Carole Harmon Editions

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Wilderness Expeditions Portfolio (continued)

I know of no official reason for this change in his career focus but surmise that several factors were at play. Byron’s first child, Aileen, was born on January 13, 2012 and his second child, Lloyd was born in 1914 with Donald following in 1917. This would have dictated more flexibility and time at home which is evidenced by the dates of subsequent photographic trips. The outbreak of war in Europe certainly dampened alpine activities during the war years. Also, many ACC members were by now accomplished amateur photographers and the focus of the Canadian Alpine Journal shifted to include broader contributions from members.

Primarily, however, Byron began to organize his own expeditions, hiring guides and outfitters as required and planning the trips with photography as the primary goal. I know from records in the National Film Board of Canada Archives that a feature film covering the journey from Lake Louise to Jasper and Mt. Robson was completed by 1917 although no copy of this film has yet been found. Byron’s love of storytelling came to the fore with cinematic staging of wilderness activities evident even in the still photographs of these excursions.

Byron’s longer trips often took several weeks to months in the summertime and his traveling companions were, as often as not, old friends such as guide Conrad Kain,
guide and outfitter Jimmy Simpson, outfitter and dogsled operator Ike Mills, and local cowboys such as Ulysses LaCasse, Rob Baptie, and Soapy Smith. His companions were the subjects in his photographs and often had to endure long waits while the photographer got his cameras set up in the right position.

Byron must have been a technology adept. After all he is remembered as making his first camera, a pinhole camera, himself. He photographed with a motion picture camera which appears in many shots of Byron himself, evidence that these were set up as self portraits with his movie camera, the shutter of the still camera operated by one of his party. Many of his still photographs were taken with a 5”x7” Speed Graphic but he also took stills with a panorama camera, stereo camera, a variety of smaller sheet film cameras, and in the 1930’s started experimenting with a camera which used 21/4 roll film.