Chapter 4. Field research findings

Sequences of Time Arrested: the Kodachrome Toronto Registry Initiative

In this chapter

Without contest, the most rewarding portion of this SRP came from being able to review, first-hand, several thousand examples of Kodachrome images and scenes from around the city of Toronto, dispersed across eight decades. It was only while handling the actual film — particularly from before 1975 — did Kodachrome’s unmistakable properties, as explained in Chapter 2, really hit home.


Kodachrome maintains an objective, yet incredible consistency, but this is coupled with a subjective vibrancy and clarity that transcends technical specifications and bridges into appeals of emotion. This field review made it evident why locating and collecting sources of Toronto’s progression in Kodachrome is such an invaluable, urgent undertaking: the Registry delivers a new analytical tool to help scholars advance and facilitate their own comparative research questions. This chapter reviews what those sources have thus far yielded about Toronto.

While it was not the solitary objective for this SRP, the findings gleaned from this first round of field research — now a foundation of the Registry — were nevertheless illuminating, sometimes even astounding. On a note of disclosure: there were at least two separate instances when the impact and immediacy of the subject matter overwhelmed me to the point of pausing and crying before continuing onward.

These findings are preparing the groundwork that future researchers will consult for their own critical inquiry. This field work was also what helped to fine-tune the first iteration of the Registry. By directly reviewing nearly every collection added to the Registry (there were a couple of notable exceptions), it not only helped to improve element parameters and the eventual metadata structure for the Registry. As the researcher, it also allowed me an astonishingly rare chance to explore Toronto through windows which, held together, no one else has probably ever experienced.


By aggregating together many disparate sources for Kodachrome media, the film becomes more than just a medium for consistency. It also becomes a new lens for tracing how the Toronto of now emerged. As a finding aid, the Registry prepares a composite of Toronto along two discrete axes: one is temporality, the other is the gazes of multiple actors — each viewing Toronto and its elements in different ways. These ways reflect more than just a city. Over a time span of eight decades, these gazes chronicled the same city with the same medium. That lens was a stable, fixed palette. At each of these temporal placements and ways of seeing are the unique intersections.

Reputation for consistency

Kodachrome’s consistency was being lauded by medical researchers as far back as at least 1937 — ophthalmologists in particular (Bedell 1937; 1961a; 1961b) — as “an exemplary imaging standard which must not be jeopardized” (Holm and Krakau 2000, 24). Even other areas of scientific inquiry recognized Kodachrome’s potential dating to the very year the 16mm movie film went on sale (Clements 1935, 348). Several Kodachrome-based collections have in recent years emerged in digitized form as exemplars of this consistency. Four of these include the Fred Herzog collection (Vancouver street photography, the 1950s); the Farm Security Administration / Office of War Information collection (the U.S., 1939–1945); Indiana University’s Charles W. Cushman collection (globally, 1938–1969); and DOCUMERICA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sites of interest, the 1970s).

Kodachrome’s lens of perceptual consistency opens new research possibilities for architectural, social, economic, and environmental subjects in ways which attempting the same with any other kind of imaging media — at least, at this time — simply cannot. For self-apparent reasons, digital imaging from 75 years ago cannot be compared next to digital imaging of today. As a mass consumer-oriented product, Kodachrome was initially the only practical way — professional-only film products excluded — to document life in colour reliably and, as later realized, durably (Frost and Oppenheim 1960, 110). Once Kodak stabilized Kodachrome’s processing steps in 1938, its basic palette was set and crystallized for the next 72 years. Dozens of other colour emulsions appeared, but none was available for nearly as long (or with the same imaging properties as) Kodachrome. For example, Kodak’s professional Ektachrome line of colour-reversal film from 1950 was such a different creature from Ektachrome in 2010 that making a comparative analysis with a consistent palette is unfeasible: while both include embedded dye couplers in the emulsion (as do most colour films), the instability of early Ektachrome processing was notorious for fading quickly into deep magenta tones, rendering its slides largely unusable.

While photography remains indispensable for reviewing the historical traces of people, places, and events, as a strictly comparative tool for colour or texture analysis, the heterogeneity of other imaging media makes comparative consistency impractical. So to facilitate consistency, Kodachrome opened for the architectural historian a way to observe the temporal progression of the same structure and how its features evolved or deteriorated over time. For the art historian, sanctioned murals and unsanctioned graffiti, long lost to time, will stay preserved in perpetuity (one example of these ephemeral artworks includes the west-facing façade of the Gooderham & Worts flatiron building, whose murals were updated over the decades). For the cultural historian, ephemeral phenomena — shades of makeup, plastered event posters, the old street vending cart — can be observed again, all virtually in situ.

An assemblage of different photographers over time produced this rich tapestry of Toronto. Whether consciously or not, Kodachrome was used in each of these Registry entries to document or preserve some aspect of the city, events occurring within it, and the people who moved through parts of it. Fortunately for us, we are able to view the city in much the way they were seeing it on that day.

