MP-1974.133.151 | Charles H. Millar and son Ivan with camera, Drummondville, QC, 1890 (?)

Charles H. Millar and son Ivan with camera, Drummondville, QC, 1890 (?)
Annie McDougall
Probably 1890, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
12 x 10 cm
Gift of Mr. Leslie Millar
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  informal (1120) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
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Keys to History

The coming together of the sciences of optics and chemistry, photography is a hallmark of the 19th century. The first recorded photograph is taken by Nicéphore Niepce of France in 1827. His invention is quickly followed by the metal printing plate of Jacques Daguerre (1839), the glass printing plate (1851), dry emulsions (1853) and, in 1888, rolls of film, developed by George Eastman, of Rochester, New York, who also gives us the Kodak camera.

Photography makes possible what before was only a dream: to capture images of the past. Canadians take to photography immediately, although its expense puts photography beyond the means of all but the most wealthy. In Montreal, William Notman, a photographer of Scottish origin who opens a studio on Bleury Street in 1866, captures the many faces of the city in his photographs. He helps to popularize the art of photography and to paint a picture of Canadian society in the Victorian era. Some 400,000 of his photographs are acquired many years later by the McCord Museum, where they are conserved as the Notman Collection.

Photography now has many uses. It, along with fingerprinting, a process developed in 1877 by the Englishman William Herschel to ensure that pensioners from the Bengal army did not try to claim their pension benefits twice-over, is used to this day to identify people.

Source : Brand New and Wonderful: The Rise of Technology [Web tour], by Jacques G. Ruelland, Université de Montréal (see Links)

  • What

    In the 1890s, photography became a very popular hobby among those who can afford it. Many people buy themselves a camera.

  • Where

    It is in the United States, that George Eastman invented the rolls of film and the Kodak camera.

  • When

    In 1888 the first portable cameras are developed. The camera owned by Charles H. Millar that is visible in this photographic plate is a recent model of the period.

  • Who

    At the end of the 19th century, having a photograph taken of oneself or taking one's own pictures is beyond the means of all but the most wealthy individuals.