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

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