Highlights of Hayward’s photos for companies

By Olivia Chlebicki

As a summer student in the Private Specialized Media section of Social Life and Culture Private Archives, I was tasked with the project of describing a group of photographs from the Hayward Studios fonds. Samuel J. Hayward, a photographer born in the United Kingdom, moved to Canada and made an imprint on our history by capturing moments, people and places.

Hayward began his career working for advertising and photoengraving firms. In the early 1920s, he became the official photographer for Canada Steamship Lines. His career also took him to other companies, like Canadian Vickers Ltd., an aircraft and shipbuilding company, and Steinberg’s Ltd., a grocery company. Hayward documented events at such companies as well as their products. For example, his fonds includes photos of architectural subjects, locomotives, aircraft and ships. These are all very much documentary photos, but after sifting through the collection, I found many shots that caught my eye because they were artistic and visually captivating.

The photos I worked with were mainly taken in Montréal between 1920 and 1970; Hayward captured scenes of society and pieces of history there throughout the years. Showcased here are a few that stood out, both visually and through the histories encapsulated in them.

A black-and-white photo of a woman in a grocery story wearing a white dress and pouring a liquid from a can into a glass. She is standing behind a bin of canned drinks and two shopping carts with signs that read “Now in Cans.”

A promotion in a grocery story for the Continental Can Co.’s soft drinks in cans (a085192)

The first photo shows an employee in a grocery store advertising a (presumably) new product, “Soft Drinks now in Cans!” As the ad states, soft drinks are being introduced in cans, a product that we are very familiar with today. Hayward’s photo provides viewers with a glimpse of this moment in social history.

A black-and-white photo of a man standing on a telephone pole and working on the wires. It is snowing, and he is wearing a winter coat, gloves and hat.

A Bell Telephone Company electrician (a069351)

Hayward took many photos for the Bell Telephone Company, particularly ones featuring workers. The second photo depicts a hard-working, committed employee on the job during a snowstorm. The man is strapped to the pole and attending to the cables as the snow blows by.

A black-and-white photo of men and women watching a champagne bottle being broken against the hull of a large ship. A man is holding his hat over the face of a woman wearing a fur coat.

Christening a Canadian Vickers ship (a085036)

The third photo captures the moment of breaking a champagne bottle against the bow of a new ship. This common naval tradition of christening a ship invites good luck. A sponsor usually announces the name of the ship as the bottle is smashed, and the ship is then launched. Hayward shows this tradition in his photo: a newly built Canadian Vickers ship is christened. A woman in a large fur coat stands front and centre with a microphone, likely the sponsor. It is a somewhat comical scene, as a man uses his hat to protect her face as the champagne bottle smashes against the hull.

A black-and-white photo of the launching of a ship into the water, surrounded by logs and other debris.

The moment when the Canada Steamship Lines ship Canadian Forester was launched. (a059444)

The fourth photo depicts the launching part of this same naval tradition. The Canada Steamship Lines ship Canadian Forester is captured at the exact moment of its launch. As the ship lands in the water, the waves rise as high as the top of the ship. Working with Canada Steamship Lines, Hayward photographed the journeys and lives of many ships.

A black-and-white photo of the front of a large ship. There is a dent on the side of the hull that is furthest from the dock.

The SS Ikala after a collision (a059755)

The ship pictured in the fifth photo is the SS Ikala, a New Zealand freighter docked in Montréal. When I researched the ship, I came across an article in the Montréal Gazette, Friday, May 13, 1927, describing the ship’s encounter with a tank vessel called the James McGee, which resulted in a small collision. In Hayward’s photo, the result of the accident can be seen on the front left side of the ship, documenting evidence of that event.

Photography is an artistic resource for Canadian history. Moments are documented, time and history are captured visually. These highlights from Hayward’s collection depict such instances, providing viewers with insight into the social life and culture of the time and place. The photos that Hayward took for Canadian companies help to enrich the collection at Library and Archives Canada by illustrating aspects of our history and society.


Olivia Chlebicki worked as a summer student in the Private Specialized Media section of the Social Life and Culture Private Archives Division at Library and Archives Canada.

Now it’s personal: a look at personal archives at Library and Archives Canada

By Stephen Danilovich

Imagine that an archive of you has been donated to Library and Archives Canada (LAC). Picture the sorts of things that make it into your collection: a high school diary, this month’s grocery receipts, your last social media post.

Now imagine that you are the archivist processing your own archive. How would you organize all of these items into distinct groupings? Where would you restrict access to sensitive information, and why? And would you try to describe your records fairly … or would you be tempted to tidy things up?

These are some of the questions that arise when working with personal archives: archives produced by individual people, as opposed to institutions or corporations. Needless to say, things can get personal with personal archives. Nowhere else do questions of privacy, original order, donor relations and other archival concerns come into contact so closely with the day-to-day questions of being human.

