Nancy M. Lee

By: Nancy M. Lee

 Nancy Lee in interview with Thy Phu at the ROM. (Photo: C. Barreto, 2017)

Nancy Lee in interview with Thy Phu at the ROM. (Photo: C. Barreto, 2017)

Nancy Lee, a proud mother of six, and a grandmother of three, was born and raised in Toronto. For the last fourteen years she has resided in Barrie, Ontario with her husband Doug.

Over twenty-three years ago, Nancy began the long search to uncover her black ancestry.  As a woman of colour, and from an inter-racial family, Nancy always had deep connections to her African-American, and African-Canadian roots and familial connections. Her mother Nancy Stubbs was born in Carlisle, England and migrated to Canada via steamship in 1926 at the age of six. Her father, Norman ‘Diddy’ Henry Lee, was a multigeneration Canadian of Afro-Canadian and Caucasian heritage. Diddy often shared fond memories of his maternal grandmother, ‘Grammy Miller,’ with his family and from a young age, influenced Nancy’s drive to understand the woman who had left such an indelible mark on Diddy. Without even knowing her great-grandmother’s given or maiden names, Nancy started her journey to finding her black roots and uncovering where she came from.

Through her research Nancy discovered direct ancestral connections going back five generations in the Grey County area of northern Ontario. Her genealogical journey also took her to southwestern Ontario and back again to her hometown of Toronto. Nancy, eventually, was able to tell the story of not only her Dad’s grandmother, Grammy Miller (Fannie Jane Buckner), but that of Fannie’s daughters as well, whom she now affectionately refers to as the ‘Miller Girls’.

During her interview Nancy shared turn of the century ancestral photos including those of the ‘Miller Girls’, ‘Grammy Miller’ and Fannie’s mother-in-law Margaret Deadman-Miller-Bird. Nancy also talked about her journey to discover her black heritage and how the strength and fortitude of her ancestors have left their mark on her life, and that of her children.

 Norman H. Lee (Diddy) and Frank Newton Lee Jr. (Newtie), on a pony near St. Patrick Street. Around 1920. Unknown Photographer. Toronto, Ontario. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Nancy M. Lee. Courtesy of The Family Camera Network and the Royal Ontario Museum. 2018.31.2. (Photo: 2017 © ROM)

Norman H. Lee (Diddy) and Frank Newton Lee Jr. (Newtie), on a pony near St. Patrick Street. Around 1920. Unknown Photographer. Toronto, Ontario. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Nancy M. Lee. Courtesy of The Family Camera Network and the Royal Ontario Museum. 2018.31.2. (Photo: 2017 © ROM)


Nancy's photos and their stories can be accessed in The Family Camera Network public archive at the Royal Ontario Museum and in the ROM's online collections.

The Lum Family

By: The Lum Family

 IN INTERVIEW WITH THY PHU, RAYMOND LUM DISCUSSES his father’s identification carD used to immigrate from Hong Kong to Vancouver on the Empress of Canada in 1922, which WAS ON DISPLAY AS PART OF  THE FAMILY CAMERA  Exhibition   (ROM, MAY - OCTOBER 2017) (PHOTO: A. MANGAARD, 2017).

IN INTERVIEW WITH THY PHU, RAYMOND LUM DISCUSSES his father’s identification carD used to immigrate from Hong Kong to Vancouver on the Empress of Canada in 1922, which WAS ON DISPLAY AS PART OF THE FAMILY CAMERA Exhibition (ROM, MAY - OCTOBER 2017) (PHOTO: A. MANGAARD, 2017).

