PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Bears roaming through the Aroostook wilderness, pairs of moose dueling for dominance, eagles soaring through the air and the Northern Lights dancing in the night sky — Paul Cyr of Presque Isle has captured all of these through his photography, which has been published around the world.
While Cyr isn’t a full-time photographer, he has accumulated tens of thousands of photographs, and sells to 30-40 vendors. Cyr’s pictures were featured in two books by Down East Books: “Bears behaving Badly” (2016) and “Uses for Mooses” (2018). His work has been used by numerous news organizations from around the world, including Barcraft Media in London and the Bangor Daily News among others. Cyr has also published two volumes of photographs titled “Northern Maine with Paul Cyr” in 2018 and 2021.
Cyr, who was born in 1952, grew up on a potato farm in Hamlin as the oldest of six siblings. He began taking pictures when he was around 10 years old in the 1960s with a Kodak Instamatic camera. He did farm aerials throughout high school, especially in August when the oats were yellow and the grass around them green, selling them from Fort Fairfield to Fort Kent.
“I always enjoyed the farm work,” Cyr said. “When I do photography, especially the aerial stuff, I take a lot of pictures of farms. I grew up on it, I understand most of it and I am in awe of how the technology has progressed.”
Cyr moved to Presque Isle in 1976, after his father bought the Presque Isle Rehab and Nursing home. As the oldest child, Cyr worked very closely with his father, doing the books for the nursing home, and even got his administrative license.
Cyr then helped run the nursing home for 15 years until he got into the development of rental properties. Cyr’s sister took over his position at the nursing home so that he could dedicate more time to his new venture.
During his days as a property manager, Cyr also found an interest in tinkering with snowmobiles and eventually patented Hiperfax, which enhanced the machines’ performance. Hiperfax was the incorporation of a piece of teflon into the sliders of the snowmobile, which reduced friction, making the vehicle faster in difficult conditions.
Clockwise from left: A mother moose begins cleaning her newborn calf; sled dogs taking off in a sprint; and two eagles on the same branch resting below a super moon. Credit: Courtesy of Paul Cyr
It was only about 15 years ago that Cyr was able to reignite his hobby of photography, and dedicate more time to it. Using income from his previous businesses, Cyr built his property improvements to cater to his craft.
He has a bear blind, where he consistently feeds the animals in order to photograph them, as well as a makeshift runway in order to launch a powered parachute. He also has a 100-foot hill — Cyr Mountain, as he calls it — on the property that he uses for photography.
Cyr said he was inspired by his father’s work ethic and business sense that were instilled in him in childhood. Cyr described his father as a pusher, and very business-oriented. Cyr worked the family farm while his father began the nursing home business in Caribou.
Cyr’s father was constantly working, and according to Cyr, his father would not have had the time to do what his son does now, because there was always a job to do.
“He was almost 91 [when he died] and had a long and full life,” Cyr said. “There’s no doubt that he was the one that all of us looked up to.”
Now, at almost 70 years old, Cyr goes out multiple times a week, with his full digital Nikon camera, to capture Aroostook County in still shots through his photography.