Registry summary

In all, thirty entries were added to the Registry prior to drafting this SRP. Some of the collections are already familiar to Toronto enthusiasts — the F.Ellis Wiley collection perhaps being the best known of these. Several others, meanwhile, remain relatively if not completely unknown. This was especially so for private collections: it remains unknown how much remains to be added to the open-ended Registry project. This will also be one of the greatest challenges as the Registry expands: it will require regular soliciting and seeking out of these collections, as well as making arrangements for places, times, and resources to meet to review and describe these collections to the Registry. The human-hours to be invested will require sources of seed funding which are yet to be identified.

For institutional and public collections, some entries were already conserved, catalogued, and digitized for previewing online — giving the general public glimpses of 20th century Toronto through Kodachrome’s lens. In others, the descriptions denoted by other finding aids lacked detailed summaries of the contents contained within; these records often did not specify whether colour media was Kodachrome or another type of film. It required manually inspecting the original media directly to determine and verify the film’s provenance.

This dearth of usable metadata was a challenge with many of the Registry entries found at the City of Toronto Archives. Using the process of elimination described in Chapter 3, correctly identifying Kodachrome media required several steps of verification-by-exclusion. This algorithm also helped to uncover possibly the largest public collection of Kodachrome slides documenting Toronto produced by one photographer: a single man named Harvey R. Naylor. His thoroughness and attention to detail during the lifetime of his work rivals every other Registry collection in quality, breadth, and sheer quantity. It was also all but unknown before it was reviewed and added as accession KT2011030.

(A side note about the Registry and the Kodachrome Toronto Flickr group: collections added voluntarily to the Flickr pool are not by default part of the Registry. An announcement was sent to the group to invite participation, but it was ultimately up to respective owners to request to have their work added. As the Registry matures, adding these photographers’ works will richly improve the Registry’s utility.)

Harvey R. Naylor

When the Registry was first proposed, it was prudent to maintain conservative expectations for what might emerge. Small collections or even mini-sets would have been enough to validate the rationale for its creation, but to add a substantial collection to the database — a centrepiece — would make this project all the more worthwhile.

Finding Harvey R. Naylor was that centrepiece. His collection emerged as the Registry’s standout — not least of which because of the sheer volume of his work, but also in the variety, detail, and consistent quality of his documenting Toronto during (morphologically and socially speaking) a highly transitional era. The Naylor collection is a flagship for how the Registry can be an essential resource for comparative critical research.


Naylor’s collection required a month to review in its entirety. Although his work is sparsely mentioned without detail in the City of Toronto Archives database (as Fonds 1526), his collection continues to remain unprocessed by staff archivists — principally due to limited human resources and the resulting backlog of archival collections in need of detailed analysis. For now, this review completed for Registry inclusion is what the City Archives is provisionally using as their working summary for cataloguing the contents contained in the Fonds [Appendix C].

The Naylor Fonds was received and conserved after acquisition by the Archives but was neither itemized nor digitized. The conserved collection, occupying four archival boxes, contains 117 themed File folders holding PVC-type portfolio sheets (each page with room for 20 slides). The File folders contain anywhere from five to 190 slides — on average, about 71 slides per folder. To identify individual slides, the position of the slide on the PVC page (and page number within the File folder) is used as the ad hoc co-ordinate identifier. For example, the “Yonge near Charles, west side: sunny AM storefront window view of Shoppers Record & Tape, 6 June 1975,” is slide 13, page 1 of File 002 — or “1975.06.06:f002p1s13” (where date format is This quoted description is from this SRP’s field notes and based on Naylor’s inscriptions on the slide’s cardboard sleeve.

With very rare exception, Naylor used Kodachrome exclusively — 99.8 per cent of this collection, to be precise. In all, of 8,324 slides counted, 8,303 of these were produced with Kodachrome; one slide from the 1950s was shot in Anscocolor (derived from Agfa’s first colour-reversal technology); nine slides were produced with Ektachrome; and eleven slides were an emulsion of unknown provenance. It is instructive to add how every non-Kodachrome slide experienced moderate-to-severe colour shifting (often the loss of cyan or yellow, resulting in a magenta-tinted slide). None of the Kodachrome slides showed colour shifting.

Figure 4.1. Typical inscriptions on Naylor’s slides (accession KT2011030) [Idlewild].

Figure 4.1. Typical inscriptions on Naylor’s slides (accession KT2011030) [Idlewild].