The Lum family–Raymond (b. 1952), Sharon (née Gibb, b. 1948) and their eldest daughter Julia (b. 1982)–are from Vancouver (Mitchell, b. 1988, and Victoria, b. 1990 were not present for the interview). Raymond’s adoptive parents emigrated from the Pearl River Delta region of Guangdong Province, China, and were members of Vancouver’s diasporic community who came to Canada during a period of discriminatory race-based immigration laws (the head tax, 1885-1923; the Chinese Immigration Act, 1923-1947). “Tommy” Ming Lum came to Canada in 1922 and Irene Lum (née Tseng Yook Lan) in 1940. In this interview, three family members discuss photographs on display at the ROM’s The Family Camera exhibition, including Ming’s 1922 identification portrait and head tax certificate, a photograph of Irene posing with her “paper family” in Victoria, B.C., a marriage photo, and a 2016 photo documenting the first ever meeting of Raymond, Sharon, Julia and Victoria with several members of the extended Lum family in Zhongshan City, China. They also sit down to examine family photos in an album composed by Ming, photos of Raymond and Sharon’s wedding, as well as photos of the family from more recent years. They discuss Raymond’s adoption, the family’s mixed-race identity, and the role of photography in documenting family history. Raymond is a photographer based in Vancouver. His still life works Tribute and Robert Fuller Gibb are biographical portraits created using the assembled belongings of Ming and Sharon’s late father, Robert Gibb, respectively.

 IRENE LUM (CENTRE LEFT) WITH HER "PAPER FAMILY," THE WONGS. PHOTOGRAPHED BY JIM WING YUEN. 1940-1941. VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA. GELATIN SILVER PRINT. GIFT OF THE LUM FAMILY. COURTESY OF THE FAMILY CAMERA NETWORK AND THE ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM.

IRENE LUM (CENTRE LEFT) WITH HER "PAPER FAMILY," THE WONGS. PHOTOGRAPHED BY JIM WING YUEN. 1940-1941. VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA. GELATIN SILVER PRINT. GIFT OF THE LUM FAMILY. COURTESY OF THE FAMILY CAMERA NETWORK AND THE ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM.


The Lum family's photos and interview can be accessed in The Family Camera Network public archive at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Jade Pichette

By: Sajdeep Soomal

  Video still of Jade Pichette in interview at the Clga (2018).

Video still of Jade Pichette in interview at the Clga (2018).

Jade Pichette is a 31-year-old trans, non-binary femme, anti-oppressive social worker who was the Volunteer and Community Outreach Coordinator at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives at the time of their interview. Born and raised in Ottawa, Ontario by their bisexual mom, they were involved in a range of activist communities and projects since childhood. In the interview, we look through Jade’s large archive of digital photographs, as well as a few childhood photos before Jade started transitioning. As the only out trans student during high school, Jade was involved in LGBTQ2+ activism from a young age. After many years organizing protests for anti-war movements, spiritual gatherings and other causes beyond LGBTQ2+ politics, Jade turned toward other forms of community organizing to facilitate political change as they moved to Toronto – namely social work, anti-oppressive consulting and dedicating more time to their religious community – Heathenry (Ásatrú). In the interview, we learn about Jade’s Kindred, who they describe as family.

 Photo of Jade at the Vindisir Kindred Winterfinding blót gathering taken by one of their kindred. Ridgetown Ontario. October 2017. Courtesy of Jade Pichette and the Canadian Lesbian and gay archives.

Photo of Jade at the Vindisir Kindred Winterfinding blót gathering taken by one of their kindred. Ridgetown Ontario. October 2017. Courtesy of Jade Pichette and the Canadian Lesbian and gay archives.


Jade's photos and interview can be accessed in The Family Camera Network public archive at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.

Margaret Seaton Corry (née Smith)

By: Deepali Dewan

 Interview with Margaret’s niece, Beverley Martin and her daughter, Tracy Martin, at the Royal Ontario Museum. (Photo: C. Barreto, 2016).

Interview with Margaret’s niece, Beverley Martin and her daughter, Tracy Martin, at the Royal Ontario Museum. (Photo: C. Barreto, 2016).

