Title and statement of responsibility area
Duncan Macphail fonds
General material designation
- graphic material
- textual material
- multiple media
Other title information
Title statements of responsibility
- Source of title proper: Title based on contents of the fonds.
- Variations in title: Previously known as the "Duncan C. Macphail collection."
Level of description
Edition statement of responsibility
Class of material specific details area
Statement of scale (cartographic)
Statement of projection (cartographic)
Statement of coordinates (cartographic)
Statement of scale (architectural)
Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)
Dates of creation area
- Macphail, Duncan
Physical description area
ca. 8000 photographs and 5 cm of textual records
Publisher's series area
Title proper of publisher's series
Parallel titles of publisher's series
Other title information of publisher's series
Statement of responsibility relating to publisher's series
Numbering within publisher's series
Note on publisher's series
Archival description area
Name of creator
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.
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.
Immediate source of acquisition
Language of material
Script of material
Location of originals
Availability of other formats
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.
- 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.
No further accruals are expected.
Archives code(s): 89-0937, 2011.175.1, 198110-006.
Accession number(s): 89-0937; 2011.175.1; 198110-006
Graphic material may be in cool or cold storage. Contact staff for specific details.