Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Foote notes #5

We were contacted last week by one of the retired firefighters that runs the Fire Fighters Museum of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

In his message, George mentioned that they had some Foote photos in their archive and that we were welcome to come visit and rifle through the thousands of photographs they had in their collection.

UMP director David Carr and I made a trip to the museum first thing this morning.

"Rule 86, boys..." George said, when he led us past the group of retired firemen sitting over coffee in the museum's kitchen. Which apparently means 'no swearing.'

And as George was giving us a tour of former fire station's framed pictures, restored apparatus, and uniforms, again I saw a Foote I'd never seen before.

Make that a couple of surprising Footes.

The first was a portrait of the members of the 1910 City of Winnipeg Fire Department. Producing this image would have involved dozens of studio portraits, someone to create the template to set the images in, and someone to assemble the entire puzzle.

I would have doubted that it was a Foote...but there was a version of his signature in the left-hand corner.

George said that this image used to hang in every fire station in the city and that the Fire Fighters Museum had three in their archive.

The other surprise of the day wasn't around format but subject: Foote photos of 'volunteer' firemen from the Committee of 1,000 during the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike.

We found three photos in this sequence, mostly of suited men in raincoats perched on apparatus. They look like little boys playing dress-up, like they're having a great adventure, but I wonder what their faces would have looked like if they'd had to attend a fire?

But I digress...

To sum, in addition to the differently-sized photos we've been seeing, now we know there are collage/composite group photos (what do you even call these things?)...and postcards (!)(more on that in the next edition of Foote notes).

The rule of thumb, identification-wise, remains the same: look for a signature on the photo itself, a stamp on the back, or his embossed signature on the matting that surrounds the image.

Ariel Gordon
UMP Promotions/Editorial Assistant

Monday, January 30, 2012

Favourite Foote Photos: Gerry Kopelow

This feels like the right moment to publicly reveal a secret I've carried for 62 years: I am, In Fact, L.B. Foote, reincarnated, right here, right now, back in my Beloved Winnipeg.

I chose the late 20th Century to come back because I was waiting for technology to develop to the point where I could carry on my exquisite obsession with photography of this very unusual city sans all that heavy, bulky, slow hardware I dutifully lugged around all those years through the unrelenting Prairie snow, mud, rain, dust, and wind.

Digital imaging is truly a gift from the Gods of Art.

All that being said, I am very pleased and proud to see my earlier work - originally produced under such difficult conditions - so respectfully preserved and presented.

I love photography, and I love all those images.

Every one of them tugs at my heart, stirring up Poignant Memories of people and situations of Great Interest to me and I hope all Manitobans.

Winnipeg and its inhabitants manifest a strange and wonderful creative energy which I found - and in my current life, continue to find - endlessly fascinating.

These archival works are my gift to my people, and my culture.

I submit a most sincere Thank You to everyone at University of Manitoba Press for the professionalism and kindness embodied in this undertaking.

Best Regards,
L. B. Foote
(a.k.a. Gerry Kopelow)

* * *
Gerry Kopelow is a widely published veteran photographer with extensive experience in advertising illustration, executive portraiture, editorial illustration, architectural photography, and photography of the performing arts.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Favourite Foote Photos: Steven Stothers

I've lived in Winnipeg all my life, and like all of us, I've come across a few of Foote's photos in random places around the city such as the Forks, Union Station, and the Hotel Fort Garry.

I became involved in 2008 in the restoration of Streetcar 356, and also in the history of Winnipeg's streetcars. I knew about Foote's famous 1919 streetcar strike photo and started wondering how many other pictures might be available at the Manitoba Archives and the history of the man himself.

I made a trip to the archives in early 2010 for streetcar research and I made sure to spend some time going through the Foote collection. However, once I started going through his photos, I realized I needed a couple of days to go through them all. The ones on display in public places were clearly just a very small sample of the quality and quantity of his work. I was amazed and intrigued.

This photograph leaped out at me, with the gleaming streetlights shining on the streetcar railtracks and no cars or people around. This was when Memorial Boulevard was called "the mall," and the Winnipeg Art Gallery was in the distant future. Streetcar wires are visible above the tracks, the Bay with its window awnings retracted on the left, there's a small island in the middle, and a house is on the far right.

I'm sure the streetcar rails are still under the pavement waiting to be uncovered again.