One thing that makes personal collections unique is that they tend to turn the tables on you, the archivist. You start to consider all of the traces you leave behind, how some future archivist might try to piece together your life. You also notice the many things that slip through the cracks and go unrecorded.

As any archivist will tell you, much of an archivist’s work happens in those blind spots. An archivist has to draw connections between or across the actual items, creating an intellectual arrangement that will give future researchers a way into the collection. So what happens when archivists try to create intellectual order out of a human life, its records and traces?

Two black-and-white images, side-by-side, of a woman in profile with dark hair. The image on the left is the negative, and the one on the right is the final photograph.

Two ways of seeing: negative, positive. Miss Ethel Hand, November 10, 1934, photo by Yousuf Karsh (e010680101)

To answer this question, I spoke to archivists in the Social Life and Culture Private Archives Division, which includes the collections of such celebrated authors as Carol Shields, Michael Ondaatje, Daphne Marlatt and others. The fact that many of these authors are still living today makes these questions all the more vital.

“It puts your own life into perspective,” says archivist Christine Waltham, who has been working with the collection of Thomas King. “It’s someone giving their life, really.”

“You really feel you know these people,” says Christine Barrass, a senior archivist whose first encounter with personal archives was the fonds of Doris Anderson. “It seems very transactional, but when you get to know the nitty-gritty of it, it’s a real honour and a real privilege.”

Black-and-white photograph of a woman in profile with grey hair and a dark necklace.

A portrait of a subject: Doris Anderson, October 10, 1989, photo by Barbara Woodley (e010973512)

Perhaps the most unexpected challenge to arise while working with personal archives is the emotional investment that the archivist can begin to develop for the archive and its creator.

“The emotions that come up, that you don’t get in institutional archives, that can be hard to deal with,” Waltham says. “How to describe it respectfully.”

“It can be a bit too much, if that’s not something you want in your daily life,” explains Barrass, who believes that the good and the bad about personal archives are two sides of the same coin: how intimate things can get.

Often, the archivist is the first person to see the material aside from the creator, which calls for an implicit relationship of trust. This privileged view of someone’s life comes with a deep sense of responsibility, leading to what Catherine Hobbs, a literary archivist, calls “archival paranoia.”

“It is the sense of never being able to do enough,” Hobbs says, “which is the sign of any responsible archivist.”

Processing someone’s archive becomes a constant tightrope walk between the creator’s public and private lives. Any item can turn out to be a clue to a secret affair, a feud kept under wraps, or a side of the person that no one knew before. To add to the stakes, what future researchers will find useful can be impossible to predict.

All this requires a careful balancing act between the donor’s privacy on the one hand and access for future researchers on the other, while at the same time upholding LAC’s mandate.

“Our role is to stand in the middle distance: act as guardian, and as the facilitator of research,” says Hobbs.

It is this strange mix of personal intimacy and a bird’s-eye distance that makes working in personal archives so special.

Black-and-white photograph of a woman with long dark hair in a flowing white dress, seated in front of an oval mirror and looking toward the camera.

Between mirror and lens: “The Mob,” Dominion Drama Festival, April 24, 1934, photo by Yousuf Karsh (e010679016)

As a summer student employee, taking on archival work for the first time, I hoped to get some clarity on the proper practices for processing a personal archive. But I quickly learned that personal archives are as varied and nuanced as their creators.

“The messiness of life that’s in personal archives is what makes it special,” Waltham says.

And that messiness requires a special touch. Given how unique each personal collection is in both arrangement and content, being too prescriptive about predetermined procedures for creating intellectual order may not always be the best approach. If an archivist tries to formalize too much, some of the uniqueness of a collection could be lost.

“How much you can tell just from what the records look like, the conditions they were kept in,” Waltham adds, “that says a lot about the person.” An overly standardized processing method could mean losing some of that granularity. One could even claim that personal archives go beyond the realm of social science and into something like art—even a collaboration with the archive’s creator.

Hobbs argues that working in an archive is more than a science, “it’s a responsible practice.” The most important thing that an archivist can bring to a personal archive is a sense of “the honesty of the endeavour”: being present with the actual life of these records in an empathetic way, and understanding the rare intimacy that is involved when someone gives up such a private part of himself or herself.

After all, maybe what is required for personal archives is a little self-awareness on the part of archivists—an understanding of the role they play in this grand procession between everyday human lives, record keeping and research. Creating order out of someone’s personal records is itself an unavoidably personal practice. Archivists working with personal archives have to be especially sensitive to the way that we are all participating in what Hobbs calls this “human experiment,” co-creating as much as we are cataloguing when we try to make sense out of another human being.

