British photographic history

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The British Contribution to Early British Columbia Photography

Any BPH members carrying out research in this area will be pleased to know that there is a talk on British photographers who came to British Columbia in the 19th century. These early pioneers were there not only to record events, locations and people, but also to promote investment or immigration.

Photo historian & author, David Mattison, from the B.C. Archives has identified 15 early British photographers who spent enough time in British Columbia to make important contributions to their historic record. This include Edward Dossetter who once worked as a photographer at the South Kensington Museum, where royal engineers who came to B.C. as part of the 1858 North American Boundary Commission were also trained in photography. His glass negatives ended up at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Other Victorian photographers covered include Charles Macmunn and Richard Maynard who both photographed the Canadian Pacific Railway contruction in early 1880s; George Robinson Fardon, one of the first commercial photographers; Frederick Dally, one of the finest 19th century photographers in B.C., and Francis George Claudet.

In total, Mattison will show around 40 photographs of early B.C. taken by the 15 British photographers, including some of the first photographs taken in Victoria. Since his retirement, Mattison manages, a database of archival materials from repositories throughout B.C. He also writes for Searcher, a magazine for database professionals.

Details of the talk is here, but as you would probably appreciate, is held in B.C. (!), but hopefully it will provide you with links for further research into this area.

Photo: Arch erected on Fort Street by Edward Dossetter, 1882 (Copyright: British Columbia Archives)

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