Archive For The “History” Category
A week or so ago, I was going through box and box of old photos in the collection of my late mother, Catherine Rowland (nee Hill). Almost all of the images are people photos, my mother, her brother, parents and friends from 1914, when she was born, until the Second World.
I was surprised to find among all those photos two small shots of the Canadian War Memorial at Vimy Ridge in France.
It commemorates the battle where the Canadian Corps assaulted German lines at Vimy Ridge during the offensive of the Battles of Arras in 1917.
The memorial was planned in the early 1920s to mark the Canadian contribution in the horrors of the First World War. It was built on a foundation 11,000 tonnes of steel reinforced concrete with 6,000 tonnes of Seget limestone brought from Crotia to create the twin pylons.
Now here is the mystery, as far as I know my mother had no known connection to Canada until our family moved to Canada in 1951. It is likely that either my mother, or her brother, John Hill, took the photos on a trip to France, perhaps soon after the memorial’s completion in late 1935 and before the official opening by King Edward VIII, French President Albert Lebrun and Prince Arthur of Connaught on July 26, 1936 (which also would have been my mother’s 22nd birthday).
The original photos were small, probably direct prints from the (lost?) original negatives, about two inches on the longest side. The original prints were enlarged, enhanced and restored in PhotoShop. Restoration copyright 2023 by Robin Rowland.
The cloudy day creates an interesting atmopshere to the shots of the twin pylons.
“Such miserable pirates are too sordid to engage a photographer to make a special series for them; they prefer to rob an already poorly paid class of men-men who have to depend for their living upon the sale of views taken during the short summer months.”
Most photographers today believe that the problems of image piracy began with the Internet in the 1990s and the switch over to digital in the 2000s.
That’s what I thought too — until this weekend when I was doing research for a book project on the archive site Canadiana.ca. I serendipitously came across some old copies of the Canadian Photographic Journal from 1894 and 1895. If you read about the problems photographers were facing with image pirates and with news organizations that took images without credit 122 years ago, it appears that things haven’t changed all that much.
MORE CONCERNING COPYRIGHT
WE have on former occasions tried to impress our readers with the vital importance of registering their copyright in photographs that are likely to prove of more than passing importance, and we published in a former number a concise article upon the method of securing such registration in Canada.
We have since received numerous complaints from subscribers who have been victimized by pirate publishers. One of these firms of pirates began by buying a few photograms of a prominent Canadian city at a cost of about twenty-five cents each and then published
them as photo engravings in “Souvenir” form at about ten cents the book.
We do not mean to say the photograms thus collected at so little expense were by any means excellent views, and the reproductions were even worse, but still put upon the market at so low a price-they were sold and must have injured the sale of the original photograms.
We have no battle with publishers of these books so long as they pursue their business in a straightforward manner and give the photographers, whose works they appropriate, adequate remuneration and proper acknowledgment of authorship.
But we have no sympathy with the meanness of those marauding pirates who infest certain cities and rob hardworking photographers of the results of their labors. It is all very well for these people to say they bought and paid for the views they republish, we admit that they did so-but they did not thereby acquire the right to republish those views and sell them in opposition to their original authors.
Such miserable pirates are too sordid to engage a photographer to make a special series for them; they prefer to rob an already poorly paid class of men-men who have to depend for their living upon the sale of views taken during the short summer months.
These same parasitical publishers seem- to be imbued with a natural inborn baseness that prevents them from giving the men they rob credit for being the authors of the original photographs, whereas if they had the decency to publish the names and addresses of the
photographers we might consider it in the light of a redeeming act of grace.
How often do we see even in the public press such titles as “Minne-haha Cathedral From a Photograph.”
Why are publishers so averse to give credit where credit is due? Is it because they are ashamed to publish the name of their victim, or is it because they fear he might be a gainer of some notoriety if his name was mentioned?
If newspapers are mean enough to take the liberty of appropriating men’s work and publishing it, they should not be too mean to advertise him by mentioning bis name and address.