Foote must have planned this and waited for the perfect night to get this photo, and I would love to know what time this was actually taken, maybe 2 or 3am?

- Steven Stothers

* * *
Steven Stothers is a sales director for a local software company. He is a life-long Winnipegger with a passion for the history of the city. Steven is co-chair of the restoration of Streetcar 356 project with Heritage Winnipeg, a photographer, and self-published a book in 2005, Somewhere in France, the Letters of John Cannon Stothers.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Foote notes #4

My sole exposure to L.B. Foote's photos is via the prints at the Archives of Manitoba. To refresh your memory, these are the prints that Foote had in his possession when he died...and they're all 8" X 10" prints.

A few weeks ago, I was able to spend a few hours digging through the Winnipeg Free Press' photo archives with staff photographer Michael Deal and the resident librarians.

In addition to the photos the librarians located for us, we also unearthed a few more photos...and they were all 8" X 10" prints.

None of the images, to my recollection, were taken in a studio. The standard line is that Foote was more interested in shooting anything and everything out in the world than staying the studio and doing portraits.

Remember, Foote had a sales background before he ever picked up a camera.

Foote was the consummate freelancer, a hustler, which is reflected in the range of his subjects and of his clients: from news photography for the Winnipeg Free Press to crime scene photos for the Medical Examiner's Office, to documentary photos for Claydon Brothers Construction.

So you can imagine my shock when, in response to UMP's appeal for Foote photos, we started to see differently-sized images, some of which were clearly shot in a studio.

I've included a sample of these images here, described from top left and then moving clockwise:

Nancy Gates brought in this large image of King Edward VIII at Delta Marsh. The image is approximately 18 1/2" X 14" and is glued to a larger piece of cardboard, which was then framed. I won't say much more about this image, because I'll be doing a Found Foote Photo entry on it, but it is interesting to note that while the picture was shot in 1919, this print wasn't made until 1936...

Marjorie Dawson brought in a photo, shot circa 1912, of her father Oscar John Gottfred in a bike race. The image, 8" X 6 1/8", is glued on a matte frame with a logo reading "L.B. Foote 284 Main Street" to the bottom right. In addition, the photo itself has "Foote Photo" written on the left hand corner.

The third image is courtesy of June Sanderson, whose father is somewhere in the picture, taken some time in the 1920s. It is a long narrow image, 9 1/2" X 5 1/8" in size, and is glued on an plain grey board.

There is no logo or stamp, but the photo has "Foote Photo" in the left hand corner. Interestingly, though it is a different hand, the the placement is the same as the earlier picture of Oscar Gottfred. (You'll remember from Foote notes #1 that it is much more common to see Foote's 'signature' on the right hand side...)

Finally, Vicki Wallace emailed a studio picture of her maternal grandfather, George Edward Boxshall, and his family taken circa 1923. Given that the image was sent via email, I don't know it's precise dimensions, but the photo is in an ornate grey matte frame that includes the text: "Foote and James Winnipeg."

To sum, three weeks ago, I would have sworn up and down that a typical Foote photo was 8" X 10", but clearly if you were a private individual buying a copy of a group photo or commissioning one of your family, Foote gave you a lot of options...

* * *

Thanks to everyone that's shared their images with us! Please don't hesitate to contact us if you've got Foote photos in your private collections...

Ariel Gordon
UMP Promotions/Editorial Assistant

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Favourite Foote Photos: David Carr

It's almost impossible to pick just one Foote photograph to write about.

Foote had an enormous and diverse range and any single photo seems to ignore the many other themes and styles that weave through his fifty years of photo taking.

Chose one of the great historical images (the North End slum photos for instance) and you seem to forget about the beautifully glossy portraits, such as the young Duke of Windsor standing, looking quite bored, next to a brilliantly polished black locomotive. Chose one of the portraits, and you‘re missing the powerful emotive images of ‘everyday’ family and private life.

I’ve chosen a photo that doesn’t seem to have any of these characteristics. It’s a long, overhead shot of the Elks (Winnipeg Lodge No. 10) marching up Main Street as part of something called “The Promenade of Progress.” “Marching” is perhaps not the right way to describe a group of men dressed in white pants and beanies carrying striped umbrellas at the end of September, although its probably unfair to call it “sashaying” either. It is, nevertheless, one of those strikingly incongruous images that run through Foote’s work.

