Fonds PR-1348 - Ernest Crocker fonds

Reception of Governor General the Duke of Connaught and the Duchess of Connaught on the steps of ... J.J. Robinson, shipwright and boatbuilder; building with sign and boats on waterfront. The Hotel St. Francis, lower Yates Street, between Government and Wharf Streets, Victoria, BC; Bo... Kimbolton, the William Fernie home on Oak Bay Avenue, Victoria. The Great War album Portraits; Siberian Expeditionary Force Soldier from Siberian Expeditionary Force Portraits; Siberian Expeditionary Force Soldier from Siberian Expeditionary Force Canadian Siberian Expeditionary Force soldiers Portraits; Siberian Expeditionary Force Portraits; Siberian Expeditionary Force Portraits; Siberian Expeditionary Force Portraits; Siberian Expeditionary Force Portraits; Siberian Expeditionary Force Portraits; Siberian Expeditionary Force Portraits; Siberian Expeditionary Force 2nd Depot Battalion officer portraits 2nd Depot Battalion officer portrait 2nd Depot Battalion officer portrait 2nd Depot Battalion officer on horse 2nd Depot Battalion officer on horse Departure of troops on SS Monteagle CSEF leave Willows Camp CSEF wait to board SS Monteagle CSEF wait to board SS Monteagle CSEF prepare to leave Willows Camp CSEF prepare to leave Willows Camp CSEF Officer and Sergeant at wharf SS Monteagle departs Victoria
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Ernest Crocker fonds

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  • graphic material

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the contents of the fonds.

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  • 1902-1946 (Creation)
    Crocker, Ernest William Albert

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Physical description

Approximately 6000 photographs (glass plate negatives, flexible negatives and prints).

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Biographical history

Ernest William Albert Crocker was born in Yorkshire, England in 1877. In 1902, he immigrated to Canada, passing through the United States, and establishing himself in Winnipeg, Manitoba. From there, he moved to Vancouver where he started the Trio Photograph and Supply Company with two other English emigrants in 1903. They soon moved to Victoria but disbanded shortly afterwards, leaving Crocker to continue as the sole photographer at the studio.

Crocker’s early years as a photographer were marked by his postcards and other tourism photography which he sold at the Empress Hotel’s cigar shop. This enterprise caught the eyes of Victoria financiers who contracted Crocker to photograph mining prospects in the south, taking him to Mexico in 1910.

During the First World War, Crocker worked as an independent photographer under the Trio name at a military camp established at Exhibition Grounds at Willows. Several of these pictures appeared in newspapers. After the war, he continued photographing military subjects, contracting his services to several military training camps around Victoria. He also photographed important dignitaries, including members of the Royal Family while on official visits. During this time, Crocker also diversified his portfolio with landscape and portrait photography, snapshotting scenes around Vancouver Island, the Mainland Coast, the CPR route and the Cariboo Trail, some of which were published. Down the Cowichan River, Crocker also took photographs of Aboriginal communities.

During the Second World War, Crocker again focused his work on Victoria’s military activities, photographing officials and visiting military dignitaries at Work Point Barracks in Esquimalt and at the Officers Training Camp at Gordon Head. In 1946, renovations forced Crocker to vacate his suite on the top floor of the Imperial Bank Chambers where his studio had been established for 38 years. He never reopened his studio.
After the closure of the Trio studio, Crocker continued to reside in Victoria. As his health declined, he was moved to a nursing home where he passed away in 1968.

Custodial history

The Crocker/Trio records consist of several accessions. The earliest material was collected by the BC Archives and its predecessors as early as the end of the First World War, with the bulk of the material acquired in two periods between the 1940s and the 1960s either directly through Crocker or through his friends and estate executor apparently acting on his behalf.

Several boxes of glass plate negatives were purchased directly from Crocker in March 1946, around the same time his photography studio closed. As Crocker’s health declined, the remaining photographs were primarily in the custody or care of Crocker’s friends, notably Forest Counsel Clarence Cooper of the Forest Service, Gordon Hardy (former electrician at the Empress), W.F. Gordon, Percy Walls and Humphrey Toms who was also the executor of his estate. These men were involved to some extent in the management and organization of material before transfer to the Archives. The collection appears to contain evidence of this as there are box annotations, image descriptions, numbering, and weeding/presorting of original materials that do not appear to have been done by the creator and his potential studio partners.

In the early 1960s, “three apple boxes” full of photographs were donated to the Archives by Clarence Cooper. In 1963, Cooper noted that Crocker had more plates of “events taken throughout the whole of BC” that he was looking to transfer to the Archives. Around this time, correspondence reveals that Gordon Hardy would be delivering “several small boxes” of prints and that Mr. Cooper would donate another box of miscellaneous prints. In 1965, a box of photographic prints was picked up from Mr. Percy Walls and transferred to the Archive. Around 1970, several glass negatives were donated by W.F. Gordon. Finally in 1982, an album with 22 postcards and 3 loose prints was donated by Humphrey Toms.

The collection has been the focus of several processing initiatives from the 1980s to 2000s. This included the rehousing of the smaller sized original negatives and the production of several modern contact prints.

Scope and content

The fonds consists of Crocker's glass plate negatives, photographic prints (including postcards), flexible negatives, photo albums and ephemera related to his photography studio. There is a strong presence of military-related material, with the majority of photographic records created in Victoria and the surrounding area. Some photographs were however taken as far as England, Winnipeg, California and Mexico. Other subjects present in the collection are portrait photography, scenic views and event photography (funerals, political visits, parades, weddings, etc.).

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Archives code(s): 198011-011.

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Accession number(s): 198011-011

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