Fonds consists of graphic materials. One engraving, 1760, is entitled A view of Quebec from the Bason, engraved by P. Canot, after a work by Captain Hervey Smith. 841 photographs, 1885-1890, depict the Canadian West; Fort Simpson, N.W.T.; Japanese immigrants on the West Coast; portraits of various individuals. 93 photographs, ca. 1900-ca. 1940, predominant 1900-1910, include lantern slides and glass plate positives, and depict people, places, events in and around Montreal and Western Canada, including Sir Wilfrid Laurier campaigning, athletic meets, games, and events (probably in Montreal), mountain, wilderness, and forest scenes, cowboys, mountain climbers, hunters, and others, some copies of pictorialist style salon prints; with most of these photographs probably by Robert Reford, though some items are commercial slides by the Keystone View Co.; and the colour slides depicting the Rocky Mountains and hikers probably date from the 1930s, and the photo depicting a snow covered stone cabin is ca. 1910. 340 prints in various processes, 77 photographs, 14 drawings, one watercolour and one photomechanical reproduction, n.d., relate primarily to the history of Montreal, and include portraits, military views, landscapes, cityscapes, architecture, as well as of other more general aspects of Canadian history; and numerous Canadian, British and French artists are represented: George Carr, W.H. Bartlett, John Lambert, J.P. Cockburn, George Heriot, Robert A Sproule, Cornelius Krieghoff, Robert Bouchette and various printing companies.
Fonds also contains textual records and a map. The textual records, after originals dated n.d., 1723, 1731, 1803, consist of notes on "Early Settlement Metis" and "To the Keeper of the Goal", n.d., 1803, transcript, three pages; a partial papier terrier, photocopy; and the inscription on the first French lighthouse at Louisbourg, photograph. There are also an account of expenditures, n.d., of the "Montreal Assembly" in manuscript, with accompanying photostat of invitation, n.d., to attend the Montreal Assembly; and a manuscript, n.d., by an anonymous author commenting on the Montreal Assembly and other subjects. Engraved map, mid to late 18th century, of North America from the best authorities.
Reford, Robert W. (Robert Wilson), 1867-1951: Robert Wilson Reford was born in Montreal in 1867, the eldest son of Robert Reford and Katherine Drummond. He was educated at Upper Canada College. His father was the founder of the Robert Reford Company, a shipping firm in Montreal. Prior to joining his father's firm, Robert travelled to the Mediterranean, Britain, and France. In 1888, he began his apprenticeship in business, working on board a vessel in the Mediterranean. In 1889, he went to British Columbia to work in family business interests. He also worked in Antwerp and Paris prior to returning to Montreal and joining the staff of the Robert Reford Company. In 1894, he married Elsie Stephen Meighen, the daughter of Robert Meighen and niece of Sir George Stephen, Baron Mount Stephen. From 1913 to 1946, he served as president of Robert Reford Company.
One of Canada's most prolific amateur photographers, Reford documented the people and landscape of British Columbia during his business apprenticeship there. He continued his interest in photography as a member of the Montreal Camera Club in 1892. In addition to his interest in photography, Reford was a passionate art collector. He amassed one of the largest collections of Canadian and European art in Canada. An artist himself, he sketched a number of works related to native Canada.
Robert Wilson Reford died in 1951.
Exhibition(s): 1980, City Blocks, City Spaces, PAC, Ottawa, Ont. (group). 1983, Private Realms of Light, PAC, Ottawa, Ont.