It is this kind of photo, like the banquet in the sewer or the crew tasting the ice on the Red River, that always makes Foote seem like the artistic grandfather of Guy Maddin. What in the world could these men, dressed for some sort of odd Sunday outing, have to do with anyone’s idea of “progress?”

But the date and place put this strange little parade into another context. The “Promenade” took place September 28, 1921. Just a little more than two years before, only a few hundred feet further north on Main Street, Winnipeg’s working class had tried its hand at a very different and much more serious movement towards progress. No one, of course, would have know this better than Foote himself, who had famously recorded those events of the 1919 General Strike in very nearly the same spot.

Throughout the first part of the last century, this stretch of Main Street between the CNR Station and City Hall was the city’s ceremonial centre, certainly as chronicled by Foote himself. Every type of parade or procession went this route, and it may be adding too much symbolic weight to the crossing paths on Main Street of the strikers and the Elks. Nevertheless, its hard not to think that striped umbrellas and beanies in tight formation are exactly what Winnipeg’s city fathers thought was just what was needed to help erase memories of those nasty events two years before. And L.B. Foote was, as always, there to record it.

Elks at the Promenade of Progress, September 1921

* * *

David Carr
is the director of the University of Manitoba Press.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Found Photo #1: Sacred Heart Parish Church

This email arrived in my inbox the day the article appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press:

"Hello, here is a scan of a Foote photo.

The image is of the altar boys of the former Belgian Sacred Heart Parish Church in St Boniface. The parish was located at 501 Plinquet Street in St. Boniface from 1917 until 1993. This photo was taken about 1920.

People in the photo:

1. Henry Van Elslander - he went on to be the first priest ordained from western Canada for the Belgian Capuchin Fathers.

2. John Van Buckenhout - born in 1908.

3. Father E. Kwakman - first priest of the parish from 1917-1928.

4. Jos. Verschaere

I was given the photo a few years ago from the daughter of John Van Buckenhout. Miss Louise Van Buckenhout was getting rid of things at the time.

I have no particular interest in old photos, I don’t collect them. I went to that church."

- Neil Pryce

Friday, January 20, 2012

Favourite Foote Photos: Janis Thiessen

How to choose only one favourite from the Foote collection? For those of us who love both history and this city, doing so is a challenge indeed.

This well-known photo of workers copper sheathing the roof of the Hotel Fort Garry circa 1915 has been one of my favourites for a long time. (I use it on my website’s homepage and as my Facebook profile photo.)

The skilled labour that is so often taken for granted is here visible, captured in a moment that might have similarly occurred four years earlier in the construction of the Union Station depicted in the photo’s background, and five years later at the Legislature a few blocks away.

Like the photos of the Winnipeg General Strike that Foote would later take, this picture of workers pausing to pose in the midst of their labour provokes questions about the nature of labour relations. Would such workers ever have had the opportunity to have a drink in the hotel’s beautifully ornate Palm Room to celebrate the end of a successful job? Did those who brokered business deals in the Palm Room ever contemplate the hands and minds that built their surroundings?

Winnipeg stretches away to the east in the photo’s background, and the working men atop the hotel’s roof look as though they are, at least temporarily, the ‘kings of the castle.’ Whatever challenges their working conditions, their relations with their employers, and their economic circumstances may have presented, Foote’s camera here elevates these workers to positions of honour. Foote has captured a moment in time that reminds us that our city was built – in more than just a literal sense – by workers like these.

- Janis Thiessen

* * *
Janis Thiessen is an assistant professor of history at the University of Winnipeg. Her first book, Manufacturing Mennonites: Work and Religion in Post-War Manitoba, will be available from University of Toronto Press in June of this year.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Foote notes #3

In my previous posts on identifying Foote photos, I was blithering on about Foote's ledgers, so I thought I'd share a few images of them.

UMP director David Carr and I visited the Manitoba Archives back in November and donned surgical gloves in order to look at Foote's ledgers, diaries, clippings...and, of course, the filing cabinets full of his photographs.

(Winnipeg Free Press photographer Mike Deal accompanied us and took a few photographs of the ledgers, which he's let us use...)

Though we just leafed through the ledgers randomly, we were able to find the entry for one of the photos we've posted to this blog, of a nurse holding three swaddled babies.

The Archives attached the following description to the photo: "Major Mrs. Louise Payne with triplets, 1916." In their numbering system, it is officially described as "n2489."

