A Canadian Farmer and His Wife | Case #007

Case #007: A Farmer and His Wife

The Camera

The No. 2A Folding Autographic Brownie was first introduced November 1915 and was discontinued in 1926. They made a few alterations in that time, and I was able to pinpoint this Kodak Brownie, to about 1920.
I found this old medium format camera at a flea market. When I asked the owner if there was film in it, he opened the back before I could protest. I thought for sure whatever was on there was lost but he assured me it was would up on the one end for the most part. Skeptical, but wanting a camera like this for awhile anyway, I purchased it.
Even though the red plastic view hole on the back was broken, further exposing the film, I was nervous about developing it myself. So I took it to an expert who said he didn’t have spools for this size film.
[rant] There aren’t a lot of professional darkrooms left, and you’d think the remaining ones would carry some oddball sizes just in case, then charge a premium! [/rant]
So with a little brains, and even less tape, I took a Paterson spool and made it slightly wider.

The Film
It takes 116 medium format film, which is pretty massive and the camera itself shoots large, wide negatives. Below I made a comparison to 35mm film.


This roll in particular is Kodak Verichrome Pan, and the manufacture code indicates it was produced in Canada in either 1932 or 1943. Because Kodak reused their codes every 11 years until 1950, I can’t be sure. Neither answer would surprise me based on the image.

The Image

I’m very happy to have even just one photo from this whole extravaganza!
We have a farmer and his wife on the back up a trailer. He’s holding a shovel, so they may be unloading something. The photographer is on something, enough to raise them slightly. Could be a hill, a fence… an automobile! There’s been enough light exposed, trickling in over time to fade out any detail of the faces. The image looks somewhat posed, so they probably know one another.

What follows on the roll of film is what appears to be overexposed frames. The shutter did stick intermittently when I bought it, that seems a good bet. The camera was produced in 1920, and the film manufactures code indicates Canada 1932/1943. Though the image itself screams early 20th century, I don’t see any clues to narrow that time gap.

Thanks to Greg for the comment: “Looks to be a screw type grain auger in the grain storage bin behind the trailer. Screw type grain augers were not available till 1953 so I would think the picture would be late 50s to early 60s, also fits with the type of trailer and wheels on it.”

None the less it’s an amazing example of how resilient film it. Even though the back was opened, the rolled up negatives protected the very first frame, and in this case, seemed to be the only proper exposure before camera failure anyhow….crazy.

5 thoughts on “A Canadian Farmer and His Wife | Case #007”

  1. whoah this blog is magnificent i love reading your posts. Keep up the great work! You know, a lot of people are looking around for this information, you could help them greatly.

  2. This would be in one of the prairie provinces – Manitoba, Saskatchewan or Alberta, although my leanings would be to Saskatchewan. The Wheels on the grain wagon are definitely 1940’s or early 50’s. The grain bins are also consistent with this time period. Fascinating!

  3. Looks to be a screw type grain auger in the grain storage bin behind the trailer. Screw type grain augers were not available till 1953 so I would think the picture would be late 50s to early 60s, also fits with the type of trailer and wheels on it.

  4. Interested in knowing where and when you found the film. The picture reminds me of several graineries that sat side by side (with a third shed sitting slightly behind the other two) on the farm of my aunt and uncle found three miles west and two south of Grenfell, Saskatchewan. The graineries in question sat on the south west side of their farm yard. The wagon is also very similar to the one they used to haul grain from the combine to the graineries. My aunt wore glasses as does the woman in the photo. She was a slight but robust woman who gave my uncle a lot of help, driving a tractor during seeding and harvest, shovelling grain etc. My uncle was about six feet tall with a ,medium build, as were many of that generation of farmers. If this picture is indeed of them, it would likely have been taken in the late 50’s or very early 60’s. My aunt istill lives in a nursing home in Grenfell. I’ll try to make arrangements for her to see this old photograph.

    1. Hi Robert,
      You definitely tickled my interests with your description. This was found in Calgary, Alberta at a flea market. The guys I bought it from have a other cameras on their table, many of them have more dust on them than I normally see. That gives me the impression they go to a lot of abandoned storage and estate sales. I came across the camera about a year ago. The back had been opened and I was lucky to get this shot, which was at the centre of the roll and protected by the remaining rolled film. A recent comment said that the tires are likely 50’s, so the story adds up so far!

      If you have another image from her of the same time period, I can also rescan this negative to try and crop and squeeze a bit more detail out, it’s very faded though, fogged from years of sitting in a broken camera….fingers crossed.

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