“Canyon is an unincorporated community located near the border of Contra Costa and Alameda counties in California. It is situated between the cities of Oakland and Moraga in the San Francisco Bay Area. The community is named for its location in the upper canyon of San Leandro Creek, along the eastern slope of the Berkeley Hills. Canyon lies at an elevation of 1138 feet (347 m).
“The community is mainly traversed by Pinehurst Road and Canyon Road. The homes of the community are nestled amongst the steep, narrow private roads and footpaths that extend from the redwood groves and ferns along the creek, through the mixed live oak, bay, and madrone forests on the steep hillsides, up to the chaparral and knobcone pines that grow along the ridge.”
I visited Canyon in early May 2016, and here I present some images of this captivating community.
“Canyon, Glimpses #1” and “Canyon, Glimpses #2” are taken from the book Canyon: Glimpses of a Place, assembled and edited by Eric Peterson and Esperanza Pratt Surls, which includes photos by: Eric Peterson, Esperanza Pratt Surls, Roy Gilbert, Louise Pratt, Elena Tyrrell, Eve Livingston, Egl Batchelor, Evan Johnson, Gina Gaiser, Jeanne Lorenz, Forrest Gilbert and Aeriel Guy. This book was produced to raise funds for the Canyon School’s Eighth Grade Class Trip to Costa Rica, in May 2016 (and there’s always following years’ trips to pay for). This 60 page book has 148 photographs (127 in color, 21 in black & white). Copies may still be available ($20, plus shipping and postage) at the Canyon School [P.O. Box 187, Pinehurst Road, Canyon, CA 94516, Phone: (925) 376-4671, Fax: (925) 376-2343]. It’s nice.
Canyon: The Story of the Last Rustic Community in Metropolitan America
John van der Zee
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., New York
Copyright 1971, 1972 by John van der Zee
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 70-174516
John van der Zee’s book about Canyon reminds me that the hopes and ideals I had — 45 years ago — about community, ecology, efficiency, and “right living” in balance with nature, have yet to be recognized, let alone realized, in our America of mindless and wasteful consumption, the economic bullying called gentrification, the sacrifice of human dignity and lives over the obsession to accumulate money, and the denial of responsibility for climate change. Canyon, I’m sure, is objectively far from perfect, but the spirit animating it is undeniably enchanting.