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