The Photographers of Onderdonk's Way

This page copyright ©1997 by David Mattison.


Photography and the CPR Company in Western Canada

The dramatic image of the driving of the last spike at Craigellachie on November 7, 1885 is indelibly etched upon the Canadian psyche. While some who are asked can identify one or two of the main actors in this final scene of a nearly two decade long cross-Canada spectacle, only a handful of individuals can name the photographer off the top of their head. His name was Alex J. Ross. The second volume of Pierre Berton's epic history of the CPR construction begins with a superb description of what he calls "The Great Canadian Photograph." Berton, however, does not reveal his name until near the end of his book:

As the little hunchbacked photographer, Ross of Winnipeg, raised his camera, Mallandaine craned forward so as to see and be seen. (Berton, 1971, p. 415)

Ross's presence at this historic occasion is something of a historic curiosity. Ross, Best & Company was the 1880s Winnipeg partnership of John Ross, possibly a brother, A.J. Ross, and possibly the brothers John Best and A.J. Best (Mautz, 1997, p. 494). As there were many other photographers who could have made that photograph, its existence as the sole surviving example of the last spike ceremony (more than one exposure was made by Ross) is all the more remarkable.

Photography was an evolving yet mature technology at this occasion with a long association to the railway and its federal government guarantors. Between 1871 and 1880 during the critical search for an acceptable route through the mountainous terrain of British Columbia and the Rocky Mountains, photographers accompanied Geological Survey of Canada expeditions.

In 1871 photographic technology consisted of bulky cameras, glass negatives and portable darkrooms for sensitizing the negatives and developing them on the spot following exposure in the camera. This process is generally known as wet plate photography. A detailed explanation of this process and its first use in Canada for exploration can be found in Richard Huyda's Camera in the Interior, 1858.

Due to the expense and burden of the wet plate process, survey expeditions traversing difficult terrain such as was found in Western North America did not initially utilize photography. Instead they generally employed skilled artists who sketched or painted in watercolour. Jackson (1989) analyzed the work of both Canadian and American artists and photographers on various expeditions including those searching for a viable CPR route. A few notable exceptions exist: The British Army Corps of Royal Engineers employed its own trained photographers to document the construction of boundary markers along the 49th Parallel from the Rockies to Point Roberts between 1858-1862 and again from Lake of the Woods to the Rockies in 1872-1875. Further details on these surveys can be found in Birrell (1981; 1996).

Similar work was not undertaken in the United States, however, until 1867 when Timothy O'Sullivan was appointed to accompany the Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel led by Clarence King. Only a year earlier California photographer Carleton E. Watkins worked in conjunction with a California State geological survey party. Naef and Wood (1975) is among the best account of these and other US survey photographers. According to Birrell (1978), it was likely the success of Timothy O'Sullivan's widely praised photographs that convinced A.R.C. Selwyn, Director of the Geological Survey of Canada, to reexamine the utility of field photography.

The offer of the William Notman firm, Montreal, to outfit the GSC party with a photographer clinched the matter for Selwyn. Benjamin Baltzly (1835-1883), a native of Ohio and Notman employee, was equipped with 500 pounds of gear and photographed in BC from mid-July through early November 1871. Part of the area he recorded between New Westminster and Kamloops would be the route chosen for the CPR. The GSC survey also explored a potential route along the North Thompson River to Tete Jaune Cache and the Yellowhead Pass through the Rockies. Birrell (1978) fully documents the Baltzly trip.

The GSC disengaged itself from CPR route survey work, but subsequent employees, among them George Mercer Dawson, continued to utilize photography as a tool for rapidly gathering visual data. Some of the areas surveyed in 1876 by Dawson for geological purposes were along the CPR route.

