British photographic history

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The first Canadian photographer of international renown with subjects ranging from royalty, Governors General and the Fathers of Confederation, to Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Anna of Anna and the King of Siam fame. He would also have been responsible for most of the vintage photos of Victorian Montreal, its winter scenes and its citizens. 

Not only that, he also owned the largest photography business in 19th-century North America. But his biggest coup must be the 'Maple Box' - a portfolio of his pictures as Canada's official gift to Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, in 1860.

So who was this migrant from Paisley who arrived in Montreal in 1856? Senior cataloguer Nora Hague of the Notman Photographic Archives is a fount of information about William Notman (8 March 1826 – 25 November 1891), his career and times. The Archives (which include 400,000 glass negatives, 60,000 of which have been digitized) are housed at the Mc-Cord Museum, where Hague has worked for more than 40 years. You can read an article on him here and view some of them here too.

But more interestingly, if Notman is someone you are researching on, CBC Ideas, 88.5 or 104.7 FM in Canada will be airing a two-part radio documentary about the life of William Notman by Elaine Kalman Naves on Wednesday, 22nd February, and Thursday, 23rd February, at 9pm. Fear not for local UK BPH readers - with today's technology I think there is an equivalent iPlayer which you can try here on the day. Hope it works!

Photo: Ice shove, Montreal 1884 by William Notman, courtesy McCord Museum.


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Comment by Michael Wong on February 20, 2012 at 22:03

Sorry! I stand corrected.

Or should he be known as a Scottish Canadian ........  :)

Comment by RJA on February 20, 2012 at 21:38

Have to take issue with you here Michael - Notman was a Scot (as you write in header) NOT a Canadian - blame Wikipedia!

Comment by Michael Wong on February 19, 2012 at 20:54

Thanks! That's a useful resource too ........

Comment by Steven Evans on February 18, 2012 at 19:07
With pleasure, Michael. There a number of good books about Notman that can be easily found on line as well as a good television production -- Notman's Canada -- that can be ordered on DVD at the following address: http://www.ptvproductions.ca/index.php/projects/notmans-canada
Comment by Michael Wong on February 18, 2012 at 17:03

Thanks for the tip, Steven. I'm sure fellow BPH members will appreciate it .....

Comment by Steven Evans on February 18, 2012 at 16:12
There is a CBC app available through iTunes that works quite well, and the programme may very well be saved as a podcast.

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