Fo­cus on past

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page -

Sub­mit­ted by Michelle Lan­dri­ault The Dalkeith His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety hosted guest speaker Dane Lanken on Satur­day evening, Septem­ber 16 at the Robert­son Clark build­ing.

So­ci­ety spokesper­son Fran­cis Fraser wel­comed Mr. Lanken, a writer and Glen­garry his­to­rian who in­tro­duced the 30 guests to the works of pho­tog­ra­pher Dun­can Dono­van (1853-1933).

At first a trav­el­ling pho­tog­ra­pher, once he was based in Alexan­dria from about 1896 to post-WWI, Mr. Dono­van fo­cused his lens on Glen­garry with ex­cur­sions into parts of Prescott County, and the Vau­dreuilSoulanges re­gion. The fact that so much of his work is cen­tred in one lo­ca­tion, means it pro­vides a val­ued his­tor­i­cal record.

Mr. Lanken brought a tan­ta­liz­ing se­lec­tion of Dono­van's im­ages - peo­ple, most of whom are not iden­ti­fied; events, plus rec­og­niz­able build­ings lo­cated in Alexan­dria and nearby. One photo was taken at a grave­side in­ter­ment. As Mr. Lanken ex­plained, early pho­to­graphs were trea­sured items and of­ten lim­ited to life events. Un­like to­day when cell phones are over­crowded by vol­umes of snap­shots that of­ten be­come worth­less.

Those in at­ten­dance greatly ap­pre­ci­ated the im­ages, and learn­ing more about the pho­tog­ra­pher. In­com­plete sur­viv­ing col­lec­tions of im­ages & glass plate neg­a­tives by Mr. Dono­van are held in the Glen­garry County Ar­chives, in Alexan­dria, and in the On­tario Ar­chives at York Univer­sity.

Few stu­dio records of Dono­van's works sur­vive. Mr. Lanken made the point that if the pho­to­graphs of peo­ple had been iden­ti­fied by their own­ers on the back of the pho­tos, they would be of much more his­tor­i­cal value to fam­i­lies, and to en­rich­ing lo­cal his­tory. He en­cour­aged ev­ery­one to take the time to iden­tify the peo­ple in their fam­ily pho­tos. Liv­ing mem­ory is a frag­ile thing.

The suc­cess­ful sum­mer evening event con­cluded with grat­i­tude for the de­li­cious potluck sup­per do­na­tions, and the melodic mu­sic of Brian Caddell.


VIVID REC­OL­LEC­TIONS: His­to­rian Dane Lanken pro­vided a snap­shot of the life of pho­tog­ra­pher Dun­can Dono­van.

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