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Joseph Frederick Spalding - Photographer - Tourist - Visionary


Joseph Frederick Spalding was a prolific commercial photographer active in BC from 1904 to 1958. From 1904 to 1924, Spalding worked from a studio in Fernie, BC. During this time he photo-documented not only the activities in the town, but as a writer and tourism commissioner, most of southern BC and the mountain parks of the Rockies.

Over 800 of Spalding's photographs in the collection of the Fernie and District Historical Society are the basis of this project. The research team was interested in Spalding's photography as it relates to:

  • His work with the Fernie Free Press and the District Ledger from 1904 to 1910
  • His Automobile Road Guides during the period 1912 to 1918
  • His work as Tourism Commissioner for the Tourist Association of southern BC and southern Alberta from 1919 to 1924
  • His recording of the commercial, industrial and social events of Fernie.
Results from this project were displayed in the exhibition Capturing History: The Photography of Joseph Frederick Spalding, held by the Fernie and District Historical Society from August 26 to September 21, 2002. The exhibition was shown at the Wasa Hotel in Fort Steele, BC, until 2005.

Michael Pennock contributed a chapter on Spalding to A World Apart: The Crowsnest Communities of Alberta and British Columbia (Kamloops: Plateau Press, 2002). Under the direction of Dr. Lorne Hammond, UVic students Leslie Hall (History) and Gillian Murray (Visual Arts) researched the Spalding photograph archives and related material in the BC Provincial Archives. During the summer of 2003, UVic History student Karen Waugh completed the inventory of Spalding works in the collections of the Vancouver Public Library and the BC Archives. The students wrote extensive reports documenting their research findings.

Michael Pennock and several students at UVic (Karen Waugh, Tusa Shea, Jan Gates, and web designer Jeff Werner) worked together to incorporate the project research and numerous images from the Fernie collection into a web exhibit entitled Capturing History. Frederick Joseph Spalding: Photographer Tourist Visionary. The web exhibit can be seen on the Maltwood Art Museum and Gallery website at

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