Photography - McCord Museum
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Collections and Research

Alexander Henderson, Spring inundation, near Montreal, about 1865. MP-0000.308.5 © McCord Museum

Photography

The Photography collection encompasses over 2.1 million images that primarily document the social history of Montreal, but also that of Quebec and Canada. Its holdings range from daguerreotypes created in the 1840s to contemporary digital images.
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The Notman Photographic Archives form the core of the collection with some 400,000 photographs from the Montreal studio founded in 1856 by William Notman (1826-1891) and run by his sons until 1935.

From glass negatives and original prints to stereograms, composites and painted photographs, these images record Canada’s growth in the latter half of the 19th century, Montreal’s leading role in the country’s social and economic development, westward expansion, and the construction of the transcontinental railway. The Notman Photographic Archives are listed on UNESCO’s Canada Memory of the World Register.

The collection also contains thousands of photographs grouped in albums, series and portfolios, created by professionals, amateurs and artists. It is a rich source of vernacular photography and images of Indigenous people.

In addition, the Museum holds a number of cameras and accessories that illustrate technical developments in photography, along with viewing devices like stereoscopes, magic lanterns and modern projectors that were or are used in Canada.

  • William Notman, Register, Picture Book No. 8, 1863. N-0000.1956.1.8 © McCord Museum
  • Gabor Szilasi, <i>Mr. and Mrs. Adrien Ouellette, (Louise Labbé), Saint-Joseph de Beauce</i>, 1973. Gift of Gabor Szilasi, MP-1976.16.21 © McCord Museum
  • William Hanson Boorne, <i>Astokumi and woman, Tsuu T'ina, near Calagry</i>, 1885. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. T. E. Stevenson, MP-1973.49.3.14 © McCord Museum
  • Unknown photographer, <i>The Dawes Children</i>, about 1850, daguerreotype. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Dawes, MP-0000.427.1 © McCord Museum
  • Alexander Henderson, <i>Spring inundation, near Montreal</i>, about 1865. MP-0000.308.5 © McCord Museum
  • Alexander Henderson, <i>Bird's eye view of Seminary gardens, Montreal</i>, about 1870. MP-0000.10.170 © McCord Museum
  • Harry Sutcliffe, <i>Beaver Lake in Mount Royal park, Montreal</i>, about 1939. Gift of Peter, Paul, Robert and Carolyn Sutcliffe, M2011.2.3.177 © McCord Museum

The Standard Life – Notman Fund provides annual financing for the care and diffusion of the Notman Collection.

Zoë Tousignant

Zoë joined the McCord Museum in 2022. Her research has focussed on examining print culture as a vital form of dissemination for photography; retracing the networks of people and institutions that constitute the field of visual culture; and elucidating the affective bonds created by photographs and photographic practice.

Meet curator Zoë Tousignant and learn more about her expertise and her work.
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Not to be missed!

100 Years Young

The year 2021 marks the Museum's centenary. Discover its history, as well as the exhibitions and cultural events on the program.

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