In 1871, Sanford Fleming, the civil engineer in charge of locating routes for the CPR, hired Charles George Horetzky (1838-1900) as both a photographer and an explorer. Horetzky was a former HBC employee and amateur photographer. According to Birrell (1975), Horetzky was not overly fond of taking photographs. Horetzky worked on both the Prairies and in the central and northern interior of BC. He championed through his book Canada on the Pacific (1874) one of several CPR routes from Edmonton via the Yellowhead Pass to the Pacific. His outspokenness in print and association with Fleming eventually cost him his job in 1880. Marcus Smith, Horetzky's boss, summed up his influence on the choice of a CPR route through BC:

You [Fleming] will have to explain this [a suggestion for a terminus at Kitimat Inlet] to Mr. Horetzky for he is such a crazy, conceited fellow, he will think (and publish) that his genius is being repressed, if he has not his say, although, I may inform you that, except for his photographs, his work is altogether worthless and can't be laid down to a general map. (Berton, 1970, p. 271).

From a technological standpoint, as Birrell (1981) pointed out, Horetzky's photographs are significant because he was among the first explorers in BC to successfully use dry plate photography, the eventual successor to the wet plate method. Dry plate negatives, as their name implies, were prepared and packaged in a factory. The photographer needed only to ensure that the negatives were properly loaded into the camera before exposure and removed and safely stored for development on the spot or later.

The CPR Company, created by an act of Parliament in mid-February 1881, following a decade of political wrangling, cast aside much of the survey work managed by Fleming. A year before William Cornelius Van Horne was appointed general manager of the new private company charged with completing the rail line, the CPR hired its first photographer to document construction along the Prairies.

1881: F.J. Haynes, The First Official CPR Photographer
in Western Canada

Although he never ventured into BC to document construction of the Onderdonk contracts, Dakota Territory photographer Frank Jay Haynes (1853-1921) was the first photographer hired specifically by the CPR Company to record the railway's progress. He was likely picked for the job because he was the closest experienced railroad photographer to the CPR's Western Division headquarters in Winnipeg.

Haynes was the official photographer for the Northern Pacific Railroad between the late 1870s and 1905 and thus totally familiar with the visual requirements for successfully depicting the drama of rail line construction. A.B. Stickney, the division's general superintendent who employed Haynes, likely knew him or of his reputation. Stickney owned a farm in Moorhead across the river from Haynes' staging point in Fargo.

Haynes was hired in June 1881 and spent nearly two months between Winnipeg and end of track photographing a variety of sights. He took at least 92 negatives but listed only 85 for sale in his fall 1881 catalogue. Only 65 of these negatives are preserved by the Montana Historical Society. Haynes covered a large amount of territory: nearly 600 miles the length of Lake Winnipeg, another 260 miles round trip from Winnipeg to Rat Portage (Kenora) and a further 650 miles between Winnipeg and Fort Qu'Appelle. On this last leg of his epic travels on behalf of the CPR, the end of track was only 20 to 30 miles west of Portage la Prairie. From there to Fort Qu'Appelle, Haynes travelled by horse-drawn wagon.

Haynes appears to have photographed exclusively with a stereo camera and sold stereograph cards. The backs of these cards he titled "Canada Pacific Views" and himself "Official Photographer C.P.R." In addition to being the first of only a handful of photographers who could rightfully claim of the title of CPR official photographer, Haynes was also the first of these were receive a railway pass for unlimited use on the line.

The Puzzle of the Onderdonk Albums

The Onderdonk Albums at the British Columbia Archives (Visual Records accession no. 198401-006) consist of six bound albums, some of which are titled. A complete inventory compiled by Roger H. Boulet is available through the BCA. These albums contain photographs from at least two photographers: Richard Maynard and Charles Macmunn.

The Onderdonk Album at the Notman Archives (MP600) consists of 80 images (there were 81 but number 80 is missing) and all appear to be the work of a single photographer. Stanley Triggs, former curator of the Notman Archives, believes they are the work of either Charles Macmunn or civil engineer J.W. Heckman and were photographed in 1885. As will be seen below, my feeling is that the entire Onderdonk Album at the Notman Archives was produced by Macmunn.

The City of Vancouver also holds copy prints from either the BC Archives Onderdonk Albums and/or the Notman Archives.

