Unfinished Business: Collecting Canadian Photography

A Noon Time Collection Talk with Christopher Varley and Paul Roth

Jeremiah Doody, Dawson by the Light of the Aurora Borealis, ca. 1908, gelatin silver print. The Image Centre, Gift of Christopher Varley, 2018

Unfinished Business: Collecting Canadian Photography

Noon Time Collection Talk
Christopher Varley and Paul Roth

The Image Centre’s Peter Higdon Research Centre
122 Bond Street, Toronto
Second floor, room RIC-241 / IMC-241

Thursday, October 26, 2023
12 pm

Join local collector and former curator Christopher Varley in conversation with IMC Director Paul Roth, as they discuss a transformative acquisition of Canadian photography. In 2018, Varley generously donated over 500 photographs from his personal collection to The Image Centre. Created by various Canadian makers from the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, these photographs document a wide range of subjects across the nation. This Noon Time Collection Talk will explore how Varley acquired pictures over time and the complexities of building a comprehensive collection of historical Canadian photography.

Free, and no registration required. Seating is limited and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Explore the Collection

Fred Douglas, [Chris Varley, Curator], 1975, gelatin silver print. The Image Centre, Gift of Christopher Varley, 2018

About the Collection

Donated in 2018 by former art museum curator Christopher Varley, this collection comprises 542 works by various Canadian makers from the late nineteenth into the present century. The photographs document diverse landscapes and changing cityscapes across the country, representing the geographic regions of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes. A number of early-twentieth-century “real photo postcards” by Philip Timms and others serve as mementos of a particular place and time, and reveal developments in the circulation of photographic imagery. Later twentieth-century prints by such artists as Geoffrey James and Douglas Curran exemplify the genres of landscape and street photography, while works by Fred Herzog and Fred Douglas are antecedents to the influential Vancouver School of conceptual photography. Representing some of the country’s most significant photographers in a broad range of media, the collection provides an in-depth and important scholarly resource on the history of Canadian photography.

Left: Photographer unknown, [Eureka Woolen Mill Co.], 1883–1904, albumen print mounted on card. The Image Centre, gift of Christopher Varley, 2018; Right: Fred Herzog, Granville/Smythe, 1959, inkjet print on watercolour paper. The Image Centre, Gift of Christopher Varley, 2018


Upcoming IMC Events

Opening Reception—Hannah Somers: The Music Sang ‘Lean on Me’
Wednesday, November 1, 2023
6–8 pm

Special Exhibition Tour: Stories from the Picture Press
Led by co-curators Rachel Verbin and Paul Roth
Wednesday, November 15, 2023
6 pm

Special Exhibition Tour: Stories from the Picture Press
Led by co-curators Rachel Verbin and Gaëlle Morel
Wednesday, November 29, 2023
6 pm


The Image Centre
33 Gould Street
Toronto, Ontario M5B 1W1
416-979-5164
imagecentre.gallery@torontomu.ca

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Admission is always free

Gallery Hours
Sunday–Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday: 12–8 pm
Thursday–Saturday: 12–6 pm

Exhibition Tours
Tuesday: By appointment
Wednesday–Friday: drop-in, 1:30 pm

The Image Centre is wheelchair accessible. Please contact us if we can make any accommodations to ensure your inclusion in our exhibitions and events.

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