Edwin C. Blair

Firstnames: 
Edwin C.
Surname: 
Blair
Date died: 
Wed, 1945-12-12
Date buried: 
Mon, 1945-12-17
Cemetery block: 
23
Cemetery plot: 
67
Plot location: 
49° 12' 56.52" N, 122° 54' 7.3332" W
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Edwin Clay Blair Canadian Photographer

EDWIN CLAY BLAIR , my 3x great-uncle, was born on 12 September 1862, in North River, Colchester County, Nova Scotia, to Robert Blair and Jane Blair [Lynds]. He was a youngest son of a baptist farmer. His father was descended from Ulster Scots who were the first settlers of the area. His mother was of Irish descent but had also been born and raised in North River.

When Edwin reached adulthood, he immigrated to the USA where he worked for his brother Thomas H. Blair who was the founder of the Blair Camera Company. Edwin managed several of their stores including locations in New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago. He was also a photographer. He married and had a son. Despite all his accomplishments and assets, he began to suffer mental illness, and it cost him everything. His wife divorced him, and he left to Canada. Here he was in and out of treatment for years. During the times that he was well he was a traveling photographer. He loved Canada and taking photographs of real life people. I feel during this time he was following his real dreams and maybe he felt free in a way that he didn't in the States. Today his photos document the time period in which he lived. I have found over 40 photographs so far, in 8 museums including, The British Library in England, The Alberni Valley Museum in BC, The Saskatchewan Rail Museum, The Autry Collection, The Peel Library of Alberta, and Glencoe Museum. And I keep finding more. He is recognized by the Manitoba Historical Society as a photographer of the 20th Century.

Edwin spent his old age in Essondale. His death certificate only says he suffered from “paranoia”. I don't know what those years of his life were like for him. His grave was among those that were desecrated in this cemetery although his name is recorded on the memorial in Woodlands Park. I thought it was a shame that there wasn't more to remember him by.

You can see some of my uncle's photography through the following links:

-BRITISH LIBRARY OF ENGLAND (Images of Canada)
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:At_River_John,_Nova_Scotia,_August_1918_Beached_whales_(HS85-10-34532).jpg

-ALBERNI VALLEY MUSEUM
http://portalberni.pastperfect-online.com/39526cgi/mweb.exe?request=reco...

-PEEL LIBRARY OF ALBERTA
http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/postcards/PC003630.html

-GLENCOE MUSEUM
http://ww2.glenbow.org/search/archivesPhotosResults.aspx

-THE AUTRY COLLECTION
http://collections.theautry.org/mwebcgi/mweb.exe?request=record;id=PE213...

-ARCHIVES OF ALBERTA
https://hermis.alberta.ca/paa/PhotoGalleryDetails.aspx?CollectionID=2&st...

-MILLET AND DISTRICT MUSEUM AND ARCHIVES
http://www.albertaonrecord.ca/is-mil-1-398

MANITOBA HISTORICAL SOCIETY
http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/photographers/

2 copies of photos but identities unknown

I am a family genealogist & in my searches among new family members, I discovered 2 of these interesting photos. Unfortunately they were not identified with the exception of the photographer being Edwin C Blair. I can give a few more details on the above information if interested. I do not have the originals in my possession - only photo copies as the originals had been lent to me by a new found 'cousin' several years ago.