The Toronto Telegram photograph archives: preserved with the assistance of the Canadian Council of Archives

The National Archival Development Program (or NADP ) is administered by the Canadian Council of Archives and it – and it’s previous incarnations- have been vital in the completion of a number of projects here at the Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections. One of the strongest examples is the survival of the Toronto Telegram photographic archives despite the challenges of preservation and a serious case of vinegar syndrome. 

 The delicious smell of fish and chips: harbinger of photographic doom


Photograph of Del’s Fish & Chip Shop in Toronto, 24 June 1964 for an article on teenage gangs. Photographer: Browne. Image number: ASC04605.

The majority of modern photographic film is cellulose diacetate, which is an inherently unstable material. Over time, fluctuations in humidity and temperature can lead to spontaneous decay with the photographic image detaching from the chemical base and eventually becoming illegible. This chemical process results in an acidic odour very similar to vinegar, hence the term vinegar syndrome (or VS). A proactive approach is essential as VS is a contagious process: once one photographic negative begins to degrade, there is a cascade effect on adjacent materials.

Our shared documentary heritage: saved with the help of the CCA

From 1995 to 1998 archivists at York University applied for a combined $13,390 in funding from the CCA to purchase preservation supplies and conservation services to protect the photographic negatives of the Toronto Telegram. This initial investment (matched by $15,825 direct and $8,075 in-kind investment from the archives) has ensured that the photographic record of the Toronto Telegram has been preserved for researchers, publishers and scholars now and in the future.

Long-term outcomes of short-term investment in archival preservation

In the past year alone, the following publications and projects have drawn on images from The Toronto Telegram, including:

      and

That’s just the projects in the past year.  Over the past twenty years, the Toronto Telegram has been used in documentary films, history monographs and television programs.  The newspaper’s holdings have inspired student plays, have been used in undergraduate and doctoral research, gallery exhibits and art projects.

The Toronto Telegram is one of our largest archives and it is by far the most heavily used in our department.  From undergraduate students to international scholars, local historical societies to big corporations, there’s something for everyone in the Telegram.  Without the funding the Canadian Council of Archives twenty years ago, there’s no telling how much of this unique documentary heritage would have been lost to vinegar syndrome.

 

Above are a selection of photographs from the Toronto Telegram, including:

  • Three workers removing an item from a hurricane-destroyed home on Raymore Drive from 1954.  Photograper: Nelson Quarrington.

  • Two women in Resolute Bay sewing kamik in 1958. Photographer: Ward.

  • HRH Princess Elizabeth exiting the Legislative Assembly of Ontario after a tour of the building in 1951. Unknown staff photographer.

You can browse over 5,000 photographic prints and negatives from the Toronto Telegram on our institutional repository YorkSpace here.

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29 Responses to The Toronto Telegram photograph archives: preserved with the assistance of the Canadian Council of Archives

  1. Maggie Arbour says:

    Hello,

    I was wondering if you had any information on an exhibition (c. 1966) that the Toronto Telegram would have presented. The exhibition focussed on the anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of Soviet Russia in 1941 ….

    Thank you in advance for your assistance.

    Maggie Arbour

  2. Doug Wright says:

    I am trying to get more information about Rummy Rimes cartoons. My uncle used to draw them back in 1928, but when I Googled it, I found: Rummy Rims, Insurance Agents (cartoon for the Toronto Telegram) (1935). Can I access these cartoon to see if they are the same? Who would have a collection?

    • Anna St.Onge says:

      Hi Doug:
      I think your best bet is to look at the Toronto Telegram on microfilm to see if any of the cartoons were run in the 1920s. There are copies held at York University and the Toronto Public Library.

      What little documentation we have related to the operation of the newspaper relates to the editorials run by the paper. However, there may also be folders of mixed media and photographs related to cartoons from the 1920s and 1930s.
      We have two boxes of photographic prints that are categorized as “cartoons” but the only character identified is Pogo. What I would suggest that you arrange to come visit us and go through the boxes to see if there’s any trace of your uncle’s cartoons. Send an email to archives yorku ca and mention this posting and we can give you further details.
      best,
      Anna

  3. Rob says:

    I would like to obtain a copy of February 25, 1934 and January 08,1934

    Entire paper the best or front page only if available

    Kindly direct me to the best location ,

    Cheers

  4. Melissa Porretta says:

    Hi! I am doing a research paper on The Maple Leaf Gardens past concerts and performances by The Beatles, Elvis, Springsteen, KISS, Elton John, Sting etc., any idea where I could find reviews/setlists/newspaper articles/interviews on this? Thanks for your help!

