The Heritage Corner, Springhill Record

October 5th, 2011


Years ago residents and transient photographers did a flourishing business in Springhill.  Most people had pictures taken of family groups, wedding groups and grandma and grandpa. 

     When having your picture taken in the “good old days” it was dreaded because you had to hold the pose for quite a long time.  A clamp was used to hold the head of a child still and by the time the picture was taken the child would be on the verge of tears so they didn’t get too many happy faces. 

     Wedding pictures usually had the groom seated with the bride standing behind the chair with her hand on his shoulder.  The young boys were usually dressed in sailor suits and wore straw hats on the back of their heads.

     O’Donald’s Photographic Studio was located in the Leadbetter Building on Main Street.  It was destroyed by fire in 1895.

    F.G. Taylor, Photographer, operated his business on Elm Street.  An ad in the Springhill Advertiser in 1895 read: “Taylor” - $3.50 for portrait + Advertiser, quick sales, small profits.

     Another early photographer was Charles M. Willett who was located on the corner of Main and Church Streets.

     Pictures were taken when Rice’s Railroad Photo Car was in town, down near the station.  It was operated by Lewis Rice. Rice made photos in all the latest styles and with the most artistic effects.  A 16x 20 portrait was given free with every dozen cabinet photos finished in plantino (containing or resembling platinum) or enamel. His specialty was flashlight photos of clubs, social gatherings and family groups, which was probably why the town had so many pictures taken at that time. One of the poses that were popular was a group of young men seated at a table.  They would be holding poker hands and, with the chips on the table, cigars in the mouths and their peabouncers pushed back on their heads thought themselves quite daring.  Rice charged $1.15 per photo for Boer War Vets.

    J. R. McLean had his studio above Morris Anderson’s Jewelry store (later Ernest Munroe’s).  The entrance to the studio was beside the Jeweller’s; one ascended an outside covered stairway.

     Other early photographers were: J.D. Morrell, Ross Fraser; D.R. Pridham; D.S. Reid; and Gordon MacDonald.

     Watson Weaver was born in Massachusetts and at the age of three accompanied his family to Wallace River and later to Springhill where he went to school and later opened a small stationary and photography shop.  Watson spent his later years as a peddler and, having a natural bent for photography, would take photographs during his travels and sell the prints to his customers.  These photographs were his most popular items.

     John Cliffe, who was born in Springhill, was also a great photographer for 35 years.  He was the only photographer who was allowed to take pictures in the mines.

     Kaye Pettigrew perfected her profession as a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force.  Following discharge she opened “Springhill Foto and Gallery” on Main Street where she maintained a studio, sold photographic supplies, framed and other graphic arts.

     Clarence Wright operated a private photographic enterprise out of his home on Starr Street.

      Carl Davies operated out of his home and also served as photographer for the Springhill Record.  He later left Springhill and in 1997 moved to Penticton, B.C.

     Duane Beaton purchased the equipment from the Springhill Foto and Gallery and operated his business from his home.

     Donald Fraser is known for his wedding photography.

     With the invention of the video camera Amos (Junior) Gogan started making video of weddings and other events around town and continues that business today.