The hard work now done, a pyramid of straw bales becomes an ideal site for children of the Spring Valley Hutterite Colony to play tag. Tim Smith

Manitoba's fleeting, stunning summer caught on camera

A photographer documents the diversity of rural life in Manitoba

Photographer Tim Smith was driving on an August evening when he saw a fleck of movement across a Manitoba field. Children from the Spring Valley Hutterite Colony were skipping along a pyramid of hay bales, playing tag. After asking permission from the colony’s minister, Smith rushed back to take photographs. It had just rained and a rainbow appeared, splayed perfectly across the background of his shot. “It was stunning, and frankly, the photo doesn’t do it justice. You can never plan for or predict these moments. But if you put yourself in the position for them to happen, sometimes you get lucky,” he says. Smith has spent 16 years capturing moments like these across the Prairies. His mission is to chronicle an underrepresented part of the country and the diversity of rural life, from First Nations communities to the Hutterite colonies.

"Summer in western Manitoba is brief and beautiful, but just long enough to wash away our collective memories of the brutal winter behind us and the impending cold to come. There is an urgency to summer on the prairies. You're obligated to make the most of it and I try to do that photographically. Also I think there is a perception that there isn't a lot going on in our wide open spaces,” says Smith. “I like that I have to put work in to find the beauty and the interesting narratives being played out. They don't necessarily present themselves to everyone, just those willing to look hard enough."

Softball players take advantage of long summer days, enjoying an evening game in front of the Brandon Federated Co-op feed production plant. Tim Smith

The Fireball midway ride at the Manitoba Summer Fair offers fun for thrill-seekers. Tim Smith

The tried-and-true combination of a sprinkler and a trampoline provides cool relief on an almost 30° C day at Sioux Valley Dakota Nation. Tim Smith

Sisters escape the heat by jumping into their grandparents’ above-ground pool while sandbags hold back the water flooding farmlands nearby. Tim Smith

After showing off his skills in the junior steers event at the Minnedosa Double Points Rodeo, a rider stretches out to rest. Tim Smith

A dancer from One Arrow First Nation in Saskatchewan performs at the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation annual powwow in Manitoba that draws competitors from across the continent. Tim Smith

Young men from the Deerboine Hutterite Colony fish at a creek on a perfect summer’s evening. Tim Smith