good grief – it’s spring fair time again!

Spring Photographica-Fair
May 27 2018

Toronto. For over forty years we have hosted the spring photograpica-fair – the BIG ONE! Click on the icon at left to see the poster with full details. Need a map to get there? Then click HERE and see the book mark for our spring fair in the south-west end of the city. SUNDAY MAY 27, 2018!

The poster and bookmark you see were designed by our newsletter editor, Sonja Pushchak. Enjoy them  and print them! All are welcome to this edition of our show – free parking, tasty pirogies, and lots of bargains. It doesn’t get any better!

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Bourke-White flogs RCA Projection-TV in 1949

Bourke-White sells RCA-
Victor TV in this August
1949 LIFE magazine ad

Toronto. After the war ended in 1945, our main source of information remained newspapers and radio. No TV, no internet, Nada. We played board games, bought magazines, and read books. The exciting thing was the imminent arrival of TV in Canada! Our first TV stations began to broadcast in 1952 while those who lived along the border could watch American TV a few years earlier. This was at a time when the vast majority of photographs were still black & white.

In the 1940s, Margaret Bourke-White was a well known LIFE magazine photographer. To emphasize the resolution and detail in the black and white projection televisions, marketeers used celebrities as spokespeople. And who better to assure everyone that RCA Victor projection-TV was sharp and clear but a world-famous photographer? In spite of the ads, in August 1949, TV was monochrome, low resolution, small screen, and expensive – about 8x more than a good console radio set.

To get a larger image than that offered by a 9 inch or 12 inch (diagonal) cathode ray tube (CRT), one had to spring for a projection set using a higher intensity, smaller CRT projecting the image on a screen.  While still larger than a CRT, the projection screen is like a slide show but much smaller, using back projection so the projection tube is hidden.

By the 1960s, CRTs were reliably made in larger sizes, making the fussy projection sets impractical and they faded into history in spite of photographer-promoted ads a decade earlier. Need a video today? Wait ’til I get my smartphone 🙂

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embrace the negative

using the light table – J P Moczulski

Toronto. Yesterday in “tools of the trade” I commented on darkroom needs for film. To my delight, Saturday morning’s Globe featured an article on discovering the virtues of film and chemistry once again. The article by Kate Taylor “introduces her son to old-fashioned film-and-chemical photography – and returns to the slow joy of analog”. Along the way the article is illustrated by some Ryerson students shot by J.P. MOCZULSKI and other photos by  our past speaker, ROBERT BURLEY (type his last name in our site’s Search box on the top right of the page to see a list of references to Robert Burley).

Oh, yes, and at our photographica-fair being held in a week (Sunday, May 27th) you can find many items suitable for film processing. Drop by and see! Lots of parkings and students with ID get in for free …

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tools of the trade

A 1980 film darkroom

Toronto. In  this era of digital photography we need a computer and printer (and what house doesn’t  have at least one of each) to “process” and print the digital images. Not so in the recently departed film era.

The film had to be developed and then printed – usually with an enlarger, timer, thermometer, darkroom trays, safelight (if B&W), easel, and perhaps a focussing aid. And most homes DID NOT have a darkroom and enlarger, etc., etc.

Only professionals and dedicated amateurs possessed the necessary darkroom. Others resorted to community darkrooms (usually camera clubs) or used commercial services. As a youth, I used a high school camera club darkroom, later building my own. The photo here shows my set up in the fall of 1980. To save money I bought 8×10 photographic paper and cut it to a smaller size either before, or as shown, after exposure and processing in a drum (Colour) or trays (B&W).

The enlarger was a Durst M35, the top of the line 35mm enlarger featuring all the details noted by Gilbert Durst in Italy. The enlarger takes colour filters which I kept in a Rollei slide box and tray (2.25 in square slides). I used a Variac and a “true RMS” iron vane meter to keep the voltage to the enlarger bulb constant (Toronto power seemed okay but Montreal in the 1960s and 1970s had terribly unreliable voltage levels).

The Gralab timer was modified with a fuse, relay, start button, etc. The Heathkit Colorval was also modified to have a digital binary timer built-in to match the enlarging lens f/stop settings. The timer uses a 555 timer chip and a tantalum capacitor to control the chip. Switches and resistors determined the exposure time of 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, or 32 seconds (using two or more switches gives 1 to 63 seconds in 1 second intervals for the truly anal).  I made all the modifications at home.

The inexpensive pictures in an hour shops pretty much eliminated home darkroom colour processing other than for those who wanted to crop or enlarge to a size bigger than the 4×6 or 5×7 prints of the commercial shops like Eddie Black’s or Japan Camera.

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photographs of those at work

c1937 BTC operators
in Owen Sound. Click for link

Toronto. For some reason old photos tend to be portraits, landscapes, family or other events but rarely work tools and activities. The photo at left of Bell Telephone Company operators in Owen Sound Ontario is an exception. It shows the ladies at their positions ready to connect a local customer on one line to another local customer on a different line, or occasionally via long distance (toll) to a customer in another town/village/jurisdiction, etc. The photo appears on page 7 in our most recent PHSC News in Louise Freyburger’s  column entitled WebLinks.

The photo struck a cord with me. It was taken the same year as I began life; I began work in Barrie in the newly formed Toll Area; I have worked as far as Owen Sound; an aunt, who was once as a young girl an operator in Toronto, in later years managed an independent telephone company in Hawkestone, just north of Barrie; and I too took many work related photographs over the years like this photo of c1960 long distance (toll) operators in Midland after the town was converted to dial service for local calls.

