Histories of Lacombe’s photographers

Fortunate indeed are those communities with pioneer photographers who recorded and preserved pictures of historic events in their history.

HOWARD FREDEEN

Fortunate indeed are those communities with pioneer photographers who recorded and preserved pictures of historic events in their history.

Lacombe was one such community.

First was Mark Hannah in the pre-1900 era. He, in common with many in his profession, photographed everything and everyone with one lamentable exception.

They left no pictures of themselves apart from occasions when they happened to be part of a group. Such was the case for Hannah.

He was a member of Lacombe’s hockey team, a forward to be precise, and he appears in the two extant portraits of the team.

The last photograph attributed to Hannah was of the G.G. Mobley family in 1903, a photograph that is not among those in the Michener House archives but was recorded in the history of the Mobley family which was compiled by Doug Mobley.

Hannah sold his business to John Scales, the man who was truly the pioneer photographer of Lacombe.

The images that he left us provide the earliest pictorial records of Lacombe and the surrounding communities of Bentley, Blackfalds and Lamerton, the latter the precursor to Mirror.

In those early days of photography there was no such convenience as roll film. That would not be invented until 1889 (by George Eastman). Images were captured on glass plates coated (one side) with a dried emulsion, using cameras that were both bulky and heavy.

The glass plates came in several sizes with 4×5 and 5×7 (inches that is) being the popular sizes, but larger plates were also available for cameras of appropriate size.

This era preceded the automobile so Scales and his contemporaries would have transported equipment and boxes of glass plates (the latter constructed to minimize breakage of the fragile contents) to and from location over prairie trails by buggy or saddlebag.

Scales sold his business to Ben Cameron in 1910 and moved to Kamloops.

Here he once again pioneered the art of photography and left a legacy of remarkable historical photographs. Cameron has been widely acclaimed as the pioneer photographer of Central Alberta and his name does appear on many images captured during the pioneer era.

However, all images of Lacombe scenes or of people that predate 1910, although they may bear the name Cameron or the caption “taken in the studio of Ben Cameron” were in fact taken by Scales.

The studio and images did not become Cameron property until 1910 and Styles was the true pioneer photographer for events prior to this year. Glass plate photography had disappeared altogether by the mid-1920s.

Harvey and Del MacIntyre purchased the Cameron studio in the late 1940s and Harvey’s photographic skill is evident in the pages of ‘Lacombe the First Century’.

He provided original photographs for this particular history, restored the historic pictures which were donated by individuals, and developed negatives found on the decades-old glass plates that remained in the studio. When he left the studio to teach at the Lacombe Composite High School he donated and personally delivered the entire collection of glass plates to the Glenbow Foundation in Calgary.

The weight of the consignment taxed his station wagon to its very limits. At Glenbow the photographs can be accessed as the Ben Cameron collection.

What Harvey did not know was that the walls of the old studio held a treasure trove of glass plate negatives.

These did not com e to light until the building was being renovated for use as a radio and television repair shop.

The renovation crew, unaware of the treasure exposed between the studs of the wall, was using shovels to transfer glass shards – and a few intact plates — to the garbage barrel at the alley when Bill Marquhart chanced on the scene.

He managed to salvage a few of the larger pieces, some of harvest scenes showing threshing machines and bundle crews in the full glory of harvest during the era of steam power.

 

Just Posted

Member Terry Parsons’ custom built track vehicle.
Forestburg’s Area 53 Racetrack gears up for action-packed season

Site will also host a portion of the ‘Miles of Mayhem’ event in July

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported five additional deaths Wednesday due to COVID-19. (File photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Red Deer at 169 active cases of COVID-19

Province set to move into Stage 2 of reopening Thursday

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Denmark soccer player Christian Eriksen collapses during game against Finland

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Airport ground crew offload a plane carrying just under 300,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine which is developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
1st batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines won’t be released in Canada over quality concerns

The vaccines were quarantined in April before they were distributed to provinces

Grade 12 students at Wetaskiwin Composite High School took place in the annual water fight off school property on June 11, 2021. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
Graduating students in Wetaskiwin throw water fight after being told it could result in suspension

Students were told their participation could result in them being barred from graduation ceremonies.

The arrest south of Winnipeg occurred before Bernier was to arrive at a protest in the city. (Twitter/Maxime Bernier)
Maxime Bernier arrested following anti-rules rallies in Manitoba: RCMP

He’s been charged with exceeding public gathering limits and violating Manitoba’s requirement to self-isolate

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives for the G7 Summit, at the airport in Newquay, United Kingdom, Thursday, June 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Details on Canada’s vaccine sharing plan coming Sunday, up to 100 million doses

Canada’s high commissioner to the UK says details will come after the G7 summit

Conservative MP Tom Kmiec waves to the crowd during the Calgary Stampede parade in Calgary, Friday, July 8, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Newborn daughter’s death inspires MP’s bill on bereavement leave for parents

Conservative MP Tom Kmiec says a day or two off not enough for some grieving parents

Most Read