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 Include images of partners





Boorne & May Collection (C402)

1883-1932. - 20 cm of textual records. - 402 photographs : prints and negatives ; b&w.

Administrative History - Biographical Sketch:

William Hanson Boorne was trained as a pharmacist and emigrated to Bird's Hill, Manitoba, from Bristol, England, in 1882. He moved to Calgary in 1885 and decided to become a professional photographer. He had been an amateur photographer in England. He appears to have opened a business on his own account in Calgary for a short time.

He returned to England to buy photography equipment and to convince his cousin, Ernest Gundry May, who also had photographic experience, to open a photography studio with him in Calgary. The firm, Boorne and May, opened in 1886 with Boorne as photographer and May as darkroom technician. Their photographs deal mainly with railway construction, the development of towns and cities and mountain scenes.

Boorne married May Woolridge Hichens and they had at least one child, Edgar Percy (1890-?). In 1889 May was appointed Clerk of the Supreme Court and the partnership was dissolved.

During the First World War he served as lieutenant-colonel and district assistant to the adjutant general in Ottawa.

He married Eliza Mary May Paice in 1888 and they had three children, Gerald, Roderick George (1889-?), and Norah (Upper). They lived on a ranch west of Calgary. May died after 1929. Boorne opened a branch studio in Banff in 1889, and one in Edmonton in 1891. The Calgary headquarters was located on 3rd Avenue SW and it was here that stock photographs, souvenir albums and magic lantern slides were produced. The portrait studio on 8th Avenue SW was also the retail outlet for the company's products. The company was incorporated as Boorne and May Co. Ltd. in 1892, but by 1893 it was in financial trouble. Boorne sold the Edmonton studio to C. W. Mathers and the other studios folded. Boorne moved to Vancouver and then back to England to work as a chemical engineer. Boorne died in 1945.

(Sources: Archives Network of Alberta, the Glenbow Archives, modified with information found on the photographs in the Notman Photographic Archives.)

Scope and Content:

The Boorne and May collection deals with the work and life of William Hanson Boorne and Ernest Gundry May.

The collection contains original photographs, catalogues, correspondence and notes from Boorne, portraits of Boorne and May, and research notes.

The original photographs show Boorne's first home; farming and ranching scenes (the High River cattle round-up in 1886); portraits of Sarcees and the sun dance ritual (1887); and his trip along the Canadian Pacific Railway line through Banff and area, the Selkirk Range, the Columbia River area, Fort Steele, the Kootenay area and Vancouver and Victoria (1889).