Fonds AM1545 - Williams Bros. Photographers Collection

[Cree Indian boy] Baby Jack, Cree Indian Baby Jack, Cree Indian Blackfeet Indian Blackfeet Indian Blackfeet Indian Blackfeet Indian Girl Blackfeet Indians Chief - Cree Indian Chief-Boy - Blackfeet Indian Chief-Boy - Blackfeet Indian Cree Indian Cree Indian Cree Indian Kat-O-Capee - Blackfeet Indian Kat-O-Capee - Blackfeet Indian Kat-O-Capee - Blackfeet Indian Omuxapop Okrista [Indigenous woman] Running Rabbit - Chief Blackfeet Indians Running Rabbit - Chief Blackfeet Indians Sub-Chief - Cree Indian Sub-Chief - Cree Indian "Bonds Buy Ships" sign "Cape Caution" hauling in nets "Cape Caution" pulling in nets with catch "China Hat" boat "China Hat" boat "Cohoe" -  halibut boat "Dinny" Dinosaur, Calgary Zoo "Fort Mumford" "Fort Mumford" [approaching drydock] "Fort Mumford" [entering drydock] "Fort Mumford" [in drydock] "Fort Mumford" in drydock "Fort Mumford" in drydock [being guarded by a soldier] "Fort Mumford" propellor "Hawk" at yacht races "Hunki-Dora" "Hunki-Dora" "Implacable" [at dock] "Kitlup"  sockeye salmon fishing packer "Pig" [carrying case] "Pink-It" display at Hudson Bay Company "Pro Rec" [demonstration in Brockton Oval] Stanley Park "Pro Rec" [demonstration in Brockton Oval] Stanley Park "Pro Rec" [demonstration in] Stanley Park "Pro Rec" [demonstration in] Stanley Park "Pro Rec" [demonstration in] Stanley Park "Pro Rec" [demonstration in] Stanley Park "Pro Rec" [demonstration in] Stanley Park
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Williams Bros. Photographers Collection

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Donn Williams was born Sept.20, 1920 in Lavington, B.C., just outside Vernon. His family moved to Vancouver in 1923 and he was a resident of Vancouver since then with the exception of his five years of service during World War II in the R.C.A.F. and photographic training in California. Prior to enlistment he worked with his father who manufactured furniture and had a retail store on Commercial Drive in Vancouver. In 1939 Donn served with his brother Warner with the Irish Fusiliers Reserve. They served in the R.C.A. F. as aerial photographers from 1940-1945. After the war Donn and Warner furthered their photographic training in a two year program at the Art Centre College in Los Angeles California. On their return to Vancouver in 1948 they co-established a commercial photography studio under the name of Williams Bros. Ltd. In 1950 they opened Williams Colour Photofinishing in addition to their commercial studio. Donn operated the commercial studio and Warner ran the photofinishing lab. The lab was sold in 1981 after the death of Warner in 1980. In 1955 he purchased the Steffens-Colmer Studio. After forty years as a commercial photographer Donn semi-retired in 1988. He closed his studio and continued to work from his home in a semi-active capacity for some of his long time clients until July 1999. On April 30, 1999 Donn changed the name of his company from Williams Bros. Photographers Ltd. to Williams Photography. Donn died on November 1, 1999.

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Biographical history

Don Coltman was born Alfred Donald Coltman on May 29, 1898 in Lutterworth, Leicestershire, England. He arrived in Canada in 1904 with his mother Ada, father Alfred Birbek and brother Rex. The family lived and worked around Lethbridge, Alberta. Don Coltman briefly worked for Canadian Pacific Railway in Lethbridge until 1916 when he joined the Canadian Battalion and was sent to France. During the war, he was buried alive, and then dug out and returned to England with a badly crushed foot. He refused to allow the doctors to amputate his leg; he was left with some damage but maintained the use of his leg for the rest of his life.
After the war Coltman returned to Canada where he and his brother decided to farm 40 acres near Medicine Hat. Coltman did not enjoy farming and went back to work for C.P.R. He met Marie Estelle Dickenson and they married on August 18, 1923. He went on to work all across Canada as the manager for music and appliance departments for various retailers, including the Hudson’s Bay Company. In 1939 he and his family moved from Winnipeg to Vancouver while he was working for Dominion Electrohome Industries. In 1940 he and Marie built on his photography hobby and started making and selling postcards using the darkroom set up in their basement.
Coltman joined Steffens-Colmer Studio as manager in 1941. In 1944 he purchased the business, including the negatives and equipment and operated under the company name Steffens-Colmer Ltd. until 1951. In 1945 Coltman started a firm called Western Photo Electric Supplies which became Photolec and he created a line of equipment named Unicolt. He also invented a new design for a tripod and tripod head. In 1949 he and Wally Hamilton formed a company (purchased from Lew Perry) called Trans-Canada Films. The company was responsible for the film “Silver Harvest” (1951).

From 1951 to 1954 he continued to operate the business under Don Coltman Photographic Company (Don Coltman photos). In 1955 he closed the business and sold his photograph collection to Donn Williams. Williams Bros. Photographers Ltd. utilized these photographic records as stock photographs to complement their own photographic records.
In September 1959 Coltman moved to Toronto to become the Eastern Manager of Taylor, Pearson and Carson Ltd.’s photo division. He passed away in Toronto in 1963.

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Scope and content

The collection consists of negatives, transparencies, prints, negative registers and client cards created or collected by Williams Bros. Photographers Ltd. The collection is comprised of three series: Howard King photographs; Steffens-Colmer Studios Ltd. and Don Coltman Company Photographs and Williams Bros. Photographers Ltd.

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Donated by Donn B.A. Williams in 1987 and 1994 and by Mrs. Bea Williams in 2000 and 2001.


Photographs in this collection have been assigned catalogue numbers with the prefix "CVA 586".

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