Since there is such a lamentable lack of honorable feeling among a certain class, the only remedy for photographers is registration of copyright and, again, we urge our readers, if they do not wish to, be at the mercy of copyists, to register each of their choice views.
We know that the Canadian Copyright Act is hardly in accordance with the requirements of photographers-the rates being (in their peculiar circumstances) especially high-but still registration is the only way of protecting individual interests.
In Great Britain there has been recently formed an active “Copyright Union” which is virtually under the wing of the Chamber of Commerce.
The active promoters of this union have our most hearty sympathies; they are doing a good work for our British brethren and deserve the undivided support of every photographer in the land. Canada has long been in want of such an active body to protect the interests of photographers.
We believe the time is now ripe for the formation of such a union here, and we believe the best expression of our sympathies with the organizers of the British union will be the formation of a similar body in Canada. We want an amendment to the Copyright Act an
amendment that will be an equal gain to photographers and the treasury of Canada.
Individuals cannot secure this, a powerful combined effort can do so.
The active co-operation of all photographers is required to fight for that which is, according to the unwritten code of honor, their individual right.
A year later in May 1895, the Canadian Photographic Journal published this letter from New York City.
SIR, -At an informal meeting held by a number of representative photographers of this city, March 14, 1895, it was unanimously decided to issue the following prospectus to the prominent members of our profession, submitting the plan proposed therein to their earliest consideration, and requesting their immediate reply to same address, Committee of the proposed Photographers’ Copyright League, 13-15 West Twenty-fourth Street.
Art in photography is at last a generally acknowledged factor, and the productions of photographers have become the chief source of supply for the illustrations which fi1l newspapers and periodicals. Even the courts now recognize that fact and extend the protection of the copyright law to all such photographers as are artistic.
During the past ten years a vigorous battle has been waging between a few determined photographers on the one hand, and an indiscriminate host of lithographers and other pirates, on the other. The latter had become so used to appropriating without leave whatever they saw was good and original in photographic publications, giving in return neither remuneration nor even credit, and the results to them were so profitable, that the effort to break them of the pernicious habit was no easy matter.
On the contrary it developed rapidly into a serious and bitterly contested struggle.
Thus far each photographer has done his fighting, sing]e-handed, and generally against large and powerful corporations. In spite of this, however, the result has been almost uniformly a complete victory for the photographer, decision after decision being rendered in his favor by the courts, though often only after years of burdensome and expensive litigation.
In view of these facts and other reasons which follow, we deem it wise and expedient, at this time, to band our best men together, so, that in future a united front will be opposed to infringers of all kinds.
There have been many demands within the past few years for such a union, and we know of no question now rife in the fraternity in which a community of interests would be more desirable, mutual and in every way advantageous to us ail.
Our proposition is that an organization (to be known as the Photographers’ Copyright League of America) be formed at once, and take upon itself, by means of an advisory committee to be elected annually, the prosecution of all infringers of the copyright works of any of its members, whenever a proper case for such prosecution is presented by him ; that it defray all expenses of same ; and that in return, so as to make it self-supporting, a fair percentage of all recoveries so obtained, be turned into the treasury.
The nineteenth century definition of photogram is obviously different from today’s “image made without camera”. From the context it appears to refer to souvenir postcards.
In the nineteenth century, Canadians were encouraged to register copyright materials with the Department of Agriculture. Today, under the Berne Convention, Canadians don’t have to register, but can if they wish with the copyright office. However, unlike the United States, there is no requirement to file a copy of the work.
An online search has found no references to the Photographers’ Copyright League of America. It would be interesting to find out what happened to the organization.
One has to note that despite the fact that magazine masthead shows a woman photographer with a camera on a tripod, the copy is somewhat sexist, referring to photographers as “men” and a “fraternity.”
And now a word from our sponsor……the latest gear for May 1895 (ad in the Canadian Photographic Journal.)
I was in Prince Rupert and Port Edward, BC on Friday, May 29. I was able to pay a brief visit to the North Pacific Cannery National Historic Site. I had always wanted to see the site, but in the past my visits to Prince Rupert were either in the winter, when the site is closed, or I was too busy filing to clients to have the time.
