the importance of being a photographer

Yonge St looking North from Temperance in Toronto c1903

Toronto. The internet, streaming services, and television have a voracious appetite for videos. A century or so ago it was magazines and newspapers with the heavy appetites for still images and drawings.

Any time before 1839, your ancestor had to have deep pockets indeed (or live in a ritzy area) to have any chance at all of a landscape painting or a good likeness by a competent artist. The longer photography was around, the cheaper and more popular it became . Many streetscapes, nature shots, and portraits were taken by professionals. In time, most folk had a family snapshot enthusiast who snapped family events, portraits, or perhaps even workplace photos.

After photography became commonplace, it was possible for most descendants to see where their ancestors lived or what looked like or even how they earned a living! An amazing change in an era of such rapid changes in travel, communication, education and entertainment.

Before its ill fated report was released, Google’s Sidewalk Labs collaborated with the City of Toronto Archives to produce an amazing website showing both vintage photographs and the date and location in Toronto where they were taken.

My thanks to our sports photographer, author, past PHSC president (and more), Les JonesĀ  for sharing this tidbit of history with me. Old TO by Sidewalk Labs is a truly great website to browse around. What’s in your neighbourhood?

NOTE: The post title is a riff on the 1895 Oscar Wilde play called, “The Importance of Being Ernest“. (A favourite play of my Wife’s when she was a school girl.)

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