Delores Gubasta on Don Newlands Archive – review

Delores Gubasta with some Don Newlands prints

Toronto. Our second speaker at the October 2017 meeting was Ms Delores Gubasta. Delores, owner of the web site Klixpix, spoke and showed examples of photographs taken over a half century earlier by Don Newlands. She spoke tonight about the Don Newlands photographs and how she was introduced to Newlands near the end of his life when he lived in Cobourg. 

The first Newlands photograph she saw was one he took of Pierre Trudeau rowing to Cuba. The 150th anniversary edition of PhotoEd magazine featured an article by Delores and the Trudeau- Cuba-boat photograph.

She was at Time magazine in NYC at the time doing photo research for them. Don Newman offered some of his work for that research. Don spoke of doing a book on the history of Canadian photography which never came to fruition (such a book did get published  – Canadian Photography 1839-1920  – by the Coach House Press, but its authors were Ralph Greenhill and Andrew Birrell both of whom worked for government organizations. The book is based on Greenhill’s 1965 book Early Photography in Canada.

Delores used both a slide show based on her website and physical prints of Newlands photographs, some of which she had especially digitally printed for this presentation.  As an archivist and agent she is responsible for selling selected photographs. She pulled together a retrospective of his work around 2005 while he was alive. The show was mostly black and white prints with some quick scans of his colour transparencies .

She covered his career as he moved from Montreal to MacLean’s magazine were he became their chief photographer and photo editor. As such, he was a mentor to people like John Reid back in the 1970s when photo-journalism was a dying art and sharp portrait work began to take its place.  She mentioned Newlands’ wife Colleen and his like of fast cars.

After the formal presentation, Delores moved over to the selection of prints she brought with her, discussing each one, noting that Newlands was equally at home with both the average person and the famous.

She began with his Niagara Falls series, moving on to the Quebec prints she made from Newlands’ transparencies. He was very fond of taking street scenes to show the issues of the day. A Black Star photographer, Newlands favoured quirky shots showing the cars, places, homes, shacks, etc., using colour to pull each print together.

Delores was rather casual in her presentation, bringing with her a wide variety of interesting prints and many anecdotes about Newlands. The prints and transparencies had been stored by Newlands in a damp, mouldy basement. Delores took the Ryerson courses on preservation to clean up, restore, and document them, especially his Black Star photographs. Newlands’ work documents the transition of Quebec from its religious roots to the modern secular era.  A few prints illustrate photographs taken with a fish-eye lens – a new concept at the time they were taken.

Newlands made  a lot of money with photography – he had many corporate customers. He did good political shots (especially of Trudeau)  as well as famous singers (Hawkins, Peterson). Newlands travelled all over Canada and USA.

At one point Newlands took a clandestine film of a private royal dinner (Queen Elizabeth and the French President) which he rushed off to Paris Match sight unseen. The magazine promptly selected shots and published them. Although he had requested the film be returned, it never was.

There was a good Q&A with Delores after her presentation. She has some 25,000 35mm slides, 10,000 B&W prints, and a few negatives. A lot of deterioration has happened over the years. She would like to find a home for the collection, but the preferred places lacked funds.  And sadly for her, there was little paying interest from Canadian institutions. She was however, open to individual print sales.

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