So here are some of the photos I took, converted to black and white, appropriate since the North Pacific Cannery was the longest running cannery on the west coast, operating from 1889 to 1981. It was named a National Historic Site in 1987.
The west end of the cannery site. The two small buildings are replicas of the houses that were occupied by workers from local First Nations. The large building to the left is the machine shop and First Nations net loft (Robin Rowland)
A fishing net hangs from the rafters in the First Nations Net Loft. The building was built in Port Essington and moved to the cannery site in 1937. The loft was where First Nations fishers stored, repaired and hung their nets. (Robin Rowland)
Another view of the loft. (Robin Rowland)
The main part of the cannery at low tide. (Robin Rowland)
The cannery’s old fuel dock was separate from the rest of the facility for safety reasons. (Robin Rowland)
Another view of the old fuel dock. (Robin Rowland)
An old rowboat on the cannery grounds. (Robin Rowland)
The west end of Smith Island, Port Edward, BC, captured driving back from the cannery site just as the fog rolled in. (Robin Rowland)
The First World War began one hundred years ago tonight; a war that eventually killed 16 million people, including 10 million serving in various armed forces.
This is just one story of a young Canadian flyer in the Royal Navy Air Service who died not in combat, but from an aircraft accident in 1917. H. Laurence (or Lawrence) Crowe of Toronto, aged 20.
On August 5, 2005 I had paid a visit to my parents’ grave in Toronto’s Mount Pleasant Cemetery and then walked around for a while on that pleasant summer afternoon.
I spotted a large memorial, a statue, with a broken hand, and both the statue itself and the fact that it was broken reminded me somewhat of the Parthenon Freize, (the infamous Elgin Marbles). Moving closer (and using the small digital point and shoot I was carrying everywhere in 2005) I saw that the statue was both “ancient” and modern, the figure was bare chested, heroic, like the figures from ancient Greece, but around his waist was supporting what may be a short kilt is a modern belt. I’m not sure about the headgear, it doesn’t really look like a flier’s helmet, a Greek helm or a naval officer’s cap.
Adding to the heroic nature of the memorial is the inscription: Quit Ye Like Men. Be Strong. Although we call many “heroes” today, 1917 was a time when a classical heroic metaphor was still part of the culture.
So watching the news items tonight on the beginning of the First World War, I wondered who was this young man?
You’ll find a profile of Harry Laurence Crowe on the Veteran’s Affairs Canada Virtual Memorial site.
He was born on April 12, 1897, in Bridgetown, Nova Scotia, which means that when the war broke out a century ago he would have been 17 years old. He attended St. Andrew`s College in Toronto and the University of Toronto, before deciding to become a pilot. He went to a flying school in Newport News, Virginia then on to England and joined the Royal Navy in Plymouth. On June 22, 1917, after just three months service, he was searching for a German submarine off the coast of Devonshire and was returning to base flying at 1500 feet and 500 metres from shore at Prawle Point when the plane suddenly nose dived into the ocean, probably due to mechanical failure.
There was a memorial service in Plymouth which included a large model of an aircraft covered in flowers.
Unusual for the time, his remains were returned to Toronto, and according to a Toronto Star report on August 8, 1917, the funeral with full military honours was held at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery. There was a second plane as part of that memorial, the Star reported:
This floral aeroplane was made from the wrecked portions of an aeroplane Lieut. Crowe was fond of using, but not the one from which he was killed. The wings spread out about five feet covered in forget-me-nots. The aeroplane body was about six feet also covered in blue flowers with sprays of white ones. An accurate model it was in every way from the carriage wheels below to the curved propeller in front.
There was a firing party, a bugler performed The Last Post and two aircraft made a flypast over Mt. Pleasant.
In 1918, the University of Toronto student newspaper The Varsity published a memorial to Crowe and other war dead. As you can see from the photograph from The Varsity, the sculpture did capture a likeness of the young aviator.