1880-1887: Richard Maynard, the Victoria Shoemaker-Photographer

As odd as the choice of F.J. Haynes might seem in hindsight, no less unusual was the extensive documentation of CPR construction between 1880 and 1882 by Victoria photographer Richard Maynard (1832-1907). While his bread and butter was a boot and shoe business he operated in conjunction with his wife Hannah's (1834-1918) portrait studio, he made many field trips on his own and with Hannah between 1868 and 1893.

Hannah and Richard were English transplants via Bowmanville, Ontario. Married to Hannah in 1852 in Ontario, Richard abandoned his cobbler business when news of the Fraser River Gold Rush reached the East. Whether he struck it rich or not is unknown, but he returned to Ontario, collected his family, and they settled in Victoria in March 1862. A few months later Richard set out again for the Stikine Territory where another gold strike had been reported.

The earliest newspaper reports to his photography are dated May 1864. He loved to travel and throughout the 1880s his name and often his wife's was in various newspaper accounts: Richard's solo photographic expeditions included the Queen Charlotte Islands (1884 and with Hannah in 1888), Alaska (1879, 1882, 1887) and throughout southern Vancouver Island. They spent three weeks in May and June 1887 touring the newly opened CPR line as far as Banff and Canmore, Alberta.

In 1873 and 1874 Richard undertook commissioned work for the federal government. Dr. Israel Wood Powell, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for BC, hired him to record two tours of inspection of coastal villages on the mainland as far as Knight Inlet in 1873 and around Vancouver Island the next year.

No business records and few personal papers of either Richard or Hannah have survived. Of the latter type of record, those are found in the Newcombe Family papers at the BC Archives (MS-1077). The material relevant to Richard's work photographing along the Onderdonk contracts consists of at least two notebooks in which Richard recorded the format and subject matter of his photographs. The first notebook (No. 7) covers visits to Port Moody in March 1882 and to Yale in June 1882. The second notebook (No. 2) contains information on a trip to Kamloops and Eagle Pass in June 1885.

Good commercial photographers such as the Maynards recognized the earning potential of the CPR construction activity. They were also in the fortunate position of being able to work independently or in collaboration on their photo efforts which might explain why comparatively few photographs of the construction work exist and are confined to a handful of identifiable photographers. Richard was a prolific photographer, but despite long years at the craft his camera skills were not always technically or aesthetically proficient. If he failed to produce images that sold, there was always the boot and shoe business to fall back upon, as well as Hannah's successful portrait studio.

Notice was taken by the Inland Sentinel on October 14, 1880 of the Maynards' first trip to the site of Onderdonk's Contract 60:

Mr. & Mrs. Maynard of the Art Gallery, Victoria, recently visited Emory, Yale and vicinity and took a number of Photographs of the latter place and choice scenes at the tunnels, as well as along the river. They are prepared in the best style of the Art, and would be an acceptable present to send to friends; to be had at Palmer's News Depot, Yale; copies to be seen at this office. (p. 2)

The results of this first of several photographic excursions through 1885, primarily by Richard, to document the Onderdonk contracts between Port Moody and Eagle Pass continued to be advertised and reported in the Inland Sentinel. Richard produced large format (8 x 10 inch) and stereo negatives on these trips. Like his contemporary and competitor Charles Macmunn, Richard set up a distribution arrangement with a Victoria bookseller named W. Harrison who set up a branch store in Yale in April 1881 and sold Maynard views.

Richard's prints of the 1881 and possible 1880 trip also wound up in the hands of Henry J. Cambie, the Government's Engineer on Contract 60. He forwarded them to Sir Charles Tupper, Minister of Railways, in late December 1881 or early January 1882, characterizing Richard and his work in a February 3, 1882 letter to Sanford Fleming:

They are very good considering that the 'artist' is an old shoemaker lately transformed into a photographer. (National Archives of Canada, MG29A8, v.7, file 47).

