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ARCHIVED - William James Topley:
Reflections on a Capital Photographer

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The Studio

Immigration Photography

Perhaps the best known of Topley's government assignments was undertaken for the Immigration Branch of Canada's Department of the Interior at the Quebec immigration centre in 1910. While the Department already had many images showing Canada's natural riches and bountiful harvests (many of which were taken by Topley's brother Horatio Needham Topley, who worked for the Department of the Interior), it also wanted good pictures of "real" immigrants. The Department believed that photographs of new arrivals, categorized by nationality, would encourage others from the same country and of similar social standing to immigrate to Canada. Hundreds of copies of Topley's images were sent to immigration agents in Canada and abroad who showed them, in the form of lantern slides, to thousands of prospective Canadians. Railway companies, newspapers, magazines and others also used these photographs.

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