checkerboard floors, jukeboxes and ceiling fans

Ceiling Fan, Sodas Diner, Vancouver 2007

© Leslie Hossack

Sodas Diner closed not long after I took this photograph. A well-known 50s style diner, Sodas was located in the Dunbar area of Vancouver for years. It served typical American diner food, including milkshakes, burgers and fries.

A number of nostalgic elements are commonly found in American style diners: checkerboard floors, individual booths, tabletop jukeboxes, milkshake makers, beveled mirrors, and ceiling fans like the one shown above. When I first set out to photograph diners, I needed to identify my own defining characteristic. So for me, a restaurant is a diner only if it has a counter with chrome stools, and Sodas had a number of beautiful stools at the long counter.

In 2007, I photographed more than 30 diners, both vintage and contemporary. These include classics such as The Templeton in Vancouver, and lost icons such as The Canary in Toronto and Bens in Montreal. This is a study of retro diners from Atlantic Canada to the Pacific Coast.

Public spaces and familiar items from previous generations fascinate me. I love the way the camera allows me to attribute elevated status to everyday objects and places, to portray the inclusive as exclusive – even diners.