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Patrick.

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Charlotte.

Chris MacArthur: It was a swelteringly hot day along the sun-scorched banks of the Similkameen River. Forest fires burned to the north and

south, creating a grungy orange haze over the entire valley. I sat on a log, stoned off my face, plucking a banjo and watching a pack of stray-looking dogs frolic in the water below. It was here at the ramshackle campsite of Dusty and Dusty (two BFFs, both named Dusty) that I’d posted up for the afternoon to drink warm beer and mingle with a community of transient fruit pickers in Keremeos, B.C.

My Dad escaped to Keremeos 15 years ago to become an amateur farmer and pursue his dream of living a neighbourless life. For as long as I can remember, my visits to the Ol Man’s place have consisted of crucial daily trips to the liquor store and participating in the weekly meat raffle at the Veteran’s Hall. On this particular trip however, during the first week of July, I thought I should break this thrilling routine and actually do something.

Most commonly remembered as “that place we stopped for gas”, Keremeos is renowned for its lush orchards, sprawling vineyards and abundance of fruit stands. Each one painted and decorated more cartoonishly than the next, by what could have been the set designers from Sesame Street. More memorable, however, than its colourful and fruity main drag are “The Pickers”; the dreadlocked, glazed-eyed, thumbs-out seasonal labourers that swarm the town in the summer. Mostly Québécois, these itinerant hippies hitch-hike from far and wide, looking to make some cash and score sweet B.C. bud.

I set out on Tuesday morning, schlepping my camera gear and a case of Cariboo Lager with the goal of making some new friends. By noon it was 33 degrees as haggard and exhausted pickers were making their return to the riverside campground following their 4-11AM shifts in the orchards. The first couple I met introduced themselves as “Lux” and “Bear”. Both from Montreal, they had been making pilgrimages to Keremeos for years, picking fruit and selling art out of their van. Lux (who I kept calling “Jet” by mistake) had just gotten a new tattoo on her back – an intricate pink tree that weaved it’s way through several rings and orbs. She explained that it was designed to help keep her chakras aligned.

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Dusty 1.

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Dusty 2.

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Vern.

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Leo.

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Jaryd and Kiki.

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Guillaume.

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Elaine and Daphne.

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Derek.

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Lux.

All images © Chris MacArthur

via VICE