Galbraith Photo Co.

Victoria College

Parliament Buildings

Toronto Fire April 1904

Galbraith Photo Company was established by Alexander W. Galbraith (1867 - 1950) in Toronto in 1901 at 147 Yonge Street, just south of Richmond Street. As an avid amateur photographer, Galbraith had joined the photography firm of Farmer Brothers on Yonge Street in 1898, and then left the firm with another employee, George W. Lucas, to form the photography firm of Galbraith & Lucas in 1899. When the partnership dissolved in 1901, Galbraith maintained the shop, but relocated in 1903 to 245 Yonge Street north of Shuter Street, and later, in 1907 a few doors south to 239 Yonge Street. He moved to 1570 Dundas Street West in 1919. In 1922 he moved to 1 Carleton Street, but closed his photography business in 1924. For six years during the Depression he worked under contract with the Still Pictures Branch of the Ontario Department of the Treasurer.

Galbraith became one of Toronto's most prominent commercial photographers, and later in life, estimated that he had produced about 50,000 pictures during his career. Only hundreds of those photographs seem to have survived.

The City of Toronto Archives hold about 500 Galbraith photos taken between about 1894 and 1950, acquired from the Province of Ontario Archives and the Globe and Mail. The photos feature "prominent businessmen, politicians, and royalty, as well as a wide variety of physical and social settings. Among these are: commercial and public buildings, schools, churches, hotels, private residences, monuments, historic sites, cemeteries, parks, political events, parades, banquets, garden parties, fox hunts, carriages and automobiles.” “Highlights include photographs of the opening ceremonies of Toronto City Hall (1899), Ontario Legislature Buildings at Queen's Park, Government House at Chorley Park, Upper Canada College, University of Toronto, St. Michael's Cathedral, St. James Cathedral, Metropolitan Church, Trinity Church, Carlton Street Methodist Church, Casa Loma, Royal Canadian Yacht Club, Bank of Montreal at Yonge and Front streets, Lord and Lady Minto, Lord and Lady Gray, Sir John Eaton, Toronto Hunt Club, Toronto Canoe Club, the Toronto Fire of 1904, the Canadian National Exhibition, and the construction of Lakeshore Road. Also of particular interest are the many photographs taken north of the City proper. These images show sections of Yonge Street in and around such centres as Aurora, Thornhill, Newmarket, Langstaff, and Newtonbrook, where Galbraith lived after 1915."

The Galbraith Photo Co. generated a number of images of early scenes for cards the company published and which they also sold to other publishers for their use (see particularly the cards of Arthur Strauss Inc. c1902 and the Toronto Litho Co. Ltd.)  The early Galbraith cards seem to date from about 1903. The black and white cards seem to have been used through 1907. A later colour series was also issued.

Queen’s Park

The Steamer Toronto

The Waterfront

Toronto c.1903

Niagara-On-The-Lake c. 1903


Metropolitan Church

Toronto University

Queen’s Royal

Queen’s Royal

St. Mark’s Church

Toronto Fire April 1904

Galbraith black & white cards c. 1904

High Park

Yonge Street

Toronto University

Rosedale Ravine

Industrial Exhibition

Metropolitan Church

Parliament Buildings

King Street

Manufacturers’ Bldg

Review Day, Exhibition

Horse Ring, Exhibition

H.M. Irish Guards Band

Gladstone Hotel

St. James

Galbraith Photo Books

Publication of Souvenir Books was popular at the turn of the 20th century. The James Bayne Company of Grand Rapids Michigan, USA printed a series of souvenir books of Canadian locations including London, Hamilton, Muskoka Lakes, Kingston, Belleville, Brockville, Gananoque, Montreal, Quebec, Ottawa, Riviere du Loup, Thousand Islands, Evangeline Land, Ste. Anne de Beaupre, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown and others,.

Their book “Toronto, Canada, The Queen City” features photos by Galbraith Photo Company, many of which are recognizable from postcards issued by the company. The book is noted to be “Published By Galbraith Photo Co., 245 Yonge Street, Toronto, Canada”.

Centre Island Park

The Steamer Kingston

City Hall, Toronto

Typical Card Backs

Jarvis Street

Victoria College