Margaret’s parents migrated to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland; her father came first by boat in April 1904 and was joined later by her mother and two older brothers. Margaret and her younger sister Helen were born in Canada and the family home served as the first stop for other newcomers from Glasgow. Margaret married Nick Corry and spent almost two decades traveling around the world because of his position in the United National Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). From 1947-1963, they were stationed in locations in the Middle East and Asia—China, India, Sri Lanka, Iran, Philippines, and Thailand—at a time of profound historical and geopolitical change. She returned home to Canada periodically on leave, passing through post-WWII Europe and United States, and attended family reunions at her mother’s cottage by the lake in Northern Ontario. These experiences are captured in a series of 20 albums that Margaret painstakingly put together that contain a running narrative of her experiences in the form of a typed text alongside the photographs. The photos were mostly taken by herself and Nick, as many images show them holding cameras, along with some taken by their traveling companions, and commercial images that Margaret picked up or was gifted along the way. The captions are written in an intimate and informal voice, resembling a long letter home. Indeed, these albums may have been put together as a way to share her experiences with family in Canada. The albums have survived in the home of several family members, finally resting with Margaret’s niece, who in the interview recalls Aunt Margaret as the sophisticated world traveler who was often away. The collection includes two older family albums likely put together by Margaret and other non-photographic documents relating to the family history. Through these items, Margaret seems to have functioned as the self-chosen family archivist, perhaps as a way to make sense of her own place in a world marked by movement, which dominated her life too but in a different way than her ancestors. 

 Margaret Corry, album-page showing elephant riding in Jaipur, India. From Margaret Corry’s album of travels through Hyderabad, Ajanta, Dehra Dun, Madras, Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Gaspe, Quebec, and Ontario. 1954. Gelatin silver prints and typed captions mounted on paper. Gift of Beverley Martin. Courtesy of The Family Camera Network and the ROM. 2017.34.10.26 (Photo: Courtesy of Brian Boyle MPA, FPPO photo, 2017 © ROM). 

Margaret Corry, album-page showing elephant riding in Jaipur, India. From Margaret Corry’s album of travels through Hyderabad, Ajanta, Dehra Dun, Madras, Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Gaspe, Quebec, and Ontario. 1954. Gelatin silver prints and typed captions mounted on paper. Gift of Beverley Martin. Courtesy of The Family Camera Network and the ROM. 2017.34.10.26 (Photo: Courtesy of Brian Boyle MPA, FPPO photo, 2017 © ROM). 


The Corry albums, the Martin collection, and their stories can be accessed in The Family Camera Network public archive at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Teo Owang

By: Sajdeep Soomal

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Teo Owang is a 46-year-old queer mom to a nine-year-old boy named Matthew. Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Teo migrated to Canada after high school. Transferring to NYU soon after, she lived a different life in New York for several years, marrying a man, de-Africanizing herself and working briefly as a model. Returning to Canada at the age of 30, Teo developed a relationship with a woman that ended rather tragically, but marked the beginning of a new chapter in her queer life. In the interview, Teo talks about 10 photographs, including a studio portrait of her parents, nude pictures of Teo while she was pregnant with Matthew, and a photograph of her kissing her son Matthew when he was a baby. Teo talks about her other queer siblings and how coming out as queer strained relations with her mother.

 Teo kissing her son, matthew. Unknown photographer. 2008. digital image of a dye coupler print behind glass. Gift of Teo owang. Courtesy of the family camera network and the Canadian lesbian and gay archives.

Teo kissing her son, matthew. Unknown photographer. 2008. digital image of a dye coupler print behind glass. Gift of Teo owang. Courtesy of the family camera network and the Canadian lesbian and gay archives.


Teo's photos and interview can be accessed in The Family Camera Network public archive at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.

Cecilio Escobar

By: Sajdeep Soomal

 Cecilio Escobar in interview with Elspeth Brown and Sajdeep Soomal at CLGA (Photo: C. Barreto, 2017)

Cecilio Escobar in interview with Elspeth Brown and Sajdeep Soomal at CLGA (Photo: C. Barreto, 2017)

Cecilio Escobar is a 27-year-old trans Latinx who grew up in Toronto and Mississauga, Ontario. His parents and extended family emigrated to Canada from El Salvador before he was born. In the interview, Cecilio talks about two sets of materials – a collection of analog photographs held by his mother and his personal set of video diaries and digital photographs. After a brief period identifying as lesbian while attending OCADU, Cecilio began to figure out his trans identity and explore his Latinx heritage. In 2016, Cecilio transitioned and had top surgery at the McLean Clinic in Mississauga, ON. In both interviews, he discusses his closeness with and love for his family, especially his mom and elder brother, but also his queer and trans “chosen family” and his “son” – his cat Percy. As a fine arts student, photography and videography have always been important to Cecilio.

