Rare Merit

Rare Merit

Women in Photography in Canada, 1840–1940

by Colleen Skidmore

Published by: UBC Press

325 pages, 191.00 x 254.00 x 0.00 mm, 161 photographs, 2 maps

  • ISBN: 9780774867054
  • Published: June 2022


As Canada took shape in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, the camera was there throughout as both a witness to the colonialism, capitalism, and gendered and racialized social organization, and as a protagonist. And women across the country, whether residents or visitors, photographed people and places that were entirely new to the lens. Rare Merit examines how they did so, and the meanings their work carries.

Colleen Skidmore surveys the professional lives and photographs of nearly eighty women – studio portraitists, travel documentarians, photojournalists, fine artists, hobbyists, and photographic printers – from Lucy Maude Montgomery on Prince Edward Island to Élise Livernois in Quebec City, and from Margaret Bourke-White in the Arctic to Hannah Maynard on Vancouver Island.

Why women? Why not women? Presenting the exceptional range and impact of their work, Rare Merit proves that women’s practices and images – knowingly omitted from founding narratives of photographic history – were diverse, compelling, widespread, and influential.