my dad’s camera

Kodak Junior SIX-20
1935-1937 Model

Toronto. When my father went west to Saskatchewan to help with the harvest as a youth, he took with him a box camera that he used to record life on the prairies. On the way home, the little camera was lost – dad thought it was left on the train at some point.  In the late 1930s when I struggled into this strange world, dad felt a need once again to photograph family events. He bought a Kodak folder called the Kodak Junior Six-20.

After each use, the camera was always returned to its box and carefully placed in the top drawer of the buffet in the living room. This version of the SIX-20 was only made from 1935-1937 according to McKeown’s. The first picture I saw from it was a picture of me a few months old sitting on my grandmother’s lap.

This camera was a big step up for dad. It had a fancier Doublet lens with apertures from f/11 to f/32, (no click stops) and a No. 0 KODON shutter with settings T, B, 1/25th, 1/50th, and 1/100th of a second. A big jump from the box camera’s fixed aperture and “T” and “I” shutter (about 1/25th in”I” for instantaneous setting).

In spite of this new flexibility, the slow films of the day precluded the camera’s use beyond outdoors  during bright days unless special steps were taken to increase the lighting indoors. The camera has an unused 1/4 inch tripod thread and an unused cable release screw. I can still see my dad standing over his camera squinting in the viewfinder and carefully squeezing off the shutter to add to our family history. Film and prints were relatively expensive in the 1930s – 1950s so the camera still looks like new today.

While the plate affixed to it’s bed says “Made in Canada” it was more likely  “assembled” in Canada from parts made in Rochester and sent across the lake to Kodak Heights just north of the city (mid-city today) in Mount Denis. Customs duties of the day were less if assembly was completed here. The little instruction booklet includes a catalogue and a note pasted on page one stating  “prices on some articles do not apply in Canada“.

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