Foote described it as "Triplet at Grace Hospital" and while it somewhat unclear in this particular entry, it seems to occupy the space between 5915 and 5916 in the ledger.

Finally, the photo itself has numbers inscribed on the image's top left. They seem to be backwards...and don't seem to correspond with the ledger number. (5-816?)

It was highly interesting to see Foote's filing system, such as it may be. (Can you imagine keeping track of fifty years' worth of photographs? I can't.)

Ariel Gordon
UMP Promotions/Editorial Assistant

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Found Foote Photo #2: Claydon Bro's CONTINUED

Norman Claydon, the grandson of the founders of Claydon Brothers Contractors, shared this photo with us. He started at Claydon as as labourer and ended as secretary-treasurer.

The company closed its doors in approx. 1971.

* * *

From the City of Winnipeg's Historical Buildings Committee report on 626 Wardlaw Avenue:

"Claydon Brothers was founded in 1904 by Ebenezer (1881-1954) and Arthur Claydon, two of the five Claydon brothers. Ebenezer Claydon was born in Deeping St. James, Lincolnshire, England in 1881. After receiving his education in England, he immigrated to Canada in 1902, coming to Winnipeg shortly thereafter and establishing the general contracting firm Claydon Brothers in 1904. During his career, Ebenezer Claydon was also president of the Winnipeg Builders Exchange and vice-president of the Canadian Construction Association.

A third brother, Ernest, came to Winnipeg and joined the firm ca.1912. Arthur and Ernest enlisted and fought overseas during World War I and Arthur was killed in action in 1917. Ernest returned to Winnipeg and rejoined Claydon Brothers as the secretary-treasurer, with Ebenezer as president.

The firm was reorganized in 1917 and renamed Claydon Company Limited. By 1945, it had been expanded to handle home and business fuels and to include five Claydons: Ebenezer; his two sons, Oliver and Gurth E.; and Ernest and his son Rowland. Ebenezer died on February 26, 1954 and Ernest died in 1976. J. Norman Claydon, a son of Gurth E., was also associated with the business in the 1970s and continues to live in the city.

Like other medium-scale contracting firms, Claydon Brothers also designed and owned some of the structures they built, usually single-family dwellings. All of Winnipeg's important early twentieth-century architects used this firm. Some of its better known and larger projects include:

Broadway Baptist Church, Broadway (1906 and 1914 addition)
Dominion Bank, 678 Main Street (1907)
Church of Christ, Sherbrook Street (1907)
Canadian Pacific Railway Immigration Office, Maple Street (1907)
Assiniboine Park, first Pavilion (1908)
Windermere Apartments, 224 Kennedy Street (1909)
Kennedy Building, 317 Portage Avenue (1909)
Havergal Ladies' College, 122 Carlton Street (major renovations, 1909)
Kenilworth Court Apartments, 44 Hargrave Street (1910)
St. Elmo Apartments, 177 Colony Street (1910)
W.J. Christie House, 365 Wellington Crescent (1910)
Ackland and Son Limited Warehouse, 67 Higgins Avenue (1911)
DeBary (Highgate) Apartments, 626 Wardlaw Avenue (1912)
Anvers Apartments, 758 McMillan Avenue (1912)
Brussels Apartments, 150-56 Lilac Street (1912)
Brown Block, 902 Home Street (1912)
W.A. Hossie House, 66 Waterloo Street (1913)
Sunnycrest Apartments, 667 Wolseley Avenue (1913)
William Whyte School, Powers Street (1913)
King George Hospital, 1 Morley Avenue (completed 1914)
City Light and Power, Terminal Station, McFarlane Street (1918)
St. Michael and All Angels Anglican Church, 300 Hugo Street North (1920)
Lord Selkirk School No. 1, Brazier Street (major renovations, 1921)
Isaac Newton Junior High School, 730 Aberdeen Avenue (1921)
Indian Affairs Industrial School, Edmonton, AB (1923)
T. Eaton's Company Garage, 349 Graham Avenue (1926)
T. Eaton's Company Mail Order Building, Graham Avenue (additional storey, 1926)
T. Eaton's Company Warehouse, 130 Galt Avenue (1927)
Princess Elizabeth Hospital, 1 Morley Avenue (completed 1950)"

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Favourite Foote Photos: Jim Blanchard

This is one of my favourite Foote photos. It catches a group of newspaper employees in what I suppose is the newsroom of The Telegram newspaper in their building which still sits at the corner of Albert and McDermot.

