Notman Studio collection

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Notman Studio collection

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  • [ca. 1869]-[ca.1920] (Creation)
    Notman Studio (Halifax, N.S.)

Physical description area

Physical description

13.7 m of graphic material (ca. 15,000 photographs)

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Administrative history

Notman Studio, Halifax opened in 1869, the fourth branch studio of the photographic firm established by William Notman at Montreal in 1856. Oliver M. Hill, trained in the studio, became manager in 1876. In 1885 Notman bought out The Halifax Photographic Company, also known as Millman and Ray, from W.H. Webb who had purchased it in 1880. Hill purchased Notman Studio, Halifax from William Notman's heirs after the latter's death in 1891 and operated it until his own death in 1923. Hill left instructions in his will that the studio be sold. His daughter Amy (Isabella Amelia), a partner in the studio since 1912, continued to manage it for two years after his death. His daughter (Olive) Muriel then managed it for about a year until it closed in 1925 or 1926.

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Biographical history

Oliver Massey Hill was born in England in 1848 or 1849, son of the Rev. James Ormerod Hill of Elginbrook House, Hereford. He emigrated to Canada in the early 1870s and shortly after obtained employment as a clerk at Notman Studio, Halifax. Hill trained there as a photographer and became manager in 1876. After William Notman's death in 1891, Hill purchased the studio and remained its proprietor until his death in 1923.

Custodial history

Collection was accumulated by the Archives from various private sources prior to 1960.

Scope and content

Collection consists of photographs taken by Notman Studio of Halifax, Nova Scotia and consists mainly of individual and group portraits of residents of, and visitors to, Halifax. Also includes naval ships and personnel, and buildings, streets and views of Halifax, as well as other Nova Scotian communities, including Antigonish, Canso, Dartmouth, Grand Pré, Musquodoboit Harbour, Sheet Harbour, Truro and Whitehead. Predominantly proof prints; also includes glass negatives, both wet- and dry-plate. Photographs organized by format, and within each format by original negative/proof print number.

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Physical condition

Proof prints were cut by a previous owner, singly or in blocks, from the studio's proof print order books. Some proof prints, since discarded, showed signs of fire and water damage.

Immediate source of acquisition


The studio assigned numbers to their negatives in chronological sequence up to 99,999 and then repeated the sequence. As original order has been lost, photographs from more than one chronological sequence have been interfiled in a single numerical sequence within each format.

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Contact prints available for glass negatives.

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General note

Collection contains a few photographs whose attribution to Notman Studio may be doubtful. All items numbered 100,000 and above were assigned by the Archives.

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