Robert Norwood fonds

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Robert Norwood fonds

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Reference code

MG 1 volume 1592D; Graphic: 1987-480, 1987-481, 1991-447; Film/Sound: Fc2151-Fc2153.

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  • 1927-1982, predominant [194-]-[195-] (Creation)
    Norwood, Robert, 1905-1985

Physical description area

Physical description

  • ca. 4500 photographs
  • 1 folder of textual records
  • 3 film reels

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Robert W. Norwood, professional photographer, was born at Hubbards, N.S. on 4 April 1905, the eldest son of Dr. Edward Norwood and Stella (Keans). He attended St. Mary's High School in Halifax and returned to Hubbards where he worked odd jobs to help support his family after his father's death in 1918. When Norwood was nineteen, he accompanied his uncle, poet and Anglican clergyman Dr. Robert Norwood, to New York. There he learned photography while working as an assistant to art and fashion photographer Edward Steichen. Norwood left Steichen's firm in 1929 and briefly joined a large photographic firm in Philadelphia before returning to Nova Scotia in 1930. He married Ruth Brownie of Ingramport at Halifax and practiced photography in Liverpool, New Glasgow and Hubbards before opening his own studio on Barrington Street in Halifax in 1938. From 1947 to 1964 he was staff photographer for the Halifax Herald. Norwood continued to do freelance photography for the newspaper and began a second career in filmmaking, producing short, scenic news, and documentary films for CBC and also on a freelance basis. In 1976 he and his wife retired to Shoreham Village near Chester, where he died on 4 November 1985.

Custodial history

The Public Archives of Nova Scotia purchased 434 photographs from Robert Norwood in 1981 and received the material in two parts, in 1982 and 1983. In 1987 and 1991 his son Edmund Norwood donated to the archives most of Norwood's remaining negatives taken as a professional photographer, as well as his textual records and films.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of photographs (negatives, prints, slides, transparencies) taken by Norwood as a professional photographer. The main subject of Norwood's work are scenes and activities on the Halifax waterfront. Other images are of Halifax streets, buildings and activities; Nova Scotian fishing villages and activities relating to fisheries; scenic views of Nova Scotia; and portraits of individuals, some of which were taken in New York City and at Norwood's Halifax studio, including prominent Nova Scotians and military personnel. Other subjects of his photographs include traditional methods of agriculture, coopering, blacksmithing, and transportation; the construction of the Canso Causeway and the Angus L. MacDonald Bridge, Halifax; Springhill Mine disaster; Oak Island treasure hunt; Annapolis Valley Blossom Festival; Lunenburg Bicentennial Celebration; scenes of Halifax during the Second World War, mainly ships in the harbour; SS Empress of Britain leaving Halifax after the Royal visit in 1939; reconstruction of the Halifax Citadel; and the Fairey Aviation Canada plant at Dartmouth. Fonds also contains film footage of inshore fishermen and Annapolis Valley scenes, as well as correspondence, notes, newspaper clippings, and accounts pertaining to photographic equipment and supplies; and assignments with The Halifax Herald Ltd., The Toronto Star and Jack Chisholm Film Productions.

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Item-level photograph inventories are available for accessions 1987-480 and 1987-481.

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