Fairbairn Photographs Fonds F375

B; G D4; A Q4 (Series 6)

Date of the items: 1892-1905

Physical description: 189 plate glass negatives; approx. 3.5 Hollinger boxes

Title: Fairbairn Photographs Fonds

Creator: J. [Jack] M.R. Fairbairn; H. [Hannah] L. Fairbairn; possibly others

Repository: Trent Valley Archives

Reference number: TVA Fonds 375

Scope and contents: The fonds consists of a total of 189 plate glass negatives, most of which measure approximately 12.7×17.7 cm [5″ x 7″]. These were created by at least 3 different photographers between 1892 and 1905 at various locations in Peterborough County, Alberta, and British Columbia. The collection contains many culturally significant pieces, including views of work on the Trent Severn Waterway ca. 1900, views of Stoney Lake and Juniper Point, and portraits of prominent Peterboronians and their homes in the 1890s and early 1900s.

The first accession is divided into five series:

Series A, “Surveying Series” and “Beaverton”: Contains 17 negatives dating from 1900-01 and is divided into two sub-series. “Surveying Series” includes views of surveying and mining work at Cardston, AB and Greenwood, BC. “Beaverton” contains views of lakes, houses, mills, churches, and stores in or around Beaverton, ON.

Series B, “Trent Valley Canal Building”: Contains 21 negatives dating from 1900-01. Includes views of workers and surveyors, horses, and machinery at different locations along the Peterborough County portion of the Trent Severn Waterway.

Series C, “Stoney Lake”: Contains 61 negatives, some dating from 1900-01 and others dating from 1985-96. Views include Juniper Point (and “Juniper Lodge”), Sheriff Hall’s cottage, canoes at Eels Creek, Jack’s Creek, Grubbe’s Island, Julien’s Landing, Devil’s Elbow, Indian River, McCraken’s Landing, and more. Some images taken in Westmount, Quebec.

Series D, “Peterborough Houses”: Contains 72 negatives, some dating from around 1893-94 and others from around 1905-07. Includes views of Merino, Cordach, Hazelbrae, Idyl Wyld, John Robertson’s house on Bonaccord St., the side yard of what is today 361 Park Street, and others.

Series E, “Portraits: Jack Fairbairn et al”: Contains 18 negatives, most of them undated. One from 1893. The subseries “Jack Fairbairn as a Little Boy” includes formal portraits of Jack Fairbairn Jr. as an infant and even a view of him only a few days after his birth. Other views include some of the Fairbairns “at Hermitage” as well as two images of a Mrs. MacFarlane.

There is reason to believe that, in some cases at least, the dates written on the original envelopes were applied much later. For instance, D42 and D46 were more than likely taken the same day since the views are nearly identical, and nearly all items in the photos match. Yet each was given a different year (1903 and 1905).

An accrual was received in November of 2014

Accession 2 consists of:

Series F: Glass Plates
Series G: Negatives
Series H: Studio portraits by Peterborough photographers G. B. Sproule, G. E. Whiten and P. H. Green taken between about 1885 and 1900.

The second accrual consists primarily of prints and photographs.

Access Conditions: No Restrictions

Finding aid: See separate file listing in Excel.

Accruals: Possible

Custodial history: The collection was donated to the Archives by Blair MacKenzie of Lakefield in June of 2013. The second accrual was donated by Blair MacKenzie in November of 2014

Preservation Note: Series A through E of the collection arrived in two wooden boxes with hinged lids. Each negative was enclosed in its original brown paper envelope. They were extracted, one by one, from the paper envelopes, given a careful dusting, examined, and then placed inside new, archival enclosures. Original envelopes have been fastened to the new ones.

Most negatives are in remarkable condition given their age and fragility. Damage is minimal; however, many negatives have small emulsion digs and tears; some have corners missing, and at least three negatives have been cracked in two. Nearly all negatives have slight fingerprint damage; tests reveal, however, that this fingerprint damage normally does not show when the images are digitized.

Biographical sketch: John Morrice Roger Fairbairn, known as Jack, was born in 1873 in Peterborough to parents Thomas McCullough Fairbairn and Jane Roger. He graduated in Applied Science from the University of Toronto, and spent most of his career travelling the country. In the early part of his career, he worked as a surveyor and engineer in the North West Territories, Kasko and Greenwood, B.C., Winnipeg, and Beaverton and Toronto, Ontario; in the latter part of his career, he was the chief engineer at CPR in Montreal from 1918 until his retirement in 1939. During the Second World War, he went out of retirement to serve as the Director of Works and Buildings for the Department of National Defence in Ottawa. In 1898, while working in Revelstoke, B.C., Jack married Hannah Louise MacFarlane, who was born in 1874 in Staneybrae/Acton Vale, Bagot, Quebec to parents Thomas MacFarlane and Margaret Skelly. Her and Jack would go on to have four children, three girls (Isabel, Jean, Elizabeth) and a son (Jack Jr.).

Related fonds at TVA: See F372 Fairbairn Family for more materials relating to the Fairbairn family.

Access Points:
Trent Severn Waterway
Peterborough, Ontario
Beaverton, Ontario
Stoney Lake
Juniper Point
Eel’s Creek
Grubbe’s Island
Indian River
Hazel Brae
Idyl Wyld
John Morrice Roger Fairbairn
Hannah MacFarlane Fairbairn

List of Files