    • Anna St.Onge says:

      Hi Melissa:
      I would suggest sending your request directly to the archives email (archives at yorku dot ca) and we can provide you with a detailed response.
      You may also be able to get research support from your local branch librarian at the University of Toronto.

  5. Cathy Bond says:

    Hi
    I am looking for pictures from the Toronto telegram of the Stanley cup parade in 1967 in Toronto . My uncle and dad are in the crowd at Toronto city hall of the Stanley cup win in May 1967.
    How can I get copies of the pictures from the parade in Toronto when it ended at city hall or where can I look to find the microfilm from that date??
    Thank you
    Cathy

    • Anna St.Onge says:

      Hi Cathy:
      You can contact us directly at the archives email (archives at yorku dot ca) for more information. We do have many photographic negatives of the Stanley Cup Parade in 1967 from The Toronto Star and if you’re able, I would recommend you arrange to visit us in person to go through them.

  6. Larissa Nowicki says:

    Hi Anna,
    Would you please help me to get a copy of a photograph published in the Toronto Telegram either Monday July 10, 1967 or Monday July 15, 1968 of a young Japanese girl in a kimono and running shoes? The picture would have been taken the previous Saturday (July 8, 1967 or July 13, 1968) at some kind of community event – possibly associated with the Toronto Buddhist Church. The little girl in the picture is my great friend Linda Hori and it appears Linda’s mother can no longer find the copy of the paper that she put away for “safe keeping”.

    • Anna St.Onge says:

      Hi Larissa:
      Archival staff will follow up to your request in detail by email. There are some photographic negatives that might include your friend but the Telegram negatives are not arranged chronologically, but rather by subject.

  7. Eleanor Queseberry Burtt says:

    Hello, Im looking for any news coverage on a accident that my father was killed in. accident happened Jan 30, 1962 Hwy 401 near Ajax I believe. Howard Quesenberry.

    Would appreciate anything you can find. thank you.

  8. Pat Egan says:

    I’m trying to get a reprint of a page from the Toronto Telegram that has a picture of my dad. The date is December 22, 1944, and he’s looking over the bombs of his Halifax before taking off over Germany. How do I get a reprint of that page?

    • Barbara Burt says:

      Hi Pat,

      You are lucky you have the exact date! The Toronto Public Library at Shepard and Yonge,has in the basement , the Toronto Star archives room where you can pull microfilm of all the old papers and print copies. I also recently phoned 416 869-4995 was referred to Mary Jo who found a photo of my husband’s grandfather with Princess Elizabeth in1951. Photos are 100.00 I think you get the entire page but you get an email copy first.

      Good luck

      Barbara

  9. Carolyn G says:

    Hi there,

    I’m looking for an image of two boys, (possibly a girl as well) around the timeframe of 1950. Their last name was Davison, and their picture was put in the paper because they used to deliver it.

    Any information that you could help me to find this image would be much appreciated!

    Thanks,

    Carolyn G.

    • Anna St.Onge says:

      Dear Carolyn:
      Your best bet is to contact archival staff by email (archives at yorku dot ca) for details.
      There’s a chance these photographs survive (there are folders of Telegram delivery boys) but we would need more information.

  10. Eris says:

    Hi

    I’m looking to get a copy of an image that appears in the book, I Remember Sunnyside (by Mike Filey), and is credited to Toronto Telegram photograph archives.
    Could someone let me know how I can go about getting a copy of the image?

    Thanks!

  11. Colby Bayne says:

    Hello,

    In a recent article on Torontoist.com about Elvis Presley’s concerts at Maple Leaf Gardens, a number of photos from the Toronto Telegram Archives were used. One of them shows my mother in the audience. How would I go about getting a copy? Thanks for your help!

    • Anna St.Onge says:

      Hi Colby!
      Thanks for getting in touch with us. One of our archival staff will be in touch by email to explain how you can get a copy of this image.