For all the challenges and emotions that come with personal archives, archivists at LAC do the best they can. The ultimate hope, as Hobbs puts it, is to “leave the archives better than we found them.”


Stephen Danilovich is a student archivist in the Social Life and Culture Private Archives Division of the Archives Branch at Library and Archives Canada.

How genealogists can use newspapers

By Emily Potter

Newspapers contain a wealth of information for historical researchers, but you may be surprised by how helpful they can be for genealogy research. Library and Archives Canada (LAC) holds an extensive collection of newspapers that are just waiting to be explored.

Here are a few of the ways that newspapers can come in handy when doing your genealogy.

Birth, marriage and death announcements

Birth, marriage and death records are among the most popular genealogy sources, but depending on the province, civil registration records can be restricted for up to 110 years. Researching birth, marriage and death announcements in newspapers allows you to access this information in openly available records. These announcements provide not only dates and locations for key moments in an ancestor’s life but also names of parents and other relatives.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • For an ancestor’s death, sometimes a short death notice will appear in a newspaper, but a much fuller obituary might appear a few days later in the same paper.
  • If you are looking for a more recent obituary, many newspapers publish their obituaries online. Try searching online with quotation marks around your ancestor’s name. Search using the city name and year, if known, e.g., “Brown, George” obituary Vancouver 2005.
  • Detailed birth announcements became popular only in the latter half of the twentieth century, while marriage and death announcements appeared earlier in newspapers.
  • Many newspaper announcements have been indexed in a published format. If you do not know the date of an event but think that there may have been an announcement in a local newspaper, you can search in LAC’s Library Catalogue, Aurora, to see if there is a published index. Search using keywords, such as: genealogy, index and the newspaper name.
Three columns of text from newspapers, with information about deaths and marriages.

“Died,” Montreal Gazette, May 10, 1830, p. 3 (OCLC 20173495)
“Mariage à la Basilique,” Le Droit [Ottawa], April 1, 1913, p. 4 (OCLC 1081128098)
“Married,” The Palladium [Charlottetown], April 5, 1845, p. 163 (OCLC 18249106)
“Died,” The Palladium [Charlottetown], April 5, 1845, p. 163 (OCLC 18249106)

Accidents and crimes

Many researchers have family stories about ancestors involved in accidents, crimes or unusual events, but these stories can be hard to confirm. Fortunately, many of those types of events were covered in local newspapers. If you have an idea of when and where the event occurred, it may be worthwhile to peruse the area’s local newspaper. Some of these events are also referenced in published newspaper indexes.

Alt text: Two columns of text from newspapers, with the headings “Imprisonment for Libel” and “Killed by Lightning.”

“Imprisonment for Libel,” The Palladium [Charlottetown], February 22, 1845, p. 114 (OCLC 18249106)
“Killed by Lightning,” The Phoenix [Saskatoon], August 22, 1906, p. 6 (OCLC 16851731)

Ship arrivals

When did my ancestor arrive in Canada? This is a common genealogy question; fortunately, LAC holds passenger lists from 1865 to 1935. However, the majority of lists have not survived from prior to 1865, and it can be difficult to find immigration information for ancestors. Alternatively, most major newspapers, as well as those in coastal cities, recorded ship arrivals and departures. In rare cases, passenger names were included. The chance of finding a reference to your ancestor is higher if he or she was considered a person of importance. This information was often found in the business section of a newspaper, under Shipping News or Marine Intelligence.

The website The Ships List is a great resource for information about passenger ships and includes some lists of names found in newspapers.

A column of text from a newspaper, with the heading “Port of Quebec.”

“Port of Quebec,” Montreal Gazette, May 10, 1830, p. 3 (OCLC 20173495)

Social news

Many newspapers included news items about the local happenings in the town, sometimes describing when a resident had family visiting or had been travelling abroad. Although these notations do not always include genealogical information, it can be interesting to know what your ancestors were doing. Newspapers for larger cities would mainly focus on high-society individuals.

Two columns of text from newspapers, with the headings “Granby” and “Compton,” which provide information about residents of the towns.

“Granby,” Sherbrooke Daily Record, June 5, 1905, p. 3 (OCLC 12266676)
“Dans Les Cantons de L’Est : Compton,” La Tribune [Sherbrooke], May 25, 1910, p. 4  (OCLC 16390877)

If you are visiting LAC, use Aurora to search and order newspapers before your visit. You can also consult the geographical list of LAC’s newspapers on microfilm (some references include a note indicating they are available online). Our Places pages also include links to websites that include digitized newspapers. As well, you can inquire at your local library about borrowing newspapers for your research.


Emily Potter is a Genealogy Consultant in the Reference Services Division of the Public Services Branch at Library and Archives Canada.