Our visual heritage in news shots, snaps, and fine works

The CLGA's holdings of photographs began  as did the archives itself  with material from The Body Politic.

In its eventual role as the unofficial newspaper of record for the Canadian gay movement, TBP had photo files swelling with shots of demonstrations, conferences, and social events. Prints of many photos appearing in the paper made their way to the CLGA  often along with negatives and contact sheets holding thousands of images never seen in print.

Later acquisitions from other sources broadened the scope. The second issue of the Archives' newsletter, in May 1978, noted a major donation of studies taken in 1984 of drag performers at Toronto's Club Manatee. In 1983, Lynnie Johnston donated more than 40 of her works, mounted for a display on police harassment  including the infamous bath raids of February, 1981, and the massive demonstrations that followed.

The records of many other individuals and organizations also included photographic material. By 1991 there were more than 7,000 individual items: prints, negatives, slides, postcards, and halftone reproductions. But only a few had been catalogued.

That year the CLGA sought and received a grant to finance work on its photographic material. Christopher Halonen, a graduate student at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Library and Information Sciences, produced An Inventory of Photographs Received in the Canadian Gay Archives Between 1973 and the End of 1987 (see below). It listed and indexed more than 4,500 images  some dating back to the 1920s.

If you have photos that can help preserve a wide and diverse visual heritage for the future, take a look at our page on donating material to the CLGA.


Photographs: Guides

  • An Inventory of Photographs Received in the Canadian Gay Archives
    Between 1973 and the End of 1987

    Christopher Halonen, 1992

    This volume lists 611 main entries, describing approximately 4,500 items. Dates of creation range from 1927 to 1987, with the bulk dating from 1974 to 1985. Places of origin range from San Francisco to Helsinki -- but most material comes from Canadian sources, with Toronto, and Ontario, predominating.

    Over half the materials (461 of the 611 entries) consist of photo files from The Body Politic. The rest consists primarily of items donated by individuals and other organizations, and promotional materials from publishers, and film and threatre companies.

    Subjects depicted include: lesbian and gay activists, artists, authors, and celebrities; other members of lesbian and gay communities in Toronto, Halifax, Montreal, Saskatoon, and Vancouver during the 1970s and early 1980s; cultural and political events; demonstrations and conferences; theatrical productions; and places of community interest, including bars, restaurants, and clubs.

    A significant effort has been made to identify all of the individuals, places, and events depicted. The inventory has six indexes:

    • Main entry: Usually the name of the person or organization responsible for the creation of a photo;
    • Title: A name devised to provide direct access to specific images;
    • Subject: Personal names -- more than 750 individuals;
    • Subject: Corporate names -- more than 300 businesses, groups, etc;
    • Subject: Topical headings; and
    • Accession number.

    The inventory was financed by a $10,395 grant from the Canadian Council of Archives. Matching funds were provided by the Canadian Gay Archives itself, assisted by a $1,250 grant from the Lesbian and Gay Community Appeal of Toronto.

National Portrait Collection