© McCord Museum
Baptism certificate (true copy), Charles Frederick Notman
1951, 20th century
Ink on paper
35 x 22 cm
Gift of Mrs Virginia Hase
© McCord Museum
Charles Notman (1870-1955), the youngest son of William Notman, was born in Montreal in 1870. He was the only one of three sons to be placed in an apprenticeship outside of Canada. After finishing high school at age 18, Charles was sent to the Park Street studio in Boston in 1888. The following summer, he worked as an assistant to his brother William McFarlane Notman (1857-1913) who was then making his third journey west along the Canadian Pacific Railway. Charles resumed his work in Boston before returning to the Montreal studio on the death of his father in late-1891. Named a junior partner by his brother William in 1894, Charles' talent and reputation as a portrait photographer would flourish over the years, solidifying the status of the Montreal Notman studio as a leader in its field.
Between his appointment as partner in 1894 and the sale of the studio in 1935, Charles would become the sole owner of the company (following his brother's death in 1913) and pioneer numerous advances in the field of photography. This period, in and of itself, merits a more detailed study.
As his retirement neared, Charles likely found it hard to run a competitive business, particularly in the midst of an economic crisis. The 1934 death of William Haggerty, Charles' right-hand man, may also have influenced his decision to sell the company and its collection of 400,000 prints and negatives - representing 78 years of photography - to Associated Screen News. After the sale, Charles stayed on as the studio's director and vice-president.