The men are posing a little for Foote, maybe joking with him as someone from the rival daily. The big fellow on the left side of the table seems to be saying something that some of them think is funny.

Some of the others are simply working. Their tools are paper pads and pencils, paste bottles and scissors, the latter on a chain so that everyone can share the same pair. There is phone in the left foreground but other than that there are no signs of modern equipment.

Out of this room came, day after day, a fine newspaper with pages full of well-written, detailed reporting on what was going on in the city and out in the world. The quality of the writing was very high and if you browse through The Telegram - paper copies of The Telegram are still available at the Millennium Library - you'll find very few errors in spelling or grammar.

Many of the men in the picture may have been junior employees, like copy boys, who crowded in to get into the picture. But there are definitely a few ink-stained wretches here, men who look like they have been at it for quite a few years.

It's a lively, happy sort of picture that captures something of who these men really were and that's why I like it.

- Jim Blanchard

* * *
Jim Blanchard is the Head of Reference Services at Elizabeth Dafoe Library at the University of Manitoba. He is the author of two award-winning UMP titles, Winnipeg 19120 (2005) and Winnipeg's Great War: A City Comes of Age (2010). (Both titles included Foote photos.)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Found Foote Photo #2: Claydon Bro's Contractors

I came to work today...and discovered that a manilla envelope had been pushed under my door sometime over the weekend.

I stared at it for a moment, then stepped over it. I hung up my jacket, set down my purse and lunch bag, and reached for the envelope.

On the front was an address label from a Mr. Claydon with a phone number written in pen underneath. A few names had been crossed out where the addressee's name would normally go...and the new label inscribed: "Foote Foto."

My favourite part was that the name had been written vertically and horizontally, with the "F" doing double duty as the beginning of "Foote" and "Foto."

Inside, there was a photo of a construction scene, mounted on cardboard, with an index card taped to the back:
Showing First Steam Shovel To
Work on General Building
Construction in Winnipeg

Winnipeg, Manitoba
More mysterious still was the fact that someone had penciled in a question mark next to "1910."

Now to call Mr. Claydon! And find out the story of the picture...

(A note to my numbering system above: this is the second 'lost' Foote photo we've received. The first was dropped off at our office on Friday by someone who works at St. John's College...but more on that later.)

Ariel Gordon
UMP Promotions/Editorial Assistant

Friday, January 13, 2012

Favourite Foote Photos: Allan Levine

Winnipeg was built by a powerful business elite, mainly born in England, Scotland and Ontario. But in its heyday, during the boom years of the early twentieth century, it was truly transformed by hard-working immigrants, who came from Eastern Europe.

Whether they were Poles, Ukrainians, Russians or Jews who journeyed half way around the world to arrive here, these immigrants gave the city, and specifically the North End where they first resided, its unique character.

The culture, food and dress, and multi-ethnic flavour we today associate with the city were derived from this collective experience.

As this early Foote photograph shows, life for the newcomers was extremely difficult and fraught with the various urban problems that defined the pre-First World War era in many North American cities like Winnipeg.

Poverty, disease and hunger in the slums were rampant and Foote brilliantly captured this sense of despair.

Here you have a group of East Europeans, fathers, brothers and their children - and the absence of women is curious - looking tired and disheveled. The men appear as if they have just arrived home from a long day at the factory or working on a road gang and the children from playing in the dirty streets.

When I have written fictional accounts of early Winnipeg, I have closely studied such photographs taken by Foote in an attempt to get inside the head of the city's East European immigrants.

I always liked this one as depicting the trials of their lives: the clothes hanging on the rope, the ray of light in an otherwise dark and dank space, and the empty stares of the men and even the two older girls. They seem to have surrendered to the harsh realities of their ordeal, though the optimistic side of me thinks that they survived and ultimately prospered.

* * *
Allan Levine is a Winnipeg-based historian and the author of the Sam Klein Mystery trilogy set in the city's early twentieth century. His most recent book is William Lyon Mackenzie King: A Life Guided By The Hand Of Destiny.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Reprint: Point of View

Photographer L. B. Foote documented Winnipeg's early life

Winnipeg Free Press - ON-LINE EDITION
by: Winnipeg Free Press Photo Desk

Legendary Winnipeg photographer L. B. Foote photographed everything from the construction of the Manitoba Legislative Building to parades, accidents and everyday life on the streets during the city's boom town years.

