Fonds PR-2155 - Duncan Macphail fonds

CFCT broadcasting station, Victoria. The interior of Shotbolt's Pharmacy; T. Shotbolt, Chemist and Druggist, Johnson Street, Victoria The staff at Shotbolt's Pharmacy, Johnson Street, Victoria Fountain Service Station, Government Street, Victoria. Fountain Service Station; at the round-about at the intersection of Government, Hillside, Douglas... Fountain Service Station, Government Street near Douglas, Victoria. Victoria High School Cadets Victoria High School Cadets. BC Telephone truck, Victoria BC Telephone crew on telephone poles; Victoria. BC Telephone switchboard operator, Victoria. St. Joseph's Hospital Women's Auxiliary; photo taken on the steps of the the Humboldt Street entr... Interior Of The BC Telephone Co. Air Raid Shelter, Sidney. Exterior Of The BC Telephone Co. Air Raid Shelter, Sidney. Fire Damage At 1152 Yates Street, Victoria. Victory Loan booth Bank of Montreal, Victoria BC Electric First Aid Room, Victoria Victory Loan window; Hudson's Bay Company, Victoria. Interior of Fletcher's Men's Wear, Victoria. Modernage Builders recently completed home on either Ross or Moss Street, Victoria. Falconer Marine's 'Moresby #3', Victoria. Falconer Marine's 'Moresby #3', Victoria. Falconer Marine's 'Rosarah', Victoria. The British American Paint Company (Bapco) Plant, Inner Harbour, Victoria. Oak Bay Wanderers Rugby Team. Looking North Up Douglas Street, From The Roof Of A Building On View Street, Victoria Vancouver Island Coach Lines Greyhound Bus, Victoria. Vancouver Island Coach Lines Greyhound Bus, Victoria. Building Boat For Yellowknife At Yarrows, Victoria. Building Boat For Yellowknife At Yarrows, Victoria.
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Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Duncan Macphail fonds

General material designation

  • graphic material
  • textual record
  • multiple media

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Title notes

  • Source of title proper: Title based on contents of the fonds.
  • Variations in title: Previously known as the "Duncan C. Macphail collection."

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Dates of creation area


  • 1938-1965 (Creation)
    Macphail, Duncan

Physical description area

Physical description

ca. 8000 photographs and 5 cm of textual records

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Archival description area

Name of creator

Biographical history

Duncan Macphail was born June 19, 1910 in Greenock, Scotland, and emigrated to Canada in 1924. He lived in North Vancouver and other parts of Greater Vancouver, and married Margaret Kelso in 1937. There is no information available about his education or how he started in the field of photography. In 1938 he exhibited photographs in the First Annual Exhibition of Photography, at the Canada Pacific Exhibition in Vancouver. In 1942, Macphail moved to Victoria, and worked for photographers Ed Savannah and Robert H. Fort. In about 1948 he entered into the partnership Fort-Cowx-Macphail, with Fort and A. Melville Cowx, doing commercial and portrait photography. About 1950 the company became Fort-Macphail. He also worked for Victoria Press as a senior display salesman for many years. Duncan Macphail died in Victoria on June 2, 1994.

Custodial history

Most of the records (accession 198110-006) are negatives which Duncan Macphail donated to the BC Archives ca. 1970. 24 photographs (accession 2011.175) were donated by Valerie Barman, daughter of Duncan Macphail, in 2011.

Scope and content

The fonds consists of photographs from the late 1930s to the early 1950s, taken by Duncan Macphail, a portrait and commercial photographer. Most of the photographs were taken in the Victoria area, a smaller number in other south Vancouver Island locations and in Vancouver. They cover a vast range of subjects, including: Victoria street scenes, interiors and exteriors of buildings and business operations, industrial infrastructure, portraits, community and school events, and special events such as the visit of Princess Elizabeth to Victoria in 1951. It appears that Macphail did commercial photography for the B.C. Department of Highways (possibly in the early 1960s) but it is not known if these photographs are in the fonds. In addition to Macphail's commercial and portrait photography, the fonds consists of a small number of “art” photographic prints, matted for display in exhibitions. These cover various subjects, including totem poles. One is tagged with "Exhibited - First Annual Exhibition of Photography, Canada Pacific Exhibition. Vancouver, 1938." Macphail's original indexes are in container 000358-0037.

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Restrictions on access

  • No restrictions on access.
  • Conservation restriction: material in cool or cold storage requires special retrieval and handling.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Photographs created prior to January 1, 1949 are in the public domain.

Finding aids

  • There is a finding aid, and a guide ("Instructions for Macphail Collection Researchers" guide). Some prints are available for viewing in the Archives reading room. 1806 photographs have item-level descriptions available through the catalogue on the BC Archives website; with some of these, a digital image is provided.
  • A box list is available in the accession file along with a list of the 8 x 10 negatives.

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No further accruals are expected.

General note

Archives code(s): 89-0937, 2011.175.1, 198110-006.

General note

Accession number(s): 89-0937; 2011.175.1; 198110-006


Graphic material may be in cool or cold storage. Contact staff for specific details.

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