William Notman collection [graphic material]

  • Record Information – Brief
    Hierarchical level:
    [ca. 1855]-1926.
    Type of material:
    Photographs, Art
    Found in:
    Archives / Collections and Fonds
    Item ID number:
    Link to this page:
    This link identifies the web page describing this particular record. Unlike the temporary link in your browser, this link will allow you to access, and reference, this page in the future.
    To link to this descriptive record, copy and paste the URL where ever needed (wiki, blog, document).
    Context of this record:
    • William Notman collection
      William Notman collection
  • Collection includes:
    6 lower level description(s)
    View lower level description(s)
    [ca. 1855]-1926.
    Place of creation:
    ca. 1,223 photographs: b&w; some hand-coloured.
    348 photographs : b&w glass plate negatives.
    16 photographs : b&w contact prints.
    Language of material:
    Scope and content:
    Collection consists of individual photographs, groups of photographs, albums and portfolios of photographs of a variety of individuals, places, events, activities, and structures taken by William Notman, Notman Studios and its successors and branches across Canada and in the United States. Collection has been divided into the following series: Photographic albums; Places and events; Individual and group portraits; Composite photographs; and Miscellaneous photographs. Additionally, the collection includes personnel and ships of the Royal Navy's North America and West Indies Squadron, Halifax, N.S.; and personnel and activities of various British and Canadian regiments, Halifax, N.S. Photos by Notman Studio of Halifax.
    Biography/Administrative history:
    Notman, William, 1826-1891: William Notman was born in 1826 in Scotland. He came to Canada in 1856 to a dry goods job with Ogilvy, Lewis & Co. of Montreal. He opened his first photographic studio on Bleury Street, then a string of 20 studios throughout the 1860s to the 1880s in Canada and the northeastern United States. In 1868, he opened a branch studio in Ottawa, under the management of William James Topley, who had been apprenticed to him for three years. Another Notman studio was opened in Halifax in 1870. Some of these studios were organized in partnerships, as for example, that with his brother James in St.John, N.B. in 1872, or that of Notman & Fraser in Toronto, which opened around 1868. Such studios bore Notman's name on their images, although it would be the partner, one of the operators or a manager who actually took the photograph. In 1876, the firm became Notman & Sandham with the entry of Henry Sandham, R.C.A. The name was changed again in 1880 to William Notman & Son when the oldest boy, William McFarlane (1857-1913) was brought into partnership. (Eventually the two youngest sons, Charles and George, also worked for the firm; it was George who continued the business until its sale to Associated Screen News in 1935). The variety of work include a huge volume of portraits, group portraits of athletic clubs, commercial assignments and souvenir images, such as landscapes and city views. Notman also pioneered the development of photographic publishing in North America. Among Notman's publications are "Photographic Selections" (Montreal, 1863), "North American Scenery" (Montreal, 1864), "Portraits of British Americans, with biographical sketches", produced from 1865 to 1868 in collaboration with John Fennings Taylor. In 1866, discerning a heightened interest in sports as a leisure activity, Notman published three portfolios of photographs entitled "Cariboo hunting", "Moose hunting", and "Sports pastimes and pursuits in Canada". Although he did not publish books after 1868, photographs from his studio illustrated other publications such as Henry George Vennor's "Our birds of prey" (1876). In 1869 a half-tone reproduction of a Notman photograph of Prince Arthur in George Édouard Desbarats's Canadian Illustrated News constituted the first commercial use of this technique. It demonstrated once again Notman's place in the forefront of photography. His personal success was marked by the achievement of many medals and photographic honours and by his appointment as photographer to the Queen around 1861. The magic of Notman's name is still such as to put a premium on all images attributed to him or to one of his studios. Many continue to uphold the standard of excellence which became synonymous with the name of Notman. William Notman died in Montreal in 1891. Biographical information from VSA accession file.
    Finding aid:
    Photographs (acc. no. 1988-274): (Paper) finding aid is a list of photographs. FA-365

    Photographs (acc. nos. 1982-248, 1979-090): (Other) See "Photographic inventories, indexes, and caption lists arranged by accession number." FA-500

    Photographs: (Paper) list of plates in accession file.

    Photographs: (Other) reproduction of photograph in accession file.

    Additional information:
    Custodial history:
    These photographs come from a variety of sources, including individuals, auction houses, dealers, and unknown sources. They have been amassed as one collection because they were all created by William Notman or by component parts of the Notman Studio organization.
    Availability of other formats note:
    The following item has been digitized: C-020310 (DAPDCAP).
    Exhibitions note:
    Exhibition(s): SG:1860-1891, exhibited consistently at world fairs. 1979, Fact and Fiction: Canadian Painting and Photography (group). 1860-1900, McCord Museum, Montreal (group). 1980, City Blocks, City Spaces, PAC, Ottawa (group). 1985, The Stamp of a Studio, AGO, Toronto (group).
    Associated material note:
    The Notman Photographic Archives is located at the McCord Museum, Montreal, Quebec. Other works by William Notman located in: New Westminster Public Library, New Westminster, B.C.; University of British Columbia, Library, Special Collections, Vancouver, B.C. (12801/1-66); Vancouver Public Library, Vancouver, B.C.; Provincial Archives of Newfoundland, St. John's, Nfld.; Public Archives of Nova Scotia, Halifax, N.S.; Stephen Leacock Memorial Home, Orillia, Ont.; Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ont.; Metropolitan Toronto Library, Toronto, Ont.; Archives du seminaire de Québec, Québec, Québec; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Department of Prints, Drawings and Photographs, Boston, MA; Boston Public Library, Print Department, Boston, MA; National Gallery of Canada.
    Related material:
    Other photographs by Notman can be found in the following MIKAN/MINISIS records: 8206 (1964-144), 8318 (1966-001), 8443 (1966-107), 10484 (1973-290), 10808 (1974-169), 10846 (1974-202), 12614 (1979-073), 13329 (1981-156), 13399 (1981-219), 13519 (1982-057), 13855 (1983-122), 13863 (1983-130), 13958 (1983-222), 15388 (1989-136), 15774 (1986-143), 15794 (1986-150), 16168 (1990-211), 16545 (1990-523), 16622 (1990-615), 16627 (1990-619), 20924 (1995-114), 24009 (1997-057).
    Container note(s):
    Related control no.:
    1946-160 NPC
  • Conditions of access:
    Terms of use:
    Photographs: No restrictions on use. Copyright expired. Credit: name of photographer / Library and Archives Canada / copy negative number.

    You can order materials in advance to be ready for you when you visit. You will need a user card to do this.

    Cannot visit us on site? You can purchase a copy to be sent to you. Some restrictions may apply.


Date modified: