Humphrey Lloyd Hime was born on September 17, 1833 in County Armagh, Ireland. By age15, young Mr. Hime had moved to England, where he studied business for five years before settling in Canada. It is unknown when his interest in photography began, but it likely commenced while he worked as a survey laborer in the Lake Simcoe and Georgian Bay regions of western Canada. From the fall of 1855 until early 1856, Mr. Hime served as a member of engineer W. H. Napier’s crew that surveyed the Native American reservation situated on Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula.
Through his association with W. H. Napier, Mr. Hime met photographers William Armstrong and Daniel Manders Beere, and soon secured a position with their photographic and engineering cooperative, located at 35 King Street East in Toronto. His growing influence with the company is reflected in its name change to Armstrong, Beere, and Hime. Under Mr. Hime’s artistic direction, the firm claimed first and second prizes for their color photographs at Brantford’s Provincial Agricultural Association exhibition in 1857. His industry success led to being named official photographer for the 1858 Assiniboine and Saskatchewan Exploring Expedition by its organizer, Professor Henry Youle Hind of Trinity College. The 14-man expedition continued surveying western Canada, concentrating on the topography and climate of the Red River settlement. This assignment provided Mr. Hime with the opportunity to experiment with wet collodion equipment and develop techniques on the fly to address pervasive climate and lighting issues.
Equipped with a camera, portrait and landscape lenses, hundreds of glass plates, a darkroom tent and a dog-eared copy of Thomas Frederick Hardwich’s Manual of Photographic Chemistry for reference, Mr. Hime arrived at the Red River territory in May 1858, where he first photographed a surveying camp and some members of the Ojibway tribe. The summer rainy season temporarily stalled his photographic efforts, but throughout the summer and fall, Mr. Hime photographed townspeople, local landmarks, businesses and places of worship. Though his work has been criticized by contemporary historians for improper focusing and some technical imprecision, Mr. Hime should be credited for applying the cumbersome wet plate process to documentary photography.
After a billing dispute with Mr. Beere, Mr. Hime left his partnership with Armstrong and Beere in 1864 to focus on financial pursuits. Within a few years, he established a successful mining operation on Lake Superior’s north shore. He also dabbled in politics, serving on various committees before his appointment as Justice of the Peace in 1874. In later years, he served as president of the Canadian Stock Exchange and continued his active professional life until he died at age 70 on October 31, 1903. He left behind a wife, eight children, several business interests, and 50 wet collodion photographs from 1858 that introduced the world to the remote interior of western Canada. More than 30 of his original photographs currently reside in Ottawa’s Public Library and Archives.
2020 The Canadian West (URL: https://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/canadian-west/052910).
2003 Divided Loyalties by Michael Sasges (URL: https://www.canadashistory.ca/explore/first-nations-inuit-metis/divided-loyalties).
2010 Exploration Photographer: Humphrey Lloyd Hime and the Assiniboine and Saskatchewan Exploring Expedition of 1858 by Richard Huyda (URL: http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/transactions/3/hime_hl.shtml).
2020 Humphrey Lloyd Hime, Birch Bark Tents, West Bank of Red River, Middle Settlement, 1858 (URL: https://www.sfmoma.org/artwork/ST1998.0228).
2010 Living with Strangers by David G. McCrady (Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press), pp. 13-14.
2005 Pioneer Photographers from the Mississippi to the Continental Divide: A Biographical Dictionary, 1839-1865 by Peter E. Palmquist and Thomas R. Kailbourn (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press), pp. 37, 325-327.
2002 Print the Legend: Photography and the American West by Martha A. Sandweiss (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press), pp. 142, 145.
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