Richard made several trips to Yale and Emory in 1881. He may have been present for the first run of the first locomotive, the Yale, on June 9. Perhaps the two most important set of photographs he produced that summer were of the short excursion of the first passenger train from Emory to Yale on July 4 and a series of post-fire views of Yale depicting the devastation that occurred on August 18. Richard also photographed along the Cariboo Road at places such as Nicarauga Bluff and Garrioch Ferry. These were described in the Inland Sentinel on September 8, 1881 .

Richard sent a further six "new" views to the Inland Sentinel which were described on February 9, 1882 . These views of Onderdonk Contract 60 included scenes of the railway bed and track 2 miles above Yale, a view of Yale and the railway from up the Fraser River, views from No. 3 Tunnel looking up and own river, and a view of the notorious Hell's Gate Canyon near Boston Bar. These may have been taken earlier in 1881 as lithographs illustrating CPR construction and based on Maynard images were published in the June and August 1881 issues of the West Shore, a Portland, Oregon, magazine.

Maynard revisited the Onderdonk contracts before and after the spring flood of 1882. The Inland Sentinel reported on this collection of views on June 29, 1882. Among them were Yale and Chilliwack at high water.

Richard's last known trip to document construction activity along "Onderdonk's Way" occurred in June 1885. He concentrated on the vistas and work that had occurred along Kamloops Lake and the South Thompson River, and past Shuswap Lake to Eagle Pass Landing . The Inland Sentinel of July 30, 1885 listed some of these photographs.

Richard Maynard also photographed the arrival of the first passenger train at Port Moody on July 4, 1886.

Maynard's notebooks (BCA MS-1077, vol. 47, files 2A to 2J, microfilm reel A-1764), inventories of glass negatives preserved by the BC Archives and the Onderdonk Albums require further detailed analysis.

To memorialize his years spent documenting CPR construction along the Fraser and Thompson River sections of the Onderdonk contracts, the Maynards created a montage of views (BC Archives photo no. HP017979). Some of the photographs showing sections of the Cariboo Road may actually have been taken by Frederick Dally (1838-1914) whose negatives the Maynards acquired.

1882 Summer: D.R. Judkins

David Roby Judkins (1836-1909), a native of Maine, spent his early photographic years in Massachusetts and Indiana before settling in Seattle around 1880. He created a unique marketing tool for the quiet backwaters of Puget Sound, a floathome and studio. Constructed in Seattle, the Floating Sunbeam Gallery (ca. 1881-1884) sat on a barge and was towed from place to place.

Judkins did not confine himself to work throughout the Puget Sound area. In the mid-summer 1882, Judkins had his floating studio towed to New Westminster. In late July or early August he set up a temporary studio in Yale corner of Albert and Douglas Streets (Inland Sentinel, August 3, 1882). A week later the paper reported he had "gone up the line for the purpose of taking views and will be absent some days." He went at least 20 miles up river as the list of views published on August 31 specifically mentioned those scenes.

On August 14, Judkins set up his camera at "Gordon Creek Bridge and convenient to Mr. Ashworth's residence, and took a few views of the salmon swarming along the edge and at the mouth of the Creek." (Inland Sentinel, August 17, 1882). The salmon run photographs were so good that they were still being talked about more than a year later (Resources of British Columbia, December 1, 1883, p. 41-2).

Captain Newton Henry Chittenden (1840-1925), an American adventurer who explored the Queen Charlotte Islands in 1884 with Richard Maynard, happened to be present during the salmon run and wrote:

Before leaving, a photographer, Mr. D.R. Judkins, of New Westminster, arrived and took two views of the remarkable scene. Mr. Daniel Ashworth [one of two explosives engineers], wife and family were also present. (Chittenden, 1984 reprint, p. 33)

As was the usual practice, Judkins sent the Inland Sentinel a set of views which were described on August 31, 1882. While the newspaper did not describe them as stereo views, that is what the surviving views in the BC Archives and other collections appear to be. Not enough analysis has been done of the Judkins images to determine if any appear in the various Onderdonk photo albums.