Here are a few images from the Winnipeg Free Press library and the Manitoba Archives.

Click here to see the WFP slideshow of Foote photographs.

Reprint: Foote Prints

Photographer made an impact with iconic images, now U of M Press plans to publish his photos in a book

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
by: Alison Mayes

January is a popular month for de-cluttering. But editors at the University of Manitoba Press are hoping to stop Winnipeggers from tossing out tattered photo albums or musty shoeboxes of old black-and-white photos.

They're asking residents to dig through family and organizational archives in hopes of recovering lost images by L.B. Foote, the pre-eminent photographer of early 20th-century Winnipeg.

They'd also be delighted if anyone dug up correspondence with Foote or even receipts for his services, since the textual record of his life is slim.

This fall, the press plans to publish a book of photos by the self-taught, highly skilled Foote, who lived from 1873 to 1957. The adventurous Newfoundlander born Lewis Benjamin arrived here in 1902 and captured thousands of images during a freelance career spanning more than four decades.

Since the Manitoba Archives acquired Foote's personal archive from his family in the early 1970s, his photos have been used in many books, documentaries and museum exhibits.

Foote's rare, compelling images of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike have attained iconic status, particularly his shot of workers rocking a streetcar on Bloody Saturday.

But his day-in, day-out work was commercial photography. He had a downtown studio, but also worked for at least part of his career from his home on Gertrude Avenue.

For the rest of the article, click here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Favourite Foote Photos: Gordon Goldsborough

On the day after Dominion Day, 1922, seven men gathered in the kitchen at 109 Henry Avenue, a couple of blocks from Winnipeg’s CPR Station.

Among them were 39 year-old Wasyl Spachynski and 49 year-old George Antoniuk.

Tensions were strained between the two men, apparently because Antoniuk railed at Spachynski’s claim to be the “boss of Henry Avenue."

Following a short, heated quarrel, Antoniuk took out a pocket knife and stabbed Spachynski in the neck, severing his jugular vein.

Police called to the scene found Antoniuk standing outside, spattered in blood, and Spachynski on the floor inside.

Rushed to the Winnipeg General Hospital, Spachynski died within five minutes.

It is not well known that, in addition to his work taking portraits and documenting special events, Lewis Foote also worked as a police photographer.

Among the collections at the Archives of Manitoba are grisly photos of corpses and crime scenes, most of which have been taken out of active circulation to dissuade “looky loos."

I like this photo — taken by Foote soon after the crime — because, unlike a lot of his photos, it is unposed and raw, showing us what the kitchen of a low-income household in 1922 Winnipeg looked like.

Aside from the blood stains, rags, and abandoned cigarette pack on the floor, it seems lovingly well-tended, with plates and containers neatly arranged on the cupboard, a towel drying on a line, pots sitting on the small wood stove, and frilly curtains in the window.

Justice for the murdered Spachynski was swift. On 17 November 1922, a jury found Antoniuk guilty of manslaughter and he was sentenced to five years in prison.

Today, the scene of the crime is long gone, the building having fallen during construction of the Disraeli Freeway.

- Gordon Goldsborough

* * *
Gordon Goldsborough is Webmaster, Secretary, and a Past-President of the Manitoba Historical Society, and an editor of Manitoba History journal. He is presently working on an interactive map of historic sites around Manitoba, and is co-authoring a forthcoming book on the environmental history of Delta Marsh. He is also an aquatic ecologist in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Manitoba.

Foote on Flickr!

We've shared a dozen or so Foote photographs on this blog, but for those of you that need MORE FOOTE PHOTOS and can't wait until the UMP book is out next fall, there's a set of several hundred photos on Flickr, the photo-sharing website.

I've been linking there in my emails...and the person who owns the set has noticed the upsurge in traffic and has posted 64 more photos.

This is one of the 'new' photos and it's officially my new favourite Foote photo. (I have a new favourite every week, it seems...)

The caption is "Miss Winnipeg 1923." I wonder, can anyone identify our snow-shoeing beauty queen?

