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Photograph of William Augustus Leggo

William Augustus Leggo

Born January 25, 1830 at City of Québec; died July 21, 1915 at Lachute, Quebec


Leggo was an engraver in the family business.

In 1863 the William A. Leggo Company began to offer its engraving, lithographing, and electrotyping services.

By 1864 William A. Leggo and George-Édouard Desbarats were the sole remaining partners in the company.

In 1865 Leggo patented the photochemical reproduction technique known as leggotyping.

In 1868 Leggo and Desbarats set up a business, Leggo and Company, in Montréal.

In 1869 Leggo patented a new method for reproducing photographs, known as granulated photography.

On June 3, 1871, the first granulated photograph showing the custom-house in Montréal appeared in the Canadian Illustrated News.

Despite his partnership with Desbarats, all of the photographic patents were in Leggo's name.

Sample of inventions patented in Canada by Leggo

Patent Number Filing Date Title
61 1869 An Improvement in Photographic Camera
67 1869 An Improvement in Photography
683 1870 Electro Metallic Printing
12877 1881 Improvement in Automatic Telegraphy
27342 1887 Telegraphic Alphabet

Drawing of George-Édouard Desbarats

George-Édouard Desbarats

Born 1838 at Québec; died 1893


Desbarats trained as a lawyer and was called to the Lower Canada Bar in 1859.

During the 1860s he joined his father, a printing partner at the William A. Leggo Company.

By 1864, after the death of Desbarats Sr., William A. Leggo and George-Édouard Desbarats were the sole remaining partners in the company.

In 1869 Desbarats accepted the offer of Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald to become the first official printer of Canada.

In 1865 and 1869, he helped his partner finance, develop, and utilize the photographic processes known as "leggotyping" and granulated photography.

Desbarats published the Canadian Illustrated News from 1869 to 1883.