PHOTOGRAPHY IN OTTAWA

Quick facts

Story kiosk location

  • Corner of Bank Street and Laurier Avenue West

Important dates

  • (1882 – 1896) G.A. Snider operated his photo studio at 136-138 Bank Street. 

Audiofile

  • Yes

Who lived here?

  • Born in 1856, Snider spent 55 years in the photography business before giving up and moving to Montreal.

Look towards downtown, lift your eyes up and you'll see an old advertising sign...

…with the words “G. A. Snider photographers” painted on the side of a brick building.

                          Photo: Paul Harrison, Workers’ History Museum


Topley Studio, William James Topley, Library and Archives Canada, Mikan no. 3383131

 

Established as the capital in 1857, photographers flocked to Ottawa to meet portrait photography demands. The boom attracted photographers such as G.A. Snider and William James Topley who were forced to adapt to changing technologies in order to attract customers in a competitive market.

 

                                Photo: Paul Harrison, Workers’ History Museum

 

In 1892, G.A. Snider commissioned J. F. Belanger to paint a sign on the side of his business at 134 Bank Street (now 136-138 Bank Street). Advertising his services as a photographer, Snider operated the business here until 1896. The sign became visible when a neighbouring building was demolished. A campaign to preserve it is now underway.

 

                                         The Evening Journal, July 16, 1890, p. 1

 

George Albert Snider was one of approximately ten professional photographers working in Ottawa in the 1890s. Initially employed at the Sparks Street studio of Samuel J. Jarvis and Alfred Pittway (one of whose photographs can be seen in our Lacrosse at Lansdowne story), Snider established his own business at 123 Bank Street (later moving across the street) in 1890. To promote his services, he ran this advertisement in The Ottawa Evening Journal.

 

                          The Browne Family. Photo Courtesy of Howard J. Simkover

 

Snider closed his business in 1896 and eventually moved to Montreal. Local historian Howard J. Simkover thinks it was competition from men like Topley that encouraged this decision.

 

Howard first noticed the Snider sign in 2011 and began to research the photographer and his business. He shared his knowledge with Capitalhistory.ca researcher Emily Keyes. You can listen to their conversation by clicking on the audio clip below.

 

 

 

Acknowledgements

 

This story was researched and developed by Emily Keyes as part of the CapitalHistory.ca project of the Carleton Centre for Public History in association with the Workers’ History Museum. Her work was funded through a Mitacs Development Grant made possible by the generosity of Know History. Emily would like to thank Howard J. Simkover, Christopher B. Snider, and Paul Harrison.

The story was revised by Pascale Couturier as a contribution to the Workers’ History Museum’s Capital History Kiosk’s project for Ottawa 2017.

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