Photography developed steadily throughout the nineteenth century in
In the 1850s and 1860s there was a renaissance in photographic activity in Montréal. One of the most successful firms was that of William Notman (1826-1891), an émigré from
Notman’s oldest son, William McFarlane, became a partner in the business at the age of 15. He was already an accomplished photographer. In 1884, at the age of 17, William McFarlane made his first of eight trips across
This photograph comes from William McFarlane’s third trip west from 1889 to 1890. On that trip he took his younger brother George as an assistant. In contrast to his more famous dramatic landscapes, this intimate portrait of a member of the Blackfoot First Nation has the quiet dignity and respect that marked the portraits of his father. Notman saw his images of Indians as documents of a vanishing way of life, and therefore valuable historical records. When the Notman studio closed in the early twentieth century, over 400,000 photographs, many of them from William McFarlane’s expeditions, went into the collection of the Musée McCord at McGill University, Montréal.
The Sherman Hines Photography Museum,