Canadian, eh?

Karsh from May 1945 issue of Popular Photography

Toronto. For the most part, Canada is a nation of immigrants. When I was a kid, we were part of the British commonwealth (to the dismay of Quebecers).* Many of us could trace our roots back to the UK or Europe.

We are all familiar with the famous shot of Churchill by Yousuf Karsh of Ottawa. His portraits are world  famous and hang in museums and art houses world wide. Like most of us in Canada, he was an immigrant. Karsh was born of Armenian parents in the Ottoman Empire (it is now an area in Turkey).

He was sent to Canada to avoid death in the Armenian genocide (see Jamie Day Fleck’s excellent film titled ‘Photos by Kirk‘) and landed in Sherbrooke Quebec with an uncle who was a portrait photographer. He was first taught photography by his uncle before moving to Boston for further lessons and employment by the Armenian photographer John Garo.

In the early 1930s, Karsh moved to Ottawa, Ontario. His iconic portrait of Churchill in 1941 during WW2 was the start of his world wide recognition as a top notch portrait photographer.

A few years ago, PHSC member and serious photography collector, Shelton Chen of Hit Camera here in the big smoke published his coffee table book of Karsh portraits.

PHSC Member and good friend, George Dunbar, happened across this 22 page article in the May, 1945 issue of Popular Photography and shared it with us for all to see. The story of Karsh begins on page 19.

*We have our own flag and constitution now, but we still share the Queen with England. Her representative here is the Governor General – and for many years, each one appointed has been a Canadian citizen.

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