Naylor’s slides span exactly thirty years, from 29 May 1954 to 6 October 1984 — starting with spring tulips at Queens Park [File 082] and ending in front of a home television set, shooting live CBC coverage of a Toronto visit by the Queen and Prince Charles [File 107]. He meticulously inscribed metadata on the cardboard sleeves of most slides — using a date stamp on the day he remembered he shot the image; a brief description of the scene or subject; and, in some cases, a denotation of the lens used and the aperture at which the photo was shot [Figure 4.1]. This was in addition to the Kodak lab-printed month and year the film was processed (endemic to most Kodachrome slides processed by Kodak’s labs). Intentionally or not, Naylor was thinking ahead: these metadata are standard fields found in the EXIF (exchangeable image File format) metadata generated by digital cameras and mined by contemporary social media platforms like Flickr, Facebook, Twitpic, and others.

Naylor’s exquisite attention to detail and the time he devoted to describing and organizing his collection convey two things with certainty. One, Harvey was meticulous. Two, he was deeply passionate about Toronto. A few details about his own history emerge explicitly from his inscriptions, while the rest must be conjectured. While there is a real risk of speculating on one’s life without explicit confirmation (deserving of future inquiry for a Naylor monograph which is likely to spin off from the Registry), a basic profile on Naylor, merging the expressed with the inferred, is discussed in the next section.

Meeting Harvey

Despite the extensive scope of his collection, surprisingly little is known about Naylor’s life. Restricted-access administrative fields in Naylor’s record required Archives staff to obtain. They were able to provide additional, though limited details on his last known whereabouts. There was no other biographical data listed. On 20 March 1985, he was living in apartment 401 at 3 Massey Square, a tower near the Danforth and Victoria Park. It was on that day when Naylor legally transferred ownership and rights of his slides to the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto. He had no known next-of-kin, which suggests that he was probably not married, though some clues at the end of his work hints at having a network of friends (rather than being a social hermit). File 107, which covered what would be his very last week of photographic work in October 1984, reveals a few “get well soon”-themed greeting cards collected atop his television set.

His last known address is also somewhat intriguing, owing to where most of his work was shot — namely, points west of the Don River. Given this, it might be expected that Naylor would have photographed several areas east of the Don and in East York. This was not the case. Of those few, scenes were mostly confined to Broadview Avenue [Files 007, 069, 071, 102] and Queen East, adjacent to the Don [File 069]. By contrast, no slides documented the Danforth or areas further east. Given what is definitively known about Naylor, it is not unreasonable to guess that he probably passed away later in 1985 from a chronic illness or another health-related condition. His last work in October 1984, most of it from home, was probably a tipping point after which he was too infirm to continue. On File 038, Naylor documented three hospitals, including Toronto Western and Women’s College — both of which he remarked he had been hospitalized on three instances between 1981 and 1984. These slides were all shot during the summer of 1981, while his annotation was later appended.

By turning to annotations on Naylor’s slides and File folders (transcribed from original slide dividers from the boxes in which his slides were originally housed), a few details can be sussed. From the late 1950s, he was a TTC employee, possibly a streetcar driver. An abundance of slides from his files reflects extensive attention to detail for arterials, side streets, and their built form — particularly those arterials with streetcar tracks (e.g., St. Clair, Queen, King, etc.).

Naylor extensively chronicled the demolition of the TTC’s TSR-TRC rail shop in 1979, located at Front and George Streets [Files 057–059, 338 slides total]. Similarly, File 058 (176 slides total) chronicles the demolition of the Sherbourne Carriage House (Naylor’s shorthand: “C/H”) between 1980 and 1982. A few slides shot in the 1970s on Bathurst near Davenport, where the TTC’s Hillcrest yard is sited, comprise part of File 071. Given these clues, Naylor probably worked for the TTC for most, if not all of his career, while his photography was a side interest, albeit a major one.

The frequency of Naylor’s work starts out slowly during the 1950s and 1960s in the Kingsway and High Park, suggesting his formative years probably unfolded in the west end. This could mean he was born sometime during the later 1930s or early 1940s. These early slides documented exterior holiday lighting on houses, summery park scenes, and views overlooking the Humber River valley. This intermittent pace continued through the 1960s, with a few slides shot inside the University of Toronto and at the Toronto Islands.

It was evident that Naylor was a bit of a sidewalk flâneur, one whose preoccupations for built form and retail activity was central to his photographic approach. He was also a boating enthusiast, as evidenced by several files dedicated to marine vessels and ferries in Toronto Harbour and the Welland Canal [Files 110–115 and 117, totalling 257 slides]. In 1971, his work picked up as his in-depth studies of streets and architecture began in earnest. His pacing was maintained through 1984. Naylor was especially fond of King Street’s unique pastiche. On File 073, he wrote: “I love this street. It’s one of my favourites — east and west of Yonge.” For King Street, 175 slides of architecture, street scenes, and storefronts are contained in Files 073 and 074. These exclude other appearances of King Street edifices and scenes interspersed in other folders. He documented Queen Street in much the same way.

