While names like Killam and Schibli appear frequently in the Bulkley Valley Museum's photo collection, other local photographers are represented far less, or not at all, by our holdings. The following individuals all operated professional photography studios in Smithers between the 1920s and 1980s, and have fewer than 10 of their photographs in our collection.
J. Elhorn Mogensen
J. E. Mogensen was a painter and photographer from Hazelton who opened a photography business in Smithers on April 1st 1921. Based on advertisements in the Interior News, his studio offered film development, printing, copying, and enlarging, presumably in addition to photography itself. It is possible that he was the first person to run a professional photography studio in Smithers, as Killam and Coffee operated on an amateur level and Covert and Wrathall were based elsewhere. Mogensen may have hoped to fill the void left by these four men's departures over the previous decade.
However, it seems that his Smithers venture was short-lived, as all mentions of his Main Street business in the News stop after June 1st. A string of advertisements for his painting, decorating, and photo finishing services appear in late 1921 and early 1922, but all of them locate him in Hazelton. After that, like so many of the Valley's other early photographers, Mogensen simply disappears. Unfortunately, none of his photographs appear in the Museum's collection.
Arthur L. Evitt
After Mogensen's departure, Smithers seems to have gone without a professional photographer until 1927, when A.L. Evitt opened a photography studio in his electrical supply and hardware store on Main Street. This joint business moved into the former Municipal Hall building the following year. Like Mogensen, Evitt developed, printed, and enlarged films as well as taking photographs himself. In 1931, he promoted the Big Kodak International $100,000 Competition for Amateur Picture-Takers - though it doesn't appear that anyone from Smithers won!
Evitt, who was born about 1888, lived in the Glentanna area as early as 1919 or 1920. He and his wife, Barbara, had three children: Leonard, Olive, and Frederick, who was wounded in action during World War II. In addition to his photography business and electrical supply store, Arthur Evitt grew fruits and vegetables in 'glasshouses' on his property. He is remembered for selling radios during the 1930s, enabling Smithers' residents to hear the news of the world in their living rooms. Evitt's Hardware & Electric Store was sold to Al Wall in 1944, becoming the long-running business Wall's Electric. The Evitt family left Smithers around the same time.
Only one photo in the Bulkley Valley Museum's collection is known to have been taken by Evitt; it shows Alaska Highway promoter Clyde "Slim" Williams and his sled dog team in Smithers while on a trip from Alaska to Chicago in 1933.
Smithers seems to have been short on photography studios throughout the 1940s, possibly due to the fact that many men and women had joined the war effort. The 1950s and 60s, however, saw an explosion of popularity for this industry in town, with the rise of the Schibli, Richerson, and Forsyth (see below) studios. Another studio which emerged around this time was that of Vincenzo Ferrucci, opened on December 21st 1963.
Born in Italy, Ferrucci moved to Canada in 1923, living first in Edmonton, Alberta and then Prince George. He first entered the photography business in the early 1940s. His Smithers studio was located in a building at the corner of Second Avenue and Main Street, which had formerly served as the village hall and, before that, the Union Bank. Ferrucci intended to specialize in portraits of children, family groups, and weddings.
However, like Mogensen 40 years before him, Ferrucci appears to have found little success. After a few Interior News advertisements in early 1964, mentions of his studio quickly disappear. Only one of his photos - a shot of the Fall Fair executive committee - appears in the paper, and none are found in our collection. Perhaps there was simply too much competition for yet another studio to flourish in such a small town.
David Forsyth and family
David Mackenzie Forsyth, originally from Dingwall, Scotland, moved to Smithers in November 1955, with his wife Jay, daughters Irene and Pauline, and mother following the next summer. During their first decade in Canada, the family welcomed three sons - Gordon, Raymond, and David Jr. - while David Sr. worked for Northern Mill Supplies and managed several gas stations, including the Glacier Esso at Highway 16 and Columbia Street.
The mid-1960s, however, saw Forsyth's career turn towards commercial photography. He took wedding, family, and passport photographs, both in-studio and on location, served as the Sales Manager of the short-lived Pictorial newspaper, and contributed pictures to the Interior News. David Sr. and Jay opened a commercial studio and store, The Photo Shoppe, from 1975 until 1979, when it was sold to photographer Mark Hanley. Sons Gordon and David also took up photography in their teens, with their photos beginning to appear in the News around the early 1970s. Gordon's Northwest Photo Studio was advertised in 1984, although no further record of it can be found in the paper.
Twelve photographs of David Forsyth's can be found in the Bulkley Valley Museum's collections, most of them showing a book presentation to the Senior Citizens' Association in 1963.