The photographs included several scenes around Yale, including Onderdonk's and Dr. Daniel Ashworth's homes, Native Indian activities near Yale, the Alexandra Suspension Bridge at Spuzzum, Onderdonk's steamer Skuzzy, Hell's Gate, Boston Bar, the treacherous Cariboo Wagon Road and various CPR views some of which show the rail line in relation to the wagon road. The Judkins' views, like those of Richard Maynard, were for sale at W. Harrison's, Yale.

Judkins subsequently advertised his BC connection on the backs of some of his photographs, proclaiming "From Judkins Floating Sunbeam Gallery, Puget Sound and British Columbia" (BC Archives photo no. HP007643). The stereograph cards of his 1882 Fraser River venture bear the front imprint "D.R. Judkins, Photo. Stereographs of British Columbia" and the series are titled and numbered on the image itself.

1882 Fall: C. Spring

The Inland Sentinel reported on October 19, 1882 that an amateur photographer from Victoria, Mr. C. Spring, photographed the "Grand Arch" in Yale for the visit of the Governor General the Marquis of Lorne and a view of Yale Creek Falls.

1883: John Uren

John Batrel Uren (ca. 1842-1919) was born in London, England. He first appears in business as a photographer in 1874 in Victoria. He appears not to have remained long in one place although he could not be described as a true itinerant or travelling photographer. His base of operations remained Vancouver Island until he moved to New Westminster in February 1879 where he remained until around 1890 when he relocated to the Nanaimo area. By 1900 he was a photographer in Chilliwack where he worked until 1908. He subsequently moved to Renton, Washington, where he died on February 26, 1919, aged 77, occupation, photographer.

His significance to Onderdonk's Way is that one of his photographs is reputed to be, according to its former owner John Murray, the "First picture taken of Port Moody Year 1883" (City of Vancouver Archives Photo OUTDOORS P. 30; N. 21). The rail line splitting the town in two sits on a rough grade and no ties to stabilize the rails are visible.

1883-1887: Charles Macmunn

Like many other professional photographers of the last century, the details of Charles Macmunn's (1840?-1903) life are as yet sketchy. According to his obituary he was a native of Manchester, England. He first appears in Victoria as a photographer in 1883 and a full page ad by his distributor, T.N. Hibben & Co., booksellers & stationers, proclaims "Sole Agents for Macmunn's Views of Canadian Pacific Railway, Victoria And Surroundings" (Dictionary of the Chinook Jargon, Victoria: T.N. Hibben & Co., 1883, inside back cover).

Several unsigned Macmunn photographs appear in the Onderdonk album preserved at the Notman Archives (MP600). Most of the views in this album concentrate on the wooden trestle and bridge structures. Stanley Triggs, former curator of the Notman Archives, believes all the photographs in the album were taken in 1885. They are now known to be Macmunn's work because six engravings based on the same photographs were published in the London Graphic and the Scientific American Supplement in 1887. All six photographs are preserved in at least three separate archives: the BC Archives (BCA), the Kamloops Museum and Archives (KMA) and the Notman Archives (NA MP600). The BC Archives also holds an album of Macmunn CPR views produced in the 1890s.

Among the Macmunn views taken along 'Onderdonk's Way' during its construction are the following:

The following may also be a Macmunn image:

Like some of his contemporaries, Macmunn revisited some of the same points on the rail line to rephotograph them.

Charles Macmunn was still working as a photographer at the time of his death. Married but without children, his widow Margaret supported herself as a dressmaker. She may have sold prints or the negative collection to the Maynard family of photographers.

1884-1885: J.W. Heckman

Joseph William Heckman (1854?-1937) was a civil engineer employed by the CPR and amateur photographer. His photographs are preserved by the CP Archives in Montreal. As his prints were usually mounted, captioned and signed "J W H Asst Engnr Photo" or "J.W.H. 1884", it is unlikely he took any of the photographs in the various Onderdonk albums.

