George IV Bridge – celebrating 50 years

Volume with William Notman photographs: acquired in 1994

Henry G Vennor's 'Our birds of prey, or the eagles, hawks, and owls of Canada' was published in Montreal in 1876. His book features illustrations by William Notman, a Scot who became Montreal's leading photographer.

Reproduced here is one of Notman's early photographs. It shows the Great Gray or Cinereous Owl, described by the author as 'the largest and most magnificent of the whole Owl family'. With it is the little Acadian or Saw-whet Owl, which Notman describes as 'the smallest species found in Canada'. The illustrations are albumen prints, a technique that closely followed the introduction of photography in the early 1840s.

William Notman emigrated from Glasgow in 1856, on the bankruptcy of his family's wholesale dry goods business. Soon after arrival in Canada, he set up a photographic business. It rapidly became the most important in Montreal and eventually the largest in North America. The business was continued by his son, closing in 1935.

Over 450,000 photographs from the Notman Studio are held in the Notman Photographic Archive at McCord Museum, Montreal.

<  '50 years' home page