Naylor was also fond of beer. In File 077 [f077p2s13], he shot a slide of the Centre Island Brauhaus, adding, “The ‘Brauhaus’ m-m-m-m slurp!” The scene is a sunny, summery idyll, as surprisingly many of his slides were. (A note on Naylor’s technical command of Kodachrome is discussed later in this chapter.) Every few years, he took advantage of documenting the city on Canada Day — namely sunny days in 1962, 1967, 1971, 1975, and 1977. Also, his attention toward the city was greatest for areas east of Yonge Street and west of the Don. Within this corridor, most of these were south of Wellesley Street down to Front Street. This hints that Naylor was most familiarized with this area because it was nearby where he may have once resided. All the same, he may simply have been interested in much of the development within the bounds of the old Village of York, prior to Toronto’s incorporation in 1834. But given the degree of coverage dedicated to this area, it seems plausible, if not likely that Naylor lived in this area and photographed it extensively as a function of being there the most often.

If so, it is possible to hone in further on where he lived for a number of years. As neither a streetcar corridor nor a primary bus route, Naylor directed a lot of attention to Church Street, despite its modest architecture [Files 008, 071]. Interestingly, of the higher volume arterials nearby Church, east of Yonge (his most extensively documented street), Naylor explored relatively little of either Jarvis Street (a scant few in File 061, the “H, I, J, K, L, M, Mc, N, O street views”) or Sherbourne Street (a few in File 062, the “P, Q, R, S, Saint street views”). Both streets, even then, were adorned with older, even revered architecture dating to Toronto’s early years, yet he mostly passed on those for Church Street. As with Church, Carlton and Gerrard are fairly documented. Even side streets in the former Track — Alexander, McGill, Mutual, Gloucester, Gould, Monteith, and Maitland Streets — received far more attention than key business arterials elsewhere. The Track, then known for rooming houses, men’s bathhouses, panhandlers, sex work, and substance abuse-related homelessness, later became known as the nucleus for the queer rights movement in Toronto — now Church-Wellesley Village (de Saint-André 1985, C1).

Naylor’s technique

The consistency of Naylor’s work is both exemplary and emblematic of a photographer who was well-acquainted with both Kodachrome’s technical constraints and capabilities. He grasped the importance of proper exposure, good contrast in subject matter and, as available, good sources of key colours.

The years through which Naylor used Kodachrome spanned the last three revisions to Kodak’s lab chemistry (the K-11, K-12, and K-14 processes). As explained in Chapter 3, the chemistry process was updated slightly with each revision, but the end product was visually consistent and comparably durable. For a photographer in Toronto to use Kodachrome consistently over the span of decades is to produce a case example of how Kodachrome’s consistency is indispensable for comparative research. Naylor’s work hints at a few techniques he maintained throughout, techniques which further elevated the quality of his work.

Repeat visits

Naylor revisited several of the same locations from earlier years to track the subtle changes to buildings and streetscapes. This is a baseline for comparative consistency, since he controlled his own methods for using the same medium.

Walnut Hall on Shuter Street, built in the 1850s, is one such case. Walnut Hall was Toronto’s oldest surviving Georgian building before crumbling mysteriously during Victoria Day weekend 2007 (Kyonka 2007, A2). Naylor first visited it on 4 May 1971 [f062p7s2] and returned 24 April 1979 (slides 2–4 in the same file, page 8). In between, the masonry was modified from brick-red to a sandstone hue (which is how the building appeared when it crumbled). It is worth noting that these are the only currently known Kodachrome slides of Walnut Hall to exist (known to the Registry, at least); all other photos are black-and-white or, at the very end, digital.

Likewise, Naylor documented how Old City Hall changed. In 1971, his slides show soot-laden masonry coupled with patina-oxidized roof spires; in 1977, 1980, and 1981, after the façade was cleaned, a much lighter stone was visible, but it was also during a time before today’s brown copper replaced the patina of the original.

Shooting conditions

This was another marker of Naylor’s techniques. His slides — namely, for his planned, non-incidental photo outings — were produced overwhelmingly on sunny days. The characteristics of Kodachrome’s colour reproduction, explained in Chapter 3, favours contrasty, vibrant scenes; low-contrast, low-hue scenes (i.e., an overcast day) tend to be muddier. On Naylor’s shots of Walnut Hall and Old City Hall, the lighting was always sunny to partly cloudy, shot between mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Several of his storefront studies along Yonge Street were shot in the morning hours — a fresh departure from the dominance of afternoon scenes found with other entries added to the Registry. Naylor was demonstratively aware of Kodachrome’s optimal shooting conditions, and he exploited those whenever the opportunity presented itself.

Self-aware anonymity

Naylor also avoided being seen in any of his slides — even in places where storefront window reflections could have revealed clues to what he looked like. This appeared to be a deliberate move on his part: at most, a couple of slides revealed some of his shadow on the sidewalk. If any slides existed with him in view, these were either kept separate or disposed of.

