Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Notman: A Visionary Photographer

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Notman: A Visionary Photographer

Article excerpt

Helene Samson and Suzanne Sauvage (eds), Notman: A Visionary Photographer (Paris and Montreal: éditions Hazan/McCord Museum, 2016), 240 pp. 150 b&w photos. Cased. $59.99. ISBN 978-0-3002-2367-5. Notman: un photographe visionnaire. ISBN 978-2-7541-0957-4.

Paisley-born William Notman (1826-91) emigrated to Montreal in August 1856 in search of a better life. Shortly after arriving he opened a photographic studio. During the 1860s and 1870s he established studios employing over fifty photographers in cities in Quebec, Ontario, the Maritime provinces, and the New England states. By the 1880s his photographers travelled west to the prairies, Banff and the Rockies. His influence and reputation stretched from coast to coast. His family business continued until 1935, but their heyday was firmly rooted in the nineteenth century which is the focus of both the exhibition at the McCord Museum in Montreal, 2016-17, and of this publication.

One hundred and fifty black and white photographs were selected for the exhibition and this publication from over 200,000 glass negatives and 450,000 prints in the vast Notman photographic archive collection acquired in 1956 by the McCord Museum, McGill University. They make a fitting tribute to mark the sesquicentennial of Canadian Confederation and the 375th anniversary of the founding of Montreal. Both are an opportunity to reintroduce Notman to the public and examine his remarkable contribution to the history of Canadian photography.

The ground work for this publication was laid by former Notman curator Stanley Triggs, who from the 1960s through the early 1990s wrote several important tomes. …

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