1884, 1887: William McFarlane Notman

William McFarlane Notman (1857-1913) was the son of famed Montreal photographer William Notman (1826-1891). The Notman name is synonymous with fine photography across Canada. Yet while the William Notman's sons made several trips between 1884 and 1909 through Western Canada to British Columbia, the first summer trip arranged with CPR President William Van Horne only got as far as Kicking Horse Valley just inside the BC border in early August.

The next trip by Notman and his brother George was not made until after the CPR line was fully open to Vancouver in the late summer 1887. Portions of the Onderdonk contracts handed over to the CPR the previous year had already been modified. This second trip is noteworthy for two reasons: the Notman brothers had the use of "Photographic Car No. One" (the name one used by Alexander Henderson and Professor Buell) and because the brothers photographed with a large-format camera that took "mammoth" plate negatives (16 x 20 inches and larger). The CPR Company used enlargements from these negatives for prints that were hung in 1888 in various company buildings in Vancouver.

1885-1886: "Professor" Oliver Buell

The self-styled "Professor" Oliver Buell (1844-1910) played a not insignificant role in some of the earliest promotion of the CPR, yet his name is hardly remembered in that context. Rather, he is more recognized as the photographer of the Riel Rebellion of 1885, not only aspects of the military operation, but also Riel's trial in Regina.

Born in Illinois, Buell worked as a photographer and magic lantern (stereopticon) exhibitor/lecturer. Married to a Canadian and based in the East, he spent much of the first half of the 1880s travelling the CPR.

During a brief stop in Calgary by CPR Vice President Van Horne's party who were returning from the last spike ceremony at Craigellachie, Buell gave him a set of photographs he had taken in the Rockies and Selkirk Mountains. These were made after the Riel Trial of August 1885 and before the driving of the last spike. Buell claimed on his visit to Vancouver in 1886 that he had accompanied Governor General Lansdowne on his trip to BC the previous year. In early February 1886, Buell sent a further "two cases of photographs" to Van Horne (Van Horne to Buell, February 10, 1886, Van Horne Letterbooks, CP Archives).

Buell bears the distinction of being the first of the various official CPR photographers to reach Vancouver, except that he reportedly arrived by ship from New York City on August 28, 1886 (Vancouver News, August 29, 1886, p. 2). This may be a mistake as the Dominion Land Surveyor Otto Klotz, also an amateur photographer, met up with him in mid-June in the Selkirk Mountains near Mountain Creek Bridge.

Buell took a handful of photographs of the Terminal City, Vancouver's earliest nickname, and some of these are preserved in the archives of the Canadian Railway Museum in Quebec. Other collections of Buell prints are preserved by the CP Archives, Montreal, and the Glenbow-Alberta Institute Archives, Calgary.

Buell and his wife left the West Coast via Port Moody and in the comfort of Photographic Car No. 1 which also served William McFarlane Notman and Alexander Henderson. They returned gathering views along the way, including a rather candid portrait of Sir John amd Lady A. Macdonald and companions standing outside the rear car of their train to admire the Stave River on July 24, 1886 (Silversides, p. 60).

Buell's photograph of clay formations close to Ashcroft, at a spot identified as near Penny's (Buell's), bears similarity to one in the Onderdonk Album at the Notman Archives (MP600 (no. 71)) which is described as below Hamlin's. As erosion of the graded gravel bed railbed is clearly evident in Buell's image, this eliminates him as the photographer for the Notman Archives image since he was not in that area any earlier than the summer or fall of 1886.

Buell was also a rarity among photographers in that he did not sell any of his photographs but used them exclusively for his magic lantern lecture shows. Some of his photographs were, however, published by the CPR in promotional literature, including a souvenir view book titled Glimpses Along the Canadian Pacific Railway: Mountain Series A.

Buell and the CPR Company went their separate ways after 1886. Buell resumed his travel lectures on the Eastern seaboard and only returned West in 1904 and 1905. He was buried in Montreal.

