Artist using portraits in cross-country project

Photographer building mosaic of 40,000-plus portraits taken from all across Canada.

Tim Van Horn stands beside his motorhome that is covered in portraits of Canadians from across the country. Van Horn recently passed through Cranbrook and the East Kootenays as he continues work on his portrait mosaic project for Canada's 150 anniversary.

Tim Van Horn stands beside his motorhome that is covered in portraits of Canadians from across the country. Van Horn recently passed through Cranbrook and the East Kootenays as he continues work on his portrait mosaic project for Canada's 150 anniversary.

If you noticed a motorhome covered in portraits in Cranbrook on Tuesday, it’s because the driver, a photographer, was out and about looking for local subjects for an ambitious project.

Tim Van Horn, a native of Red Deer, is six years into what was originally a one-year project of creating a mosaic of portraits of Canadians across the country.

He’s photographed people coast to coast to coast and everywhere in between as he builds this mosaic, which he plans to unveil in time for Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017.

“We need something to celebrate that birthday,” Van Horn said. “It’s a perfect opportunity to bring us all together, to have a moment and pause and look and reflect upon who we are, what our values are, what do we need to change in our lives to make the country a better place.

“This mosaic will act as this catalyst, this beautiful portrait of who we are to bring us together to reflect upon what’s important.”

Van Horn—yes, a distant relative of the same William Van Horne, despite the difference in spelling—was inspired by his childhood experiences of growing up in the military and being constantly on the move. Growing up, he’d see photos in National Geographic and he wanted to be a cameraman and go on exotic adventures.

“I’ve taken my sense of duty and married it to my artistic and my humanitarian streak and feel like I need to do something good in my country, to bring something back to the people and say, ‘Here, this is what I’ve contributed and this is what we are’,” Van Horn said.

“This is my creative tour of duty.”

Van Horn spent last week in Cranbrook photographing subjects on Baker St. before heading up to Kimberley, Invermere and Golden. He’ll spend the next three months in B.C. before heading up to the Yukon and down into the prairies before ending up in Ontario for the fall federal election.

When he gets to a new community, sometime it’s as simple as going to a busy intersection to ask passersby if he can take their portrait.

“With each person I photograph, it instills the need to do this and it gets stronger and stronger and I see all these characters and cast of characters coming together and completing this story,” Van Horn said.

To date, he’s photographed 40,000 Canadians.

His vision is to tour the country once again in 2017 with a bus that will encompass his entire project.

“In 2017, I will set out across the land with a bus that’s completely high-tech and multi-media and it will go across the country for a whole year and stop at your kid’s school, you’ll see it on main street and it will emit this beautiful story about who we are,” Van Horn said.

For more information, visit his website at:


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