Ryan, Jim, 1920-1998

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Ryan, Jim, 1920-1998

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  • Ryan, James
  • Big Jim Ryan

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Jim Ryan was born in Regina, Saskatchewan on December 25, 1920. At the age of fourteen, he left school and took a job as delivery boy for Chicago Photo Supply in downtown Regina. He worked there for six years and learned photographic developing and printing. In 1940 he joined the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve and was assigned to HMCS Naden in Esquimalt, British Columbia. He was active in the United Services lacrosse and hockey teams and soon became a Navy photographer. In 1942 he married Patricia (Patsy) Webster and over the next few years was based variously in Halifax, Victoria and Montreal. Between 1943 and 1948, Jim and Patsy had four children, Donna, Judy, Terry and Jamie. After the war, the family settled in Victoria and Jim transferred from the Naval Reserve to the Royal Canadian Navy. As well as working for the Navy, he worked as a photographer for the Victoria Daily Colonist newspaper. In 1949 he received an honourable discharge from the Navy and joined the Daily Colonist as a full-time newspaper photographer. He worked as a staff photographer until late 1953 when he was fired as a staff member but given a freelance position. He received a weekly retainer from the Colonist in exchange for giving them first choice to use his photographs in the paper. He also did freelance work and had his photographs published in Life Magazine, the Vancouver Sun, the Province, Liberty Magazine, the Toronto Star Weekly and Maclean's Magazine. He separated from Patsy and became involved with Hazel Martin whom he later married. In 1955, Jim became friend and official photographer to Premier W.A.C. Bennett. He took thousands of photographs of Bennett and in 1980 he published a book of them entitled "My Friend, W.A.C. Bennett." His freelance business was very successful throughout the 1950's and eventually Jim formed "Ryan Bros. Photo with his brother, Don Ryan. They handled wedding and portrait work as well as news assignments and political work. They also branched out into film production and made films about Victoria's centennial celebrations in 1962 and BC's centennial celebrations in 1971. In 1973, Jim joined the Victorian, a small Victoria paper which had a brief boom when a printing strike shut down the main Victoria papers. He stayed with the paper until it closed in November 1977. He continued to freelance for other papers and magazines and worked on various books of photographs. He died of cancer on July 4th 1998 in a Victoria hospice.


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KHUGHES 2010-12-09




Moving Images MI_CREATORS_CREDITS|Biographical sketch taken from "Big Jim Ryan" by Reg Reynolds, 1986 and an obituary published by the Times-Colonist on July 12, 1998.

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Created by: KHUGHES
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