MP-1979.155.374 | Firefighters at fire, Montreal harbour, QC, about 1920

Firefighters at fire, Montreal harbour, QC, about 1920
Anonyme - Anonymous
About 1920, 20th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on paper - Gelatin silver process
11 x 15 cm
Gift of Mr. John L. Russell
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  disaster (45) , fire (16) , firefighter (6) , group (644) , History (944) , history (162) , hose (4) , Photograph (77678) , work (126)
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Keys to History

Nothing escaped the photographer's lens. Historic events--world conflicts, coronations, scientific discoveries--and daily events--accidents, fires, various record-setting achievements--were reported side by side on the pages of the main newspapers and illustrated magazines of the period. The emergence of the modern illustrated press in the 1920s transformed one's perception of the contemporary world. From that point on, the world was conquered by pictures. Anything could be, and was, photographed--fires, especially, with their spectacular aspects yielding shocking images. Sensationalist photos attracted thrill-seeking readers. Well before television, photography provided a visual record of tragic events.

  • What

    This picture respects the golden rules of photojournalism. The general view not only allows the main event to be identified clearly, but also includes a great deal of information about this fire in particular.

  • Where

    This fire, which broke out in the port of Montreal, was a real spectacle, as can be seen by the gawkers in the foreground. The publication of the photo in the illustrated press attracted even more spectators.

  • When

    Fires, and sensational stories in general, received a great deal of coverage in the twenties, when tabloids proliferated. Originally a tabloid was a newspaper about half regular size, but today the term conjures up a kind of sensationalist illustrated journalism.

  • Who

    In the 1920s, some publications intentionally illustrated their stories with lots of photos in an effort to appeal to a working-class readership more interested in the truthfulness commonly attributed to photography than in written accounts of events.