Vanity Fair Mentions Burlington / Kilbride

vanity indeed

Browsing through the meme-linked sites a few days ago, I came across this article on Vanity Fair. In that entertaining read, the author details his many failed attempts, and then ultimate success, trying to track down the location of the Windows XP “Autumn” background picture. Remarkably the photographer didn’t even realize that he was the source of a photo seen by hundreds of millions.

The Vanity Fair author was mesmerized by the tranquility and beauty of the picture, and became convinced that he had to find the location, and possibly even visit it. When we see only a small part of a scene, we fill in the surroundings, and he envisioned an idyllic countryside.

Eventually he gets a strange email from a Microsoft source that, while factually a bit incorrect, remarkably leads him to a historian in Burlington with an amazing memory of the area.

The article was a bit surprizing to me as this is my stomping grounds: I live in Northern Burlington — a part of the Greater Toronto Area — and every spring, summer and fall, many weekends see us taking drives through
the various roads in North Burlington. It isn’t really good for the environment and the conservation of oil, but it’s remarkably effective getting young children to sleep. 

The particular road where the picture was taken is one that we’ve been down countless times (the summer past we
happened upon a Ferrari get-together very close to this location, with several dozen very high-end Ferraris sharing the road with us).

I’ve taken many fall pictures in the area, as the colours are often spectacular.


Anyways, we were off to go tobogganing today, so I just had to drive past the source of a
previously-anonymous picture that so many had seen. As “proof”, I took the picture above, trying to emulate the zoom and orientation of the XP picture. The old fence is gone, as is the large tree on the left, but otherwise it’s the same.

And to satiate the author’s quest for information, let me say that Northern Burlington/Halton is stunningly gorgeous. With multi-million dollar homes intermixed with smaller existing housing (which will eventually get replaced by mansions I’m sure), bordered by the Bruce Trail and the Niagara Escarpment, it’s an area of low-intensity, almost-hobbyist type farming, often with nature completely untouched. There are large areas of incredibly dense hardwood trees.

Some areas just a bit further out make you feel like you’re in the centre of Northern Ontario, with homes shrouded in vegetation, the tree canopy making it fairly dark on the brightest summer day. All just a short commute from downtown Toronto.