After the war, there was a big effort to upgrade smaller communities to dial service relieving operators from the task of connecting local calls manually. The war created a pent-up demand for telephone service well beyond the capacity of any existing local infrastructure. And Bell Telephone worked hard to absorb the smaller independents, even establishing  a district devoted to their needs. Technicians working in the Toll Area visited many of the small independents, fixing minor technical issues for them.


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Dundas Street and the Queen’s Rangers

Queen’s Rangers 1795
drawing by C W Jeffrys
click for poster

Toronto. Joy Cohnstaedt of Lambton House announced the other day that “LCol Phil Halton, CD of the Queens’s York Rangers” will speak at their Thursday, June 14th, meeting on “Dundas Street and the Queen’s Rangers”.

Lambton House is at 4066 Old Dundas St in York (now part of Toronto). You can take the TTC bus #55 From Jane Subway right to the door. Doors open at 7 pm and the talk starts 30 minutes later. There are refreshments and admission is free although a donation is always appreciated.

When I was in school, a history book used a C.W. Jefferys drawing to show Samuel de Champlain looking out over Georgian Bay. By his side was a rifle – actually an arquebus – with a seemingly square and very awkward rifle stock. My grand-parents had their 60th wedding anniversary party in Orillia – near a statue celebrating the famous French explorer.

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of cameras and kings

Oliva and Elzira Dionne 1935
photo by Fred Davis

Toronto. Over a century ago, in 1872, “Lewis Carroll” (an amateur photographer, too)  wrote a poem called The Walrus and The Carpenter which includes these lines:

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–

And in the spring of 1934 Canada had its own royalty – the famous Dionne Quintuplets were born on a farm in Northern Ontario just outside the town of Callander. The five identical baby girls were born to a French-Canadian farming couple and were famous as the very first quints to survive to adulthood. Continue reading

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film and cinema in East Toronto and the Beach

Family theatre in the Beach
Click for poster and details

Toronto. Les Jones reminded me that the well known film historian and newspaper columnist Bernie Fletcher will be speaking tonight at the Beaches Library, 2161 Queen St East, at 7 pm. Anyone who has lived in this city remembers the Beach and its charming stores along Queen. The library is in the Beaches Park on the south side of Queen, just west of Lee and east of Waverley. Talk is free courtesy of (The Beach and East Toronto Historical Society).

Les and the late Robert Gutteridge were members of the PHSC. Robert wrote Magic Moments, about the first two decades of moving pictures in Toronto (1894-1914). Robert was a cinema historian who unfortunately died before he could address the more recent history of movies here. His extensive collection moved to Montreal and PHSC member Francois LeMai, another cinema historian.

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the Noronic disaster of 1949

Noronic Fire Toronto 1949

Toronto. In 1913, the CSL commissioned a new passenger ship, the SS Noronic. The ship was built in Port Arthur, Ontario (now Thunder Bay) at the lakehead (western shore of Lake Superior in Canada). On a fateful day in September 1949, the ship embarked from Detroit, MI on a seven day pleasure cruise of Lake Ontario. The ship docked at pier 9 in Toronto the evening of the 16th. In the early hours 0f September 17th, 1949, smoke from a fire on board was spotted by a passenger and the alarm raised.

Over 100 passengers died that terrible night. Estimates range from 118 to 139 deaths – the number never determined with any precision. One of the first photographers on the scene was Nelson Quarrington of the Toronto Telegram.  His photograph made the LIFE magazine’s September 26, 1949 issue – on the newsstands about a week later. The Noronic never sailed again – or left city under its own steam.

My thanks to George Dunbar who reminded me of this disaster that shook our city when I was a chid of 12. We always bought the Telegram in those days so the disaster story and pictures arrived at our home promptly that Saturday.

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PHSC News 18-1 for May 2018

Vlog Tripod –
smartphone, lights, mic

Toronto. As we come to the start of this fiscal year, News editor Sonja Pushchak has released the first of this year’s tasty pdf newsletters.  The front page is titled Fit Necessity – replacing the strenuous jobs of over a century ago with exercises and the evolution of printing and photography to distribute the exercises to the masses.

Page 2 reviews our speaker for this month, Dr Anthony Bannon and his topic “The Taking of Niagara: Photography at the Falls”.

The column Photo Book 101 addresses a few of the various cases and mats in the mid 1800s. Photos with Fix addresses the topic of Softening the Science of Photography, while Equipment Review covers the tale of Eyeballing the Magnetic Kodak Retina.

This issue wraps up with a couple more columns, announcements of PHSC events, and the Classifieds. 11 pages of delightful and thought provoking reading. Click here or the icon of the Gorilla Pod to read or print.

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The Taking of Niagara: Photography at the Falls

Dr Anthony Bannon

Toronto. PHSC Meeting, Wed, May 16, 2018 at 7:00 pm
In the BURGUNDY ROOM of the Memorial Hall

The Taking of Niagara – Dr Tony Bannon
“Quite possibly the most photographed site in history, The Falls is a wonder of the world, an icon of three nations, and a fine place for personal unions and separations, facts and fictions. Dr Anthony Bannon, photo critic, historian and institutional leader, will share new research in preparation for a new book and exhibition on The Great Cascade and Cataract.” Dr Bannon has had a wealth of experience over the years, including being the seventh director of the George Eastman Museum! Check out the link above for some more fascinating details, then join us on the 16th to hear Dr Bannon in person.

The public is always welcome. Go to our Programs page for directions.

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