 Cecilio and his son/cat, Percy. Photographed by Cecilio Escobar. c. 2016. Toronto, Ontario. Digital Image. Gift of Cecilio Escobar. Courtesy of The Family Camera Network and the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.

Cecilio and his son/cat, Percy. Photographed by Cecilio Escobar. c. 2016. Toronto, Ontario. Digital Image. Gift of Cecilio Escobar. Courtesy of The Family Camera Network and the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.


Cecilio's photos and interview can be accessed in The Family Camera Network public archive at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.

Pat Antliff

By: Pat Antliff

 Pat Antliff in interview with Thy Phu. Videographer: Annette Mangaard. Photo: C. Barreto, 2018.

Pat Antliff in interview with Thy Phu. Videographer: Annette Mangaard. Photo: C. Barreto, 2018.

Pat Antliff was seven when her mother gave her a Brownie Hawkeye box camera, sparking her interest in photography. Nowadays, a camera – or two – is never far from reach.  Photography has become her passion and creative outlet, enabling her to document travel, street scenes and landscapes.  Her family lives in a lakeside community and like most parents, she enjoys capturing milestones and special moments as her children grew.  While photographs have always connected her to the memories of her own past and shared moments with relatives and friends, she wasn’t prepared for the journey of discovery that arrived a couple of years ago by way of an old suitcase inherited from her father.

This suitcase revealed a treasure trove of old family photographs and took her on a journey into the distant past.  Relatives of Irish and English origins gazed out at her from formal portraits and, later, in snapshots. They posed in horse-drawn carriages, long gowns, and with children whose life stories have now been written.  Amongst these photographs, one stood out: her Grandmother’s graduation picture, taken by the famed Notman Studio.  Pat had only ever known her Grandmother, Greta Dougall, as a child but never understood her as a person.  She discovered they had both chosen non-traditional careers; Greta’s dream was to become a businesswoman. In 1921, Greta was the first woman to graduate from McGill University’s Bachelor of Commerce program. However, her ambitions were thwarted by a male-dominated industry.  Pat has been a Cyber Security Professional for the past 30 years, an industry with only 11% female representation.  Although they are from different eras, through the photos and narrative of her Grandmother’s life, Pat came to recognize and relate not only to the professional challenges Greta faced but also her tenacity, courage, and resilience in response to these challenges.

 Graduation portrait of Greta Dougall. Photographed by William Notman and Sons Photographic Studio. 1921. Montreal, Quebec. Gelatin silver print on card. Gift of Pat Antliff. Courtesy of The Family Camera Network and the ROM.

Graduation portrait of Greta Dougall. Photographed by William Notman and Sons Photographic Studio. 1921. Montreal, Quebec. Gelatin silver print on card. Gift of Pat Antliff. Courtesy of The Family Camera Network and the ROM.


Pat's photos and interview can be accessed in The Family Camera Network public archive at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Sajdeep Soomal

By: Sajdeep Soomal

 Sajdeep Soomal in interview with Elspeth Brown and Vinh nguyen at the CLGA (Photo: C. Barreto, 2018)

Sajdeep Soomal in interview with Elspeth Brown and Vinh nguyen at the CLGA (Photo: C. Barreto, 2018)

Sajdeep Soomal (Saj) is a 23-year-old Punjaban who grew up in Cambridge, Ontario and left for Montreal after graduating high school. In two interviews, we hear from Saj at two junctures in their coming-of-age story. In the first interview, working through a large selection of family photographs that Saj assembled for mural in his childhood home, we learn about his extended family’s migration journey and diasporic struggles. In the second interview, we take a look at a selection of recent born-digital photographs and childhood videos of Saj. Weaving through their identifications, flirtations and commitments to gayness, queerness, transness, and khusraness at different points, Saj talks about the ongoing challenges of finding home in their injured body. Saj repeatedly returns to the importance of family in their life, emphasizing how close they are to their younger sister.

 Sajdeep Soomal at SAVAC (South Asian Visual Arts Centre). Digital image. Photographed by Sajdeep soomal. Mar 15, 2017. Toronto, Ontario. gift of Sajdeep Soomal. Courtesy of The Family Camera Network and the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.