1885, 1892: Alexander Henderson

Alexander Henderson (1831-1913), a Montreal competitor and Scottish emigré like William Notman, began his photographic career as an outstanding amateur with a keen technical and aesthetic grasp of a young visual medium. He devoted himself to photography as a business beginning in 1864 and his reputation eventually rivaled that of the Notman firm.

Among Henderson's clients from 1869 to 1878 were the Grand Trunk Railway and the Intercolonial Railway. The latter work was commissioned by none other than its chief engineer Sanford Fleming. Henderson was hired by the CPR in 1885 and was thus the company's second official photographer. The only surviving prints of his 1885 trip were taken in the Selkirk Mountains.

In 1892 Henderson was put on the CPR Company payroll as manager of the Photography Department. That summer he travelled to BC again as far as Vancouver, likely transported by Photographic Car No. 1 that had also served as William McFarlane Notman and Professor Buell's home and darkroom.

1886 Spring: J.A. Brock & Co./H.T. Devine

The firm J.A. Brock & Co. of Brandon, Manitoba, established a branch operation in Vancouver in April or May 1886. Newspapers announcements of the firm's official opening, however, did not appear until the first week of June. On June 13 a disastrous fire burned a good part of Vancouver to the ground.

The Brock & Co. negatives survived and today are treasured reminders of how the young city might have developed. Brock and his young apprentice, Harry Torkington Devine (1865-1938), busily set about recording the rebirth of Vancouver. Their before and after views of the fire continue to be published today, as does their most-published view showing the arrival of the first passenger train from Montreal on May 23, 1887.

1886 Summer: Edouard Deville, Surveyor General, Dominion Lands Survey

Edouard Gaston Deville (1849-1924) was appointed Surveyor General of the Dominion Lands Survey in March 1885. His main task was to ensure that the long and 20-mile-wide Railway Belt through the middle of which ran the CPR line was accurately surveyed. This posed a logistical and technical challenge in the mountains of BC. As a result of the numerous problems that were encountered in those initial survey years in BC, he refined a large-scale technique of photo-topographical surveying or photo-grammetry.

Deville was also an amateur photographer and on a tour of inspection to Victoria in the summer of 1886 he produced some excellent views of various points along the CPR. He also seemed to have an interest in the Chinese labourers and photographed a Chinese camp at Kamloops as well as Chinatown scenes in Victoria. The BC Archives preserves a single album of photographs from this trip.

1880s: Dr. E.B.C. Hannington, Yale, BC: Onderdonk's Company Physician

An amateur photographer and physician on Onderdonk's contracts, Dr. Hannington's role in documenting the construction along the Onderdonk contracts requires further research. His name was uncovered by Roger H. Boulet at the City of Vancouver Archives.

CPR Photography After the Last Spike

Photographs played an even more vital role in CPR promotional activities following the opening of the line from Montreal to Vancouver in May 1887. Vancouver-based photographers were particularly eager to stock a full range of views along the line. Newspapers frequently reported that the departure and return of these photographers and summarized their work Among the more important of the 19th century Vancouver photographers who documented the on-going evolution and improvement of the rail line were S.J. Thompson (1864-1929) and R.H. Trueman (1856-1911). Early Prairie photographers such as W. Hanson Boorne (Boorne & May) of Calgary and Bingham & Thom of Winnipeg also recorded Rocky and Selkirk Mountain scenery.

The CPR Company continued to assist photographers whose work it favoured with complimentary railway passes. Possibly among the last of the great BC railway photographers to obtain such a pass was R.H. Trueman; his is dated November 18, 1892, but was never used because his wife was ill and died in January 1893. The pass is illustrated in my Camera Workers (1985).

With airplanes and road transport today, it is easy to take for granted or even ignore the engineering accomplishments of the CPR Company. Only through photographs such as those created along "Onderdonk's Way", however, can we really begin to appreciate this bold thread of steel that first bound Canada together.


Berton, Pierre. The Last Spike. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1971.

