has never been truer than it was for George Hunter. Except for him, it may have taken a few thousand words just to explain how he captured his final shot!
This October 8th is recognized as Face Your Fears Day in Canada and in celebration, the CHPF would like to share some of George Hunter’s self-proclaimed “close encounters”.
George travelled all around the globe, immersing himself into various communities and capturing photos of places that few others have the opportunity to visit. This not only ensured he captured the photo(s) he wanted but also resulted in some fantastic stories and “close encounters” that George himself kept track of in a list that was left to the CHPF, along with his photography and other records.
They may seem far-fetched but by George’s own records, here are just a few…
In 1979, on his third trip to Afghanistan, he caught the last flight out of Kabul the day the Russians invaded and airports and airlines were closed down.
Was chased out of Algeria by a gun-toting gang after apparently offending a crowd at a church in a small village near the frontier.
Chased by irate whip-wielding cameleer in Iran after having been warned not to photograph a caravan with veiled women on horseback.
Some of his close encounters were recorded without any explanation at all, only adding to their already bizarre nature. For example,
Kidnapped enroute to Copenhagen – Oslo – captor became a life-long friend.
We aren’t entirely sure how George became wrapped up in so many unusual and potentially dangerous situations, but they weren’t limited to his international travels. Some happened on his photography assignments across Canada as well,
Jumped by a moose while photographing CPR train in Banff National Park.
Helicopter in Labrador exploded, breaking pilot’s legs, only minutes after landing and Hunter stepping out of it.
Extremely lucky when his chartered Navajo ran out of fuel. The pilot managed to glide to the first foot of runway at Toronto International Airport.
After Summer aboard Hudson Bay’s supply ship, Nascopie, in Canadian High Arctic, sank on her next voyage.
Stopped on highway at gunpoint by RCMP who thought he was an escaped convict.
Possibly the most frequently shared of George’s close encounters is when he was ejected from the opened door of an aircraft while flying over Edmonton taking aerial shots and the pilot swerved to avoid a bird. As the story goes, George managed to hold onto the wing with one arm and his camera with the other. He made sure that his 20lb aerial camera was safely back in the plane before swinging himself in behind. Apparently, George told people he made sure to wear two seatbelts when flying with the doors opened after that.
George was never one to shy away from putting himself in fearful situations, in fact he often was willing to do whatever it took to get his shot. This could mean climbing the 50-foot ladder attached to the top of his coach bus, balancing on factory ceiling beams, strapping himself into a small plane with the door open, or allowing himself to be raised into the air with only the hook of a crane to keep him from falling. Whatever the situation, George always made sure to leave with a photo.
George Hunter may have had the opportunity to experience more than most but even at home in Canada he never let fear stop him from doing what he loved most – photography. We hope that this Face Your Fears Day, you too are able to find some adventure without letting fear stop you.