Quality over quantity

This raises the question of Naylor’s selection process and how it informed the collection’s primary sedimentation — that is, the archiving habits of the creator which may or may not reflect the whole of what was actually generated (Hill 1993, 9–10). Naylor may have culled “disposable” slides from “keepers”. The secondary sedimentation of Naylor’s collection — that is, how the collection was received by a conservator after the creator(s) was deceased (ibid., 14–5) — reveals very few “bad shots”. This is probably a function of Naylor’s primary sedimentation. If undesired shots existed — slides of friends, of family, or of himself; or of poorly exposed or composed slides — they were removed. The consistently high calibre of what is known to the collection supports his fastidious organizing and curating habits.

Harvey’s impact and significance

What makes this collection an exemplar for reading the city emerges as its thoroughness is considered. Naylor spent roughly thirty years recording the city — often returning to the very same spots over the span of several years to consciously document Toronto’s morphological change with structures, streets, and vistas. In some cases, the changes are gradual — renovations and restorations of older buildings — while in others those changes take on a more radical tone (the entirety of the Yonge-Queen-Bay-Dundas block, in which the Eaton’s flagship store and many independent businesses were razed to build the Eaton Centre.

Through the bulk of his documentation, dominantly between 1971 and 1984, Toronto’s transition from stony, sooty industrial city to glassier post-industrial economic centre legible today is impossible to overlook. The day-to-day of that period may have revealed incremental transitions, but in Kodachrome, those changes appear frenetic. This period chronicles a kind of adolescence for the city, replete with several growing pains. Naylor’s earlier shots reveal multiple façades from the 19th century — from the grand (Church of the Holy Trinity before the 1977 fire) to the forgotten (an improvised, roughcast house on St. Clair West, just west of Old Weston Road).

Other accessions

Despite the overshadowing presence of the Naylor collection, 29 other collections were registered for the Registry. Because some of the media was Kodachrome movie film, these are discussed separately from slide film.

Accession KT2011001 was the test bed for building the Registry database. This collection is my own Kodachrome work documenting Toronto from 2008 to 2010. What it lacks is all impact of freshness in the face of lost time as many other collections could do. Aside from meeting the qualification of it being Kodachrome media, much of it produced in Toronto, this collection was used to help iron out the Registry’s wrinkles. The database architecture was revised a few times as more collections were added.


Five accession records listed collections with cine Kodachrome reels — some in 8mm, others in 16mm. Although Kodak sold some varieties of cine Kodachrome with a magnetic audio track, all of these were silent. These reels contained footage between 1940 to 1978. The reels tended to fall into two categories: casual home movies and municipal documentation with only the most basic of post-production or editing.

The oldest reel

The 1940 footage, falling into the latter category, is also the oldest Kodachrome media of Toronto the Registry has (so far) been able to verify. This superlative, however, comes with a slightly disappointing qualifier. Accession KT2011011, a set of reels the TTC produced between the 1920s and 1950s, is a mix of black-and-white and colour films. Three of the twenty-plus reels were shot originally with Kodachrome.

In 1981, the TTC, lacking an archives repository, turned to the national library, Library and Archives Canada (LAC), for conservation. At the time, the TTC and the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto were separate entities. The latter, with an archives then located at New City Hall, lacked custodial responsibility for the former; this changed after amalgamation in 1998. When the TTC sent the original reels to Ottawa, the LAC made duplicates using early 1980s-era duping stock sent these duplicates to the TTC in kind, while retaining custodianship over the original reels.

What was reviewed for entry for these TTC reels was not the originals, but the 1981 duplicates. While the City of Toronto Archives (which previously had not realized these holdings were possibly the oldest known scenes of Toronto in colour) spoke favourably for a repatriation to return these original reels to Toronto, they added that it was not very likely that the LAC would agree to it. In 1988, construction on the Metro Toronto Archives (now the City Archives) began. Had the TTC waited a few more years, it would have been able to receive these originals.

Figure 4.2. Cinescope view of frame from TTC reel (accession KT2011011), Bloor & Yonge, winter 1940 [Idlewild].

Figure 4.2. Cinescope view of frame from TTC reel (accession KT2011011), Bloor & Yonge, winter 1940 [Idlewild].

The oldest of the three Kodachrome-sourced reels, all 16mm format, was filmed in winter 1940 [Figure 4.2]. Based on weather conditions and snow coverage, it was filmed probably in February, if not early March. The 175-foot reel, shot over several takes from various locations along Bloor Street West, documented streetcar traffic and transit riders. This was still several decades before these streetcars were supplanted by the Bloor-Danforth subway line. At the time, the new PCC streetcars were just beginning to replace the wood-panelled trolley streetcars in use since the TTC was formed in 1921. In this film, both types can be seen in use. The footage starts at Bloor and Yonge and ends near Bloor and Dundas West. Much of the film was shot at sunny midday, which is probably a function of Kodak’s box recommendations for shooting the still-expensive and very slow film (with an effective sensitivity of ISO 8) (Dmitri 1940, 18); by contrast, Kodak’s fastest (and last) version of Kodachrome, introduced in 1986 at ISO 200, was 25 times more sensitive to light.