Birrell, Andrew. Benjamin Baltzly: Photographs & Journal of an Expedition through British Columbia, 1871. Toronto: Coach House Press, 1978.

Birrell, Andrew J. "Classic Survey Photos of the Early West." Canadian Geographical Journal 91, no. 4 (October 1975): 12-19.

Birrell, Andrew. "Survey Photography in British Columbia, 1858-1900." BC Studies no. 52 (Winter 1981-82): 39-60.

Birrell, Andrew J. "The North American Boundary Commission: Three Photographic Expeditions, 1872-74." History of Photography 20, no. 2 (Summer 1996): 113-21.

Cavell, Edward. Journeys to the Far West. Toronto: James Lorimer & Co., 1979. Includes photos by Baltzly and Horetzky.

Chittenden, Newton H. Travels in British Columbia. Vancouver: Gordon Soules Book Publishers, 1984. Reprint of Settlers, Prospectors, and Tourists Guide, or, Travels Through British Columbia, 1882.

Hadley, Margery Tanner. "Photography, Tourism and the CPR: Western Canada, 1884-1914." In Essays on the Historical Geography of the Canadian West: Regional Perspectives on the Settlement Process, edited by L.A. Rosenvall and S.M. Evans. Calgary: Dept. of Geography, University of Calgary, 1987: 48-69, notes: 179-182. Based on her MA thesis, "Photography and the Landscape of Travel: Western Canada, 1884-1914." MA, University of Calgary, 1984.

Hart, E.J. The Selling of Canada: The CPR and the Beginnings of Canadian Tourism. Banff: Altitude Publishing, 1983.

Huyda, Richard. Camera in the Interior, 1858: H.L. Hime, Photographer: The Assiniboine and Saskatchewan Exploring Expedition. Toronto: Coach House Press, 1975.

Jackson, Christopher E. With Lens and Brush: Images of the Western Canadian Landscape, 1845-1890. Calgary: Glenbow Museum, 1989.

McKee, Bill and Klassen, Georgeen. Trail of Iron: The CPR and the Birth of the West, 1880-1930. Calgary: Glenbow-Alberta Institute; Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1983.

Mattison, David. Camera Workers: The British Columbia Photographers Directory, 1858-1900. Victoria, BC: Camera Workers Press, 1985. To order a copy, contact the author.

Mattison, David. "Photographing the Frontier: Frank Jay Haynes in Canada." Beaver 67, no. 3 (June-July 1987): 24-36.

Mattison, David. "Richard Maynard: Photographer of Victoria, B.C.," History of Photography 9, no. 2 (Apr.-June 1985): 109-129.

Mautz, Carl. Biographies of Western Photographers. Nevada City, Calif.: Carl Mautz Publishing, 1997. Massive compilation of data on photographers of the Western USA and Canada.

Monaghan, David W. Professor Oliver Buell (1844-1910), Photographer. Montreal: Concordia Art Gallery, 1984.

Naef, Weston J. and Wood, James N. Era of Exploration: The Rise of Landscape Photography in the American West, 1860-1885. Buffalo and New York, NY: Albright-Knox Art Gallery; Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1975.

Reid, Dennis. "Our Own Country Canada": Being An Account of the National Aspirations of the Principal Landscape Artists in Montreal and Toronto, 1860-1890. Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 1979.

Silversides, Brock V. Waiting for the Light: Early Mountain Photography in British Columbia and Alberta, 1865-1939. Saskatoon: Fifth House Publishers, 1995.

Smith, Gary D. D.R. Judkins: "A Photographer on Puget Sound." Journal of the West 26, no. 2 (Apr. 1987): 4-16.


Thank you to those unnamed who helped with this essay over the years by supplying research material. This essay is dedicated to the memory of fellow historian of the Northwest Coast, Charles "Red" Lillard (1944-1997).


Copyright © 1997 by David Mattison. Permission is granted by David Mattison for downloading and/or printing for personal reading. Any other use, including but not limited to links to transaction fee-based electronic transmission systems, requires permission of David Mattison.

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