Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Put your best Foote forward: Imagining Winnipeg

LB Foote 1943
Images from Buflyer on Flickr

What would Winnipeg history be without the photography of Lewis Foote ? From the time of his arrival in Winnipeg in 1902 until his retirement in 1947, Foote chronicled Winnipeg's growth from a frontier town to the Chicago of the North.

Many of his photographs are the historical record, often the only known image of countless people, buildings or events. How could you begin to tell the story of the Winnipeg General Strike's Bloody Saturday without his iconic images ?

Copper Sheathing on Hotel Fort Garry 1912-13slum

Foote didn't concentrate on the rich and prominent, he also showed the lives of the ordinary Winnipeggers doing ordinary things. Construction workers on the job, the interiors of slum dwellings, middle class families sitting down to dinner or picnicking in a park.

The scope of Foote's collection is astonishing. If you drop by the Manitoba Archives, you will find thousands of them in a filing cabinet. Whenever I visit, I sit down with a couple of file folders and just flip through them to get a slice of Winnipeg's daily life in the early 1900s.


Though Foote's photographs can be found in most every book or website related to Winnipeg history, aside from heading down to the archives you won't find a large collection in one place. At 7 p.m. on Wednesday, September 26, 2012 at McNally Robinson a new book called Imagining Winnipeg: History Through the Photographs of L. B. Foote will be launched. It is a collection of 150 photographs, many rarely seen.

It is definitely worth checking out.

For more details about the launch, here is the U of M Press media release.

Foote on a derrick McArthur bldng 1906

Mr. Foote has left behind him a legacy that, in its way, is more valuable and more permanent than many legacies - his unequalled pictorial history of his city and its people. It is a fine memorial.
Winnipeg Free Press, July 15, 1957

Lost Foote Photos Blog
Buflyer's Foote Gallery on Flickr (the source of the above images)
Timelinks Manitoba Historical Society


Xtoval said...

Is there any plans by the Archives to digitize the Foote photos and put them online? Just like the New York Municipal Archives has done with its photographic collection.

See here:

Andrew C said...

Have they ever digitized any more of the Tribune photographs, or was that first sample 10 years back all we're getting? Maybe I'll designate my next U of M alumni donation to that worthy end rather than amorphously to the Faculty of Arts as usual! In any event, I'm looking forward to seeing the book.

mrchristian said...

I doubt they have any. The MB archives is the most tech unfriendly place you'd ever want to visit. Card indexes and paper forms for everything.