Friday, October 12, 2012

William Notman 'Canada's most successful photographer'

On CBC Radio this eve Part One on William Notman - famous photographer of, among other things - the eighth wonder of the world, or the Victoria Bridge in Montreal (for example), and the Fathers, and daughters, of Confederation.

 From CBC Idea's website:
"He [Notman] arrived in Montreal in 1856 as a fugitive from the law. He became Canada's most successful photographer. A rare combination of canny businessman and master craftsman, William Notman embraced the wondrous new medium of photography and left us a unique record of Canada's social history. A portrait by Montreal writer Elaine Kalman Naves.  ...

On the lam from the law, William Notman remade himself in Montreal.  He saw his chance and quickly mastered the brand new art of photography. His timing couldn't have been better.  Fascination with the astonishing new medium was sweeping Europe and North America - never before had it been possible to create a permanent image without an artist's pencil or paintbrush or engraver's tools.  Eventually, William Notman would own the largest photography business in North America ... "
      And to the 'Daughters' of Confederation:

Mercy Coles, who I wrote about last fall at this time (here and about weekly through November 2011 and used in my novel To the Edge of the Sea, was the charming, beautiful and unmarried 26 year old daughter of Prince Edward Island delegate and Father of Confederation George Coles. She kept a diary of her trip to Quebec for the Confederation conference of 1864 and subsequent tour of the Canadas. Their first stop after the conference was Montreal. There she writes of her visit to William Notman's studio to have her photograph taken.
Saturday October 29, 1864 continued:
“ ... Ma and I have just been to the Convent Congregation Notre Dame. Mr. McDonald (stutterer) came and took Mamma and I. I have just come from Notman’s. My photograph was not good I don’t think, so I would not take it however the man said he would send me two dozen to the Island. ...”

        The CBC link has good pictures and a link to the McCord Museum in Montreal which has a phenomenal collection of pictures, videos and information on Notman and his work, (regardless of what Mercy Coles thought of her photo).
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