Ariel Gordon
UMP Promotions/Editorial Assistant

Monday, January 9, 2012

Foote notes #2

So you've got a photo you're convinced is by L.B. Foote. But it doesn't have his signature, identifying numbers, or stamp (as was described in the first edition of Foote Notes).

If you have the original envelope the photo came in, check to see if there's an invoice or any other documentation.

Foote had different letterhead over the five decades that he was photographing Winnipeg (and invoicing Winnipeggers for same...) and so included with this post is an sample from his Foote & James years and also something mid-career.

Finally, he also sometimes issued a type-written page detailing the photos he took with a ink signature at the bottom, so we're including that here too.

Ariel Gordon
UMP Promotions/Editorial Assistant

Friday, January 6, 2012

Favourite Foote Photos: Danny Schur

My favourite Foote photograph, even more than his iconic tipped streetcar shot from Bloody Saturday, is the famous “Down With Bolshevism” shot from the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike.

The shot was taken on the west side of City Hall, earlier in June, and depicts an anti-strike veterans' parade that culminated at the Gingerbread city hall.

For me, the shot epitomizes so many of the forces at work in Winnipeg society, not just in the First World War, but from the time of Riel.

The exuberance of the Victorian architecture, the Protestant thirst for order and good government (as represented by the British Empire and parliamentary system), virulent xenophobia (if not outright racism) mixed with a preponderance of militarism, a passionate, unruly veteran class (ultimately the wild card in the outcome of the strike) – all are encompassed here with but one click of Foote's documentary camera.

And whether by accident or design, the details of the photograph are exquisite: the mayor clasping his hands to address the crowd, the Union Jack shadowed such that it appears almost 3-D, the surging symmetry of the drain pipe, pole and vertical lines of the gingerbread City Hall – and all balanced by the hat-wearing crowd.

While certainly taken in the heat of the moment, only Foote's great artistic eye could have so composed a spontaneous shot.

- Danny Schur

* * *
Danny Schur is a Winnipeg-based composer/producer/writer/director for stage, screen and radio. Known for his musical Strike! (set against the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike), Danny is working on a new musical about Louis Riel with writing partner Rick Chafe.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Foote notes #1

So you think you might have a photograph by L.B. Foote but you're not sure...

Well, Foote photos have a few defining characteristics.

First of all, the word "Foote" appears in white on many of his photos, usually to the right hand side with a series of numbers on the left. Though sometimes this signature of sorts appears on the left hand side or in other high-contrast areas of the photograph.

Here are examples of some of his signatures.

You'll note that one of the photo details I've included here says "Foote & James." Those are from early in Foote's career, when he was in business with George James, who apparently did most of the printing.

Also worth noting is that later photos sometimes include a longer signature. For instance, a series of images from V.E. Day 1945 included this signature: "May 7, 1945. L.B. Foote Photo."

Other ways of telling if you have a Foote photo is that he sometimes stamped the back of his prints with the following information: "L.B. Foote 492 Gertrude Ave. Telephone 41968"

If your photo has none of these markings but you're convinced that it's a Foote photo, it is also possible to check the photo against the hand-written ledgers that Foote kept, detailing his clients and a brief description of each photo's subject matter.

The ledgers are at the Archives of Manitoba and do not cover Foote's entire career but...they're better than nothing, especially when you're trying to identify a photograph.

Ariel Gordon
UMP Promotions/Editorial Assistant

Monday, January 2, 2012

Favourite Foote Photos: Jeff McKay

When Laszo Markovics and I were doing our film about L.B. Foote and L.L.FitzGerald we went through hundreds and hundreds of images.

Foote was a commercial photographer but he was had this absolutely out-of-left-field side to his work. He obviously had a real sense of humour, curiousity and theatricality.

Much of his work is so well done, well framed, exposed, executed and there are many photos which spring forth in my mind as favorites.

But this image of the two chickens captured atop a pedestal in front of a lit backdrop at the poultry show is a standout for me.

When I see it I think of the speed in which he worked with the equipment he had at the time.

Glass plates, exposures, and he did a lot of the printing himself.

This particular photo reveals how adept he was with his camera. He was a skilled technician and an artist.

And it's a kooky fun picture. I love it!

- Jeff McKay

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Jeff McKay began making films in 1985. He has worked as a director, editor and cameraman. His films have sold and aired to broadcasters and played in festivals around the world. He loves Winnipeg and prairie people, places and stories.