Fonds Number: 375
Title: Fairbairn Photographs
Creator: J. [Jack] M.R. Fairbairn; H. [Hannah] L. Fairbairn; possibly others.
Dates of Material: 1892-1905
Physical Description: 189 plate glass negatives; approx. 3.5 Hollinger boxes
Scope and Contents: The collection contains a total of 189 plate glass negatives, most of which measure approximately 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 collection 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 other 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 other 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).
Access Conditions: Open to researchers.
Finding Aids: Available on site.
Accruals: None expected.
Custodial History: The collection was donated to the Archives in June of 2013 by Blair MacKenzie of Lakefield.
Preservation: 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 news 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.
Processing Notes: The collection was examined, sorted, and described in June of 2013 by Elwood Jones and Matthew Griffis.