The other two reels from the TTC collection date to 1954 when the TTC opened the Yonge subway line. The 330-foot reel, spliced from several parts of the opening ceremony on 30 March 1954, runs at around nine minutes. The third reel, also of the subway opening, contains only two minutes of Kodachrome footage before being spliced with black and white footage filmed around the same time. In addition to excerpts from the subway’s opening day, it also features a few seconds of University College and Hart House at the University of Toronto.

Other reels: 8mm

Of the reels inspected, fewer were shot in 8mm home movie format. Accession KT2011010, shot by the city’s Parks and Property Department, was an 8mm reel of a picnic at the Toronto Islands in 1957. The canister inscription, “MR. WEBBER — IMPERIAL OIL” might indicate this was related to a company picnic. Accession KT2011016, the Francis “Norrie” Ward collection (Fonds 6 in the City Archives), included two Super-8mm reels from the mid-1970s — with footage from the CNE, University Avenue park, a partially cladded First Canadian Place, Ontario Place (and retired ferry the Ned Hanlan), Metro Zoo, City Hall, and scenes of two older married couples lounging in the back yard of a house. Based on the modest postwar housing architecture, it was possibly in either East York or Leaside.

Other reels: 16mm

Accession KT2011014, part of the city’s own holdings, includes one reel about three minutes long, with spliced construction scenes of the Yonge subway cut-and-cover in 1951. Accession KT2011015, also a city holding, is unusual for being a single reel spliced with three types of colour stock: Kodachrome, Dupont color, and Anscocolor. The latter two emulsions have deteriorated, both with substantial loss to cyan and yellow, resulting in faded, magenta-shifted images.

While the Archives denoted the KT2011015 reel as originating from 1944, this Kodachrome stock could not have originated from then. For all cine film products, Kodak assigns symbol-based data codes for its emulsions. The date code “◼▲” found on the Kodachrome footage corresponds to 1947 on Eastman Kodak’s cine dating charts[1], [2]. The bulk of this Kodachrome footage is from the Santa Claus Parade, probably also in 1947, if not 1948.

The last 16mm reel, part of the Francis “Norrie” Ward entry, KT2011016, is a professionally splice-edited production of footage shot over Ward’s lifetime. The 1,300-foot reel was the largest reviewed so far for the Registry. Date codes on the 24 spliced segments verify that the emulsions originated (and were probably exposed) between 1961 and 1978. Ward expressed an affinity for cultivated flowers, with extensive garden footage shot in High Park and at the CNE grounds. The final segment is from Christmas 1978, shot indoors around the Christmas tree and the family dog.


Twenty-five of the Registry entries are slide-based Kodachrome sources. Like the cine film, much of it originates from institutional archives. A couple of others originate from private collections. Highlights from personal collections are discussed, followed by a general overview of other collections.

F. Ellis Wiley

The work of F. Ellis Wiley, accession KT2011004, mentioned earlier in this chapter with respect to Harvey Naylor’s collection, is known to Torontologists[fn1] as a rich trove for Toronto colour scenes during the 20th century. Wiley’s work, transferred by his widow to the City of Toronto in 2002 after his passing, is now conserved, catalogued, and digitized for public previewing via the City Archives online portal.

Figure 4.3. Accession KT2011004: Kid, Man, and Monkey. Yonge and Dundas, ca. mid 1970s [F. Ellis Wiley / City of Toronto, f0124_fl0008_id0206].

Figure 4.3. Accession KT2011004: Kid, Man, and Monkey. Yonge and Dundas, ca. mid 1970s [F. Ellis Wiley / City of Toronto, f0124_fl0008_id0206].

While the calibre of his work is now lauded by Torontologists, before the Kodachrome Toronto project brought light to it, few if any discussed how or why Wiley’s slides were in such exceptional condition or why the views look as alive in 2012 as they did when they were shot. While a philosophical side discussion on how digital imaging has produced a generation of photographers and researchers who are unaware of why Kodachrome matters, here is not place for it (tempting as it may be).

Wiley’s collection features 1,504 slides. While significant, it is still 18 per cent the size of the Naylor collection. Much like Naylor, Wiley, an accountant, spent his free time chronicling buildings, city scenes, and events — most notably the celebrations at the close of World War II along Queen Street in August and September 1945. This makes Wiley’s work the oldest slides listed in the Registry. While Naylor did similarly at times, Wiley’s documentation of buildings seemed to be a remedial chronicling exercise: many have the foreboding neon orange sign, “TEPERMAN WRECKING”, adhered to the facade — a kind of architectural toe tag.

