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1905 - 1916 (Creation)
- Byron-May Company
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Name of creator
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.
Scope and content
The series consists of Byron-May Company photographs from the Byron-May album. Many were part of their business, including images commissioned by the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce. The photographs include buildings, sports events, agriculture, exhibitions, street and river valley scenes, and military personnel. At the time, these photographs were used to promote Edmonton as an up-and-coming city.
Other commissioned photographs, such as family or home portraits, show not only the growth of the Byron-May Co. and the booming prosperity of Edmontonians at the time, but also reflect the increasing popularity of photography in the early twentieth century.
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The material was arranged according to the filing system of the creator.
The photographs were assigned item numbers with the prefix EB-23.
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See Scope and content above.
Accession number: A77-140
Photographer: Byron-May Co.
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