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L.M. Montgomery as a Photographer

photos of Nora at the Beach, the Kodak Girl, and Lionel Stevenson Some time in the 1890's Montgomery bought her first camera. When other people were getting bicycles, she decided to buy a camera, and she got much joy from it. While we do not know what kind of camera it was, we suspect it was a 4 X 5 model and that she lugged the camera and tripod into fields and woodlands and other people's parlors to get the images she wanted. The name "4 X 5" refers to the measurement in inches of the glass plate, rather than film, that was situated at the back of the camera. This type of camera is still in use though the glass plate negative and processing for it have changed to film. The photographs of Montgomery's scrapbook pages used in this exhibition were shot with a 4 X 5 camera similar to one Montgomery would have used.

Montgomery created a dark room in the Macneill homestead in Cavendish and experimented with special effects in processing, such as inserting a moon into a darkened daytime sky. Her 1902 article about photography, written while she was a reporter on the Daily Echo in Halifax, explains much about her fun and skill. She made inexpensive cyanotypes (blue prints) of her own photographs and made the images in various sizes. She used these cyanotypes to illustrate her scrapbooks and to send as cards or calendars to her friends. She took photographs for other people or for public functions at times, and sometimes someone may have used her camera to take a picture of her in an event she was photographing.

On the very first page of Montgomery's second memorabilia scrapbook, she pasted an advertisement cut-out of the "Kodak Girl," meant to suggest how effortless and fashionable is photography when a camera can be carried like a fashion accessory. When Nora Lefurgey, the Cavendish school teacher, came to board at the Macneill's in the winter of 1903, part of their hilarious times together was spent taking photographs. That summer, Maud and Nora took photographs of each other at the shore.

various ways Montgomery used cyanotypes

Little Fellow's PhotographMontgomery took photographs for her own entertainment, but she may also have realized that her chances of having a poem or story accepted could be increased by including her own illustrations for them. Several of her turn-of-the-century stories and poems, preserved in scrapbooks not on display in this exhibition, have photographs of Cavendish and even her own bedroom as illustrations.

When Montgomery recopied her journals in 1919 into a set of uniform-sized ledgers, she illustrated those entries with her own photographs, possibly raiding her old scrapbooks for images.

It is surprising that Montgomery did not make photography a major part of any of her novels. In Anne of Windy Poplars (1936) she included one episode about photography, and this was borrowed from her own short story, printed some thirty years before. Note the cover illustration for "The Little Fellow's Photograph" and the camera equipment Montgomery herself mentions in her Echo article on photography.

Photography and Travel
Early Photography | L.M. Montgomery as a Photographer | L.M. Montgomery's Article on Photography | International Kodak Competition | Kunard's Article
Story of L.M. Montgomery's Travels | Sample Images of Her Travels: Out West : Boston : Wedding and Honeymoon

go to LM Montgomery Institute at UPEI Website go to University of Guelph Website go to Lucy Maud Montgomery Birthplace Website go to Virtual Museum of Canada Website go to Confederation Centre of the Arts Website go to National Library of Canada Website go to English Home Page go to French Homepage photo of Nora Lefurgey on the Cavendish shore Kodak Girl photo of Lionel Stevenson cyanotype of a house cyanotype of shore cyanotype of a school house cyanotype of wedding