Percy Byron arrived in Edmonton in April 1906 with the intention of ranching or farming. However he quickly realized there were no ‘photographic engraving’ businesses, ie businesses capable of producing publications with photographs, in the area at the time. In fact there were none between Winnipeg and Vancouver. As the son of famous New York photographer Joseph Byron, he saw an opportunity. Within twenty-four hours of arriving in Edmonton, he telegraphed his father to ship one ‘complete photographic engraving plant’. He set up a shop on First Street (now 101 Street) and by August he was producing photographic images.
The following year, Percy’s brother-in-law, Gustave May, joined him and the Byron-May Company was formed. While Byron-May are often credited with predominance in scenic imagery photography, a staple in their business was the capacity to produce illustrated catalogues and brochures with their photoengraving equipment. This was a crucial advantage in the early days of advertising.
By 1913, the Byron-May Co. had over 10 employees. As their business grew they found an investor and built a two-storey brick building at 252 Howard Avenue (now 100A Street). The Edmonton Chamber of Commerce commissioned the Byron-May Company to create images and produce brochures promoting Edmonton. Some of these images have become iconic in telling the history of Edmonton.
The Byron-May Company fell on hard times with the coming of World War I and the business was sold to McDermid Engraving in 1917. Both Percy Byron and Gustave May returned to New York with their families.