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Photo Essays

We Asked for Your ‘Objects of Affection.’ We Love What You Shared

In this batch of 10 trusty belongings one’s a hoot, another is big on a peel. First in a series.

Dorothy Woodend 19 Jul 2021 |

Dorothy Woodend is culture editor of The Tyee. Reach her here.

Ask and ye shall receive. A few weeks ago, The Tyee asked readers to send us words, images and musings on their most beloved object, inspired by J.B. MacKinnon’s new book The Day the World Stops Shopping. MacKinnon kicked things off in high style with his extremely well used fleece jacket.

The idea was to posit a radical reassessment of our relationship to things, to buy fewer of them, repair them more often and lighten the overall footprint of consumption. But it turns out plenty of folk were already well on their way, caring for items, both practical and whimsical, with gentleness, affection and care.

A bounty of submissions arrived — coats, frying pans, earrings, key chains — each with a story attached. Whether it’s a very old teddy bear or an upright piano, the stuff that we treasure often says more about us than we realize.

For the next few weeks, The Tyee wanted to share these stories, along with the photographs and illustrations of the cherished objects that accompanied them. These are some remarkable relationships. Without further ado, here’s the first instalment of Objects of Affection.

A pal named Snowy


I’m Breeana, this is “Snowy,” my beloved stuffed animal. I got him in the third grade as a gift from St. Nick’s Day (my siblings and I would leave out our boots and St. Nick would come and put a small present in them).

Of all the toys that I’ve had Snowy has stayed with me somehow. My family moved houses a lot when I was younger, and I have five younger siblings, so keeping toys was impossible. But through it all I’ve always had him.

When I taught in Korea for three years, he came with me and when I taught a year in Japan, he came with me. When I was scared about driving in Japan (I had to have a car to get to my remote schools) Snowy was there chilling in the front window. He’s not as white as he once was, his black fur is now more of a grey (kind of like my hair now) and his cute little bandana used to be a vivid Christmas red and green but not so much now. I hope that wherever I travel next, I’ll have him with me. — Breeana Kiter

An unvanquished sweater

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Over 50 years, this green sweater has outlasted two marriages, a gazillion camping and kayaking trips, and untold forays into the garden and woods of B.C. and the Yukon. It's 100-per-cent wool, so it's my best layer for warmth in rain and ice. It has been darned multiple times, but it never criticizes the repairs that I make; even when the humans in my life suggest a replacement, I maintain a firm “no.”

This sweater is mostly a paint coverup now, getting grey like its owner but still worn with love most weeks. I'm forever grateful I resisted all requests over the decades to let it go! — Arlene in Langley, B.C.

No cold shoulder for old suits

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Illustration for The Tyee by Dorothy Woodend.

My family was displaced in the Second World War from east of Germany, losing everything. I was half a year old and grew up in poverty which I did not recognize as such because my parents did everything to make it seem normal.

Most of my clothes were handed down or homemade. My first earned money I invested in a lovely suit. My closet is full of garments, some more than 30-years-old. They don’t fit or aren’t fashionable anymore but getting rid of some is just not in my DNA.

If I ever overcome my reluctance to downsize, I'll miss that piece of clothing for sure at one point. I know, it’s crazy, but what can I do. It’s stronger than me. — Karin Hertel

The Irish ‘classic’

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My object of affection is a 25-year-old Irish tweed jacket. Its classic style is still suitable for a walk in the park, the opera or to travel the world. I have recently renewed it with suede at the cuffs and elbows. People stop me all the time and say how much they like my jacket and I say, "You too can own this jacket for only $350 and it will last for decades."

It's no surprise that purchases are the highest score in my global footprint. I hate shopping and only buy when something can't be fixed. — Mayta Rin

A sharp accomplice

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One of my first kitchen utensils, a peeler. I bought it at the corner store beside my first apartment in 1985. It takes off a micro thin layer of peel, so there’s very little waste, the ultimate carrot peeler for that reason. I have never sharpened it and it has never gone dull, yet I use it all the time. It makes me smile whenever I use it. — Bob Preston

A hot relationship with cookware

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Illustration for The Tyee by Dorothy Woodend.

My prized possessions are my cast iron cookware. Some pieces are 40+ years old and still are the best for cooking. They come with me camping and back home to my kitchen. Would not be without them. — Lucy Friesen

Had to have them (and hold them)

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On the shelf of my favourite shoe store were bright red, slip-on canvas, suede and smooth leather snub-nosed shoes with cut-out holes, elastic lacing and rubber soles. Magic shone out of the holes. They were what Pete the Cat — a thread-thin, navy-blue, impudent, guitar-playing cartoon character — wore. I slipped them on. I had to have them, the Pete the Cat shoes. After eight years, I don’t say, "sneakers," "running shoes," or "tennis shoes," I say, “I’m wearing my Pete the Cat shoes.” In them, I walk thread-thin, navy-blue, impudent through the world. — Karen Lee

A fleece friend

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My O of A is my ancient black (still fairly black) MEC Polartec fleece pullover. I bought it sometime in 1994 to keep me warm while doing winter Dragonboat training. Except for the neck tag, which is frayed and can no longer be read, the garment refuses to wear out and has steadfastly kept me warm during water sports, cycling, hiking, walking and socializing around a fire pit for the last 27 years. We’ve grown old together! — Deb Rooney

A library card that buys the universe

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Illustration by Dorothy Woodend.

I recently downsized and with great pain winnowed my books from 1,000 down to 100. As a lifelong bibliophile, and I immediately thought I would pick a book. Too difficult by far to choose just one. Instead, I choose my FVRL [Fraser Valley Regional Library] card.

An innocuous and humble piece of 3.5-inch by 2-inch white plastic with the FVRL logo and a bar code on the back that bestows upon me the privilege to borrow as many books as I like without the impossible task of continued storage. Two additional positives are it saves me money and reduces my environmental footprint. — Ken Grieve

A literal birthday present


This is Teddy. He was given to me on the day of my birth by the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception from St. Vincent's Hospital (the old one that used to be on W. 33rd Ave in Vancouver.). Apart from my excursions overseas, he has been constant company. Every bodily fluid imaginable has been spilled on him. Countless washes and buttons for eyes, several near tragedies with dogs, and a few losses/left behinds. But for 65 years (next month) he has been my ever-faithful companion. — Stuart Mackinnon

Well, that’s the first batch. Stay tuned for next week's instalment of Objects of Affection, including special guest appearances from the one and only Mr. Bill and The Tyee's Chris Cheung.  [Tyee]

Read more: Photo Essays

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