National Archives sign at Kew Gardens Station

National Archives sign at Kew Gardens Station


British Columbia 1885 photo mystery: O.C. Hastings & G.M. Dawson photos

Posted the following on the Yahoo! Groups PhotoHistory this morning (January 19, 2010), as well as to my David Mattison blog and this blog:

I was sent two scans from a UK individual that are most intriguing and currently pose a photo mystery. Here's what I know so far based on the photos themselves, archival descriptions and digitized, published content freely accessible to me.

In 1885 the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) geologist Dr. George Mercer Dawson visited northern Vancouver Island and environs, including Alert Bay on Cormorant Island. He took a few photos at Alert Bay in early August 1885 that are described on the Library and Archives Canada Web site as part of the GSC records it preserves. The Royal BC Museum has copy prints of at least three of the Dawson photos, including the two images I was sent.

The mystery is that the scans I was sent show both the Dawson photos on a cabinet card mount with the markings, front and back, of Victoria commercial photographer O.C. Hastings. My supposition is that Hastings processed Dawson's negatives as Dawson, according to his GSC report, once he returned to Victoria remained there for about three weeks working on preparations for the Colonial and Indian Exhibition that was held in London, England, in 1886.

I've uploaded one of the Dawson / Hastings photos to Camera Workers at\nkID=368

What I'm hoping to find is evidence in a diary or correspondence of Dawson that he purposefully allowed Hastings to market his photos. Some of Dawson's personal records are at McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, and his GSC field notebooks and correspondence are at the Library and Archives Canada.

If anyone on this group can research this on my behalf  I'd be happy to reciprocate with research in archival records here in Victoria, BC.

As a followup, I wrote that I'd discovered that Dawson's fieldbooks are available on microfilm at the Library and Archives and that I'd arrange to borrow the reel (C-4845) that covered his 1885 work.

Here is the photo in question:

Anglican mission church, Alert Bay, BC, August 1885

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