As with Naylor, Wiley used Kodachrome almost exclusively. Before his passing, Wiley created a simple index card finding aid to describe his slides by theme, which are divided into fourteen, broadly-themed sets. These sets were a product of Wiley’s primary sedimentation, not secondary sedimentation by the conservators at the City Archives. The hand-written index cards denote his earliest slides began during the summer of 1945 (Queens Park at midday, looking north from College Street). His final work was completed in the early 1990s around both Yonge-Dundas [Figure 4.3] and Nathan Phillips Square.

Jack Young

Another photographer who engaged the city much like Wiley is John “Jack” Young, accession KT2011003. Deceased in 2010, his daughter assumed custodianship of the private collection and was, at time of Registry interview in November 2011, having Young’s slides professionally digitized. She estimates that Young, who worked as a civil engineer, probably shot about 2,500 slides — several of these outside of Toronto (e.g., on family vacations).

For his photographic work on Toronto, Young documented the city in its postwar growth heyday, including open-faced views of New City Hall’s “Clamshell” council chambers whilst under construction. In addition to a few street scenes, Young also captured incidental subjects now lost to time: vividly painted murals in the downtown core; views of the original, now-demolished modernist structure of the Bata Shoe Museum; and at the Maple Leafs Stanley Cup Parade in 1967. Young also documented what may be the only known colour slides of the Palace Pier fire in 1963. Young’s collection was also the only entry in the Registry with slides also shot in the slightly larger 828 roll film format sold by Kodachrome from the 1930s to its discontinuation in the 1970s.

Figure 4.4. Accession KT2011008: house interior, pre-demolition, ca. 1971. [Robert & Harold Stacey / City of Toronto, s8_ss4_fl3_id15]

Figure 4.4. Accession KT2011008: house interior, pre-demolition, ca. 1971. [Robert & Harold Stacey / City of Toronto, s8_ss4_fl3_id15]

Robert and Harold Stacey

The Stacey collection, accession KT2011008, is another collection which was conserved, catalogued, and digitized by the City Archives. While the collection is smaller (167 slides), much of this was confined to an area around the UofT campus, the Annex, and Yorkville. The Staceys carefully chronicled several historic houses slated for demolition during the late 1960s and early 1970s, including some of their disused interiors [Figure 4.4]. These houses were replaced by many of the modernist and brutalist mid-rises and towers now prevalent around the Yorkville-Avenue area. Their work was emblematic of an urgency to generate architectural preservations of memory, caring to assure that these original, stately houses would not be completely forgotten to time. The results are both heartbreaking and intimately beautiful.

On a technical note, the Stacey collection included the Registry’s only slides whose film was not from Kodak — more precisely, the K-12 process slides were sold by 3M as Dynachrome. While Kodak’s K-12 chemistry was in use (1961–1978), Kodachrome-type films were being offered by other companies to compete directly with Kodachrome (Frost and Oppenheim 1960, 139). As they use identical chemistry and were manufactured with the layered emulsion order proprietary to Kodachrome, they qualify for entry in the Registry. While sharing virtually all of Kodachrome’s unique imaging characteristics (i.e, a three-layer, black-and-white emulsion before processing), Dynachrome slides tend to show a slightly more “velvety” appearance: they were as sharp and enduring as Kodachrome, but their palette was aesthetically more subdued and handled diffuse illumination with a bit less extreme contrast.

Other collections

The 350 slides of the Pleasance Crawford collection, accession KT2011012, came from her work in landscape architecture during the late 1970s. She also shot a series of about 50 slides for the 1979 Caribana parade. The Charles Sauriol collection, accession KT2011013, reflected his passion for and commitment to land conservation around the GTA’s green fields (some within today’s provincially mandated Greenbelt around the GTA) — documenting views of Glen Major, Black Creek, Duffins Creek in Ajax, and the Claremont conservation area. John J. Oskay’s “visit to Toronto”, accession KT2011018, is a small set of eleven slides, yet they are noteworthy for the being exposed on the same date — 8 September 1948 — and for revealing some of the only known Kodachrome views of industrial activity around what is today the George Brown College campus next to Casa Loma. Given a paucity of Kodachrome slides along Dupont and Davenport, these glimpses of the escarpment are invaluable.

Several collections were produced by municipal departments across pre-amalgamated boroughs of what is today the City of Toronto. Those records and holdings of the different boroughs are being conserved and archived at different paces. Several of Metropolitan Toronto and Etobicoke’s Kodachrome-based holdings are largely processed; of these, many are available online, while others with rights management restrictions are not. Other boroughs, North York in particular, relied heavily on black-and-white photography for municipal affairs, perhaps more so than either Toronto or Etobicoke. Some of Etobicoke’s departments, meanwhile, used Kodachrome extensively — particularly so during the 1950s and 1960s. The municipal holdings of York, East York, and Scarborough have either not yielded Kodachrome sets or have not yet been processed.