Sajdeep Soomal at SAVAC (South Asian Visual Arts Centre). Digital image. Photographed by Sajdeep soomal. Mar 15, 2017. Toronto, Ontario. gift of Sajdeep Soomal. Courtesy of The Family Camera Network and the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.


Sajdeep's photos and interview can be accessed in The Family Camera Network public archive at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.

The Sinha-Brendemühl Family

By: Deepali Dewan

 Interview with Debashis Sinha and Jutta Brendemühl at their home in Toronto. (Photo: D. Dewan, November 2016)

Interview with Debashis Sinha and Jutta Brendemühl at their home in Toronto. (Photo: D. Dewan, November 2016)

Debashis was born and raised in Winnipeg. His Bengali parents moved to Canada from Bihar, India in the 1960s. Jutta’s parents fled East Germany after WWII with only two suitcases, and Jutta was born in West Germany. In 1999, she emigrated alone as an adult to Toronto. Jutta and Debashis married in Toronto and then adopted their daughter from an orphanage in Kolkata, India. In this interview, we look at the role that photographs played in Jutta’s life especially when she became the family photographer at a young age after her father’s death, and how photographs reflected rites of passage for Debashis when he was traveling in the world and starting his music career. We also discuss the important role photographs played before and after the arrival of their daughter, Leena, and throughout the adoption process. There is the album that Jutta and Debashis had to put together for the orphanage to select them, the one that the orphanage put together for Leena of her life before adoption, the one about her Canadian family that Debashis and Jutta put together for Leena before her arrival, and ones they have created together. These are kept on a living room shelf where Leena can easily access them. In the albums are photographs that recreate situations from many years earlier and photographs where Leena is in the same pose as Jutta as a young girl. Every Christmas the family has a photo taken with Santa that joins others from previous years on their kitchen fridge. Through family photos, they hope that Leena will always have something to make sense of who she is and where she came from. The photos include analogue prints, analogues prints that have been scanned and reprinted in albums, digital scans of analogue prints, and born-digital images taken with cameras and cellphones. Among them are family photos that Leena has started to make herself. 

 Leena with an iPhone 4. Photographed by Leena. Around 2011. Toronto, Ontario. Digital photograph. Gift of the Sinha/Brendemühl family. Courtesy of The family Camera Network and the ROM. 

Leena with an iPhone 4. Photographed by Leena. Around 2011. Toronto, Ontario. Digital photograph. Gift of the Sinha/Brendemühl family. Courtesy of The family Camera Network and the ROM. 


The Sinha-Brendemühl family's photos and interview can be accessed in The Family Camera Network public archive at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Mudit Ganguly

By: Sajdeep Soomal

 Mudit Ganguly in interview with Elspeth Brown at the CLGA (Photo: C. Barreto, 2017)

Mudit Ganguly in interview with Elspeth Brown at the CLGA (Photo: C. Barreto, 2017)

 Skype conversation between Mudit Ganguly and his parents, Mali and Alin. Screenshot by Mudit Ganguly. 2017. Toronto, Ontario; Mumbai, India. Digital image. Gift of Mudit Ganguly.   Courtesy of The Family Camera Network and the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.   

Skype conversation between Mudit Ganguly and his parents, Mali and Alin. Screenshot by Mudit Ganguly. 2017. Toronto, Ontario; Mumbai, India. Digital image. Gift of Mudit Ganguly. Courtesy of The Family Camera Network and the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.

 


Mudit Ganguly is a queer 23-year-old graduate student in the OCADU digital futures program who grew up in Mumbai, India and came to Canada in September 2016 to begin his graduate training. In this interview, we look at two sets of photographs – one set of analog photos that belong to his mother, and another that document his queer family of friends in Toronto and Mumbai. Knowing that he was gay since childhood and growing up in a progressive family, Mudit talks about how his parents accepted him before and after coming out. He communicates with them now through Skype once a week – his elder brother sets up the camera for them so that the Skype can unfold. Mudit understands himself as an activist on behalf of queer human rights in India and elsewhere. His first gay pride parade was in 2013 in Mumbai; just two years later homosexuality was re-criminalized. Most of the snapshots from this period were taken on his phone and placed on Facebook; they mostly document his queer friendship circle.


Mudit's photos and interview can be accessed in The Family Camera Network public archive at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.