Canafornian

Canafornian

Posted on 01/10/2015


Photo taken on January  8, 2015


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postcard
winnipeg
manitoba
portage avenue
barrowclough
free press


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WP1871 WPG - FREE PRESS BUILDING - NIGHT SCENE

WP1871 WPG - FREE PRESS  BUILDING - NIGHT SCENE
Posted on April 23, 1911 from Montreal to France, this is a picture of the Free Press building - built in 1904 at the SE corner of Portage Avenue and Garry Street. The mailing date was much later than the date the picture was taken. On September 21, 1908, the Winnipeg Post Office opened for business to the immediate left (East) of this building - making it that much older. However, I am finding several references to the Post Office being constructed in 1904 - which would make the image appear to also be from 1904.

Of course the image is also interesting because of its feigned night time appearance. As with other real photo images of the time, a daytime image could be underexposed to make it darker and window lighting and other lighting effects could be added to enhance a "night time" appearance.

I have assumed that this was taken by G. A. Barrowclough. His name does not appear on the image (unless it is under the stamp), but the title script is very similar to that of other Barrowclough postcards and it is printed on the "classic" Velox paper stock that he favoured.

Alan Mays has particularly liked this photo


7 comments - The latest ones
wintorbos
wintorbos
From what I recall, the post office took a long time to build. I would think that this is a 1904/05 Barrowclough, even if the writing seems just a tiny bit off of the way he usually wrote (not much though).

As for the time of day, it's very strange. Whatever the explanation, it seems to be another example of GAB experimenting with the possibilities of RPPCs. My question is, if it's underexposed, then how could we possibly be seeing right inside through then main floor windows, with the "Free Press" lettering appearing very clearly and distinctly on the windows? It looks as though we're seeing objects inside some of the rooms in lighting that looks natural enough. If it were underexposed, wouldn't those big main floor windows look black? Also, while the bright lights on the upper floors look improbable, there doesn't really seem to be any of the "colouring outside the lines" you'd expect to see if the bright spots had been added by hand, e.g. the cross-pieces on the window casements are mostly visible, as though the light is really coming from the rooms behind them. The lights along the cornice and of course the massive burst of light at the top might be exceptions to this -- they seem a lot harder to believe. But I'm wondering if this was some sort of experiment that GAB arranged with buddies at the FP, rather than a fake "night" scene (or maybe a bit of both). Or am I just being naive???

Also, can you read the signs that are on either side of the front door. The top line would likely be "Free Press" but I'm wondering if the other words might be a clue.
3 years ago.
Canafornian
Canafornian
It is definitely a puzzling image from several angles. It could have been a twilight shot, but the cornice lights are definitely additions and the light bursts are very suspect. The front door signs read "Free Press Bulletin". I'm also thinking that it is actually a huge crowd of folks on the front & side of the building that is obscuring the lower level windows and, if so, what would draw such a large night-time crowd?
3 years ago.
wintorbos
wintorbos
The Free Press completed its move into the new Portage & Garry building between May 27-29, 1905. So it's possible there could have been a celebration of some sort, although the paper doesn't mention one on either of those two dates (there is a long account of the logistics of moving "the largest paper in Canada" in the Monday, May 29 edition).

I've never seen the awnings deployed on this building before either. Maybe it was all in its testing phase at this point!
3 years ago.
Canafornian
Canafornian
Thanks for your input on this one. I've also sent the image to Winnipeg's premier "expert" on its historical buildings, to see if he can add perspective.
3 years ago.
wintorbos
wintorbos
Actually, the awnings are also opened on those "Free Press Souvenir Postcards" that show various parts of their operations on the reverse side.

I await the official word on this fantastic (and highly envied) card!
3 years ago.
Canafornian
Canafornian
Ha! I don't know that the "final word" will ever end the story on this one.
3 years ago.
Canafornian
Canafornian
I conferred with Randy Rostecki, the foremost authority on Winnipeg's historic buildings. Randy says he is pretty certain that this was taken at dusk on the day of the building's official opening - July 19, 1905 - explaining why it is lit up so brightly.The neighbouring buildings and sites are consistent with this date. (Assuming that July sunset times are still roughly in sync with 2014 - it would be about 9:30 PM, and this shot likely have been taken somewhere between 9:00 PM and 10:00 PM.)
3 years ago. Edited 3 years ago.