Figure 4.5. Accession KT2011006: new suburban housing, Etobicoke, October 1966. [Township of Etobicoke / City of Toronto, s1464_fl002_id0007]

Figure 4.5. Accession KT2011006: new suburban housing, Etobicoke, October 1966. [Township of Etobicoke / City of Toronto, s1464_fl002_id0007]

Pre-amalgamated Toronto used Kodachrome for various applications, including public works, urban design, and special events. On the last, accession KT2011028 is a short set of nine slides shot at the time of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, in late spring 1953. These were mostly shot around Queen and Bay Streets, at the Simpson’s flagship store and (Old) City Hall.

A different set, accession KT2011029, includes scenes from a Santa Claus Day parade. While cited as 1955, the floats and weather conditions appear virtually identical to the cine film reel in accession KT2011015 shot in 1947. For now, this set’s age cannot be verified. For accession KT2011006, the City of Etobicoke documented built form and space planning using Kodachrome from the mid 1950s to the mid 1970s [Figure 4.5], while the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto continued working with Kodachrome until amalgamation. In a self-referential twist, accession KT2011017, a short collection of six slides, recorded the state of brownfield remediation for a site which would later house those slides: the City of Toronto Archives. Viewing those shots — all made on the clear afternoon of 15 September 1988 — effected a perceptual surreality once I departed the Archives on that afternoon (10 December 2011): the immediacy of those slides seemed to fold time on itself such that I half-expected to walk out to see this brownfield remediation site.

Figure 4.6. Accession KT2011007: Yonge Street Mall, ca. 1972. [City of Toronto / s1465_fl0312_it0003]

Figure 4.6. Accession KT2011007: Yonge Street Mall, ca. 1972. [City of Toronto / s1465_fl0312_it0003]

Several Registry entries originated from the city’s urban planning and development team. These were often urban design survey scenes for planned design interventions or for field reconnaissance. The largest of this group, accession KT2011007, comprises part of a broader collection of 23,782 photos which include Kodachrome and other films [Figure 4.6]. Selected Kodachrome slides from this collection have over the last two years been digitized and added for public viewing online.

Figure 4.7. Accession KT2011009: View-Master®, 1976. [GAF Corporation]

Figure 4.7. Accession KT2011009: View-Master®, 1976. [GAF Corporation]

Perhaps the most peculiar entry in the Registry were the GAF Corporation’s View-Master 3-D discs, accession KT2011009, produced between the mid-1940s and the mid 1970s — all of these in Kodachrome. The collection viewed directly for this entry was the last-edition, 1970s-era, 3-pack discs (product series #A035-C) [Figure 4.7]. In all, this record aggregates all eighteen View-Master products featuring Toronto, the CNE, Ontario Place, the Metro Toronto Zoo, and stock views of the city — up until just after the skyline’s transformation in 1976 into what is familiar today as the contemporary Toronto skyline.


In all, thirty unique entries were added to the Registry between 2 November 2011 and 20 January 2012.

The Registry’s initial survey of thirty records located Kodachrome media successfully in several still and movie formats. Absent to present, however, are examples of Toronto in either medium-format or large-format Kodachrome. In its first iteration, Kodak sold Kodachrome not only as a roll film, but also in large format for professional uses. Its prohibitive price necessarily restricted its use (a box of six, 4×5-inch sheets with pre-paid processing cost $6.25, per a 1941 Fotoshop catalogue price list — or about $91 in 2010 U.S. dollars). The FSA-OWI collection from the United States extensively used 4×5-inch sheets of Kodachrome during the early 1940s, and these images are doubly memorable for their historical value and for their unique clarity of a period which few alive today have ever seen in colour. For Toronto, however, no such examples were brought forward. There are likely some to exist, but this will require more field work to track them down. Medium-format Kodachrome film, sold as 120-size rolls during the late 1980s and early 1990s, may be easier to track down owing to its ready availability in recent years than large format once was. But for this survey, no examples were found.

As expected, most of the slide film was shot in 35mm. Only two exceptions were noted: a few instances of 828 slides in Jack Young’s collection [accession KT2011003] and 126 Instamatic from my own collection [accession KT2011001]. Movies in 16mm outnumbered movies shot in 8mm formats. The extremely limited professional applications of cine Kodachrome in 35mm motion picture film, whose processing was handled largely by Technicolor in California during the 1940s, make it unlikely that many, if any 35mm cine examples featuring Toronto ever existed.

[fn1] Torontology is a neologism being used colloquially by Toronto civic participants, often on Twitter discussions and verbally. It is, literally, a scholarly inquiry on and study of the city of Toronto and GTA surroundings. “Torontology” is inspired by the neologism Egyptology. At this time, Torontology is not a formal discipline.

Contents ©2012 Astrid Idlewild. Do not excerpt without written permission. A printed version of this SRP is filed with the Blackader-Lauterman Library of Architecture and Art at McGill University. The online version of this manuscript was edited and serialized in 2013.

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