  12. Barbara says:

    Hello, I just wrote looking for the picture of my mom Dorothy,
    In her notes I see that is was taken by Nels Quarrington, she says
    he took her out to an 8ft snow bank gave her knitting to her and took the pic
    that made front page. winter 1944 would love the picture/
    thanks again, Barbara

  13. Barbara says:

    Hello, I am looking for a picture of my mother Dorothy Hudson
    on the front of the Toronto Evening Telgram. There was a large snowstorm
    in Toronto in 1944 and it is a picture of her on top of a snow drift, front page.
    She also worked there painting photos from black and white to colour.
    Interesting enough because I now restore old photos and paint with the aid of
    photoshop on my computer.
    My sister and I are looking for this as my mother has just passed away.
    thank-you and best regards

  14. Randy Curran says:

    Where can I go to get a copy of the front page of the old Telegram from Novmeber 28, 1952?

  15. Wendy Lubniewski says:

    Just curious how I could find out if a certain picture is in the archives. Apparently back in the 1930′s – maybe early 1940′s my great grandparents were photographed with all of their grandchildren and it was published in the Toronto Telegram. The family name was Plummer. They had over 100 grandchildren. Is there a way to find out if this picture survived, and if so, how I could get a copy? Thanks!

    • Anna St.Onge says:

      Hi Wendy!
      I will follow up with you directly with some advice on how to approach this search.
      If a copy has survived in the Toronto Telegram Photograph Collection, we can certainly make a high resolution scan for your personal use for $10.00 per image.

  16. Dianne says:

    I am trying to find a Picture from the 1950′s of Davie Keon, George Armstrong & some other Hockey Players. The Picture was taken at The Sacred Heart Orphanage run by the Sisters of St. Joseph in Toronto. My Husband was in that picture. He always talks about that picture & I would Dearly love to try & get a copy of it. I called the Sisters of St. Joseph Archives on Bayview Ave…edited for content…

    • Anna St.Onge says:

      Hi Dianne:
      I’ve followed up with you by email with more details.

      It is great that you have a number of important pieces of information: names, dates, locations and contexts.
      These kinds of keywords and time frames are useful when a researcher is attempting to navigate the over 1.4 million photographic prints and negatives in the Toronto Telegram.
      The Toronto Telegram Photographic Collection is arranged by subject headings (established by the Telegram staff) based on the assignment given to individual staff photographers. As a result, when you use our finding aids to locate promising assignments, you’ll have to rely on broad terms that might have been attributed to the image (i.e. The Toronto Maple Leafs, perhaps, or orphanages, charities, or special events).

      Another challenge is that even if you locate a photo assignment, there might be upwards of 30 – 50 photographic negatives in each envelope. This is where your intimate knowledge of the people involved will be useful in identifying the perfect image for your purposes. Another challenge is that before the Toronto Telegram photographic collection was donated to York University in the 1970s, the Toronto Sun newspaper had a first pass over the materials, and selected a number of photographic negatives that they deemed of ‘high-value’ for their own use. As a result there are very few photographs of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

      Despite the challenges, this kind of archival research can be very rewarding. I hope you’re able to come visit us in person and begin your own investigation!

  17. David Galbraith says:

    I am looking for an article and picture on the front page of the Toronto Telegram circa 1931-1933 of my wife’s brother ….edited for content… He had been in a Catholic Orphanage and they were beating him then he ran away. His mother….edited for content... is also in the same picture. My wife said the Telegram had the front page in pink. My wife is….edited for content…
    I hope you can help us or give us a contact person.

    • Anna St.Onge says:

      Hi David:
      Thanks for getting in touch. I have followed up with you by email with more details.
      The time period you mention is a bit tricky. We may have photographic prints in our personality files but I am not sure if they would have survived from the 1930s. This particular series of photographs have not yet been inventoried by archives staff and there is no finding aid available to search by last name.

      You may also wish to extract a fresh image of the article from the microfilmed copies of the Telegram.
      If you want to get a copy of the front page of an issue of the Toronto Telegram, your best bet is to look up the issue on microfilm reels held here, at the Scott Library’s Microtext Department (see here: https://www.library.yorku.ca/find/Record/12862) , or at the Toronto Reference Library (see here: http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDM2724880&R=2724880).

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