Manitoba Photographers: Edwin Clay Blair (1862-1945)
Born at North River, Nova Scotia on 12 September 1862, son of Robert Blair (1824-1889) and Jane Lynds (1823-1909), he moved to the United States in 1881 to work for a camera company founded by his brother Thomas H. Blair (1855-1919) and manage camera stores at New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago. On 5 September 1899, he married Edith Justina Bemis (1879-1930) at Northborough, Massachusetts and they had a son, although the marriage ultimately ended in divorce. He came to Manitoba around 1906 and worked as an itinerant photographer, based at High Bluff, taking photos along the railways of western Canada. In 1908, he opened a photographic studio at Wainwright, Alberta but later returned to High Bluff. Known to suffer from mental illness, and having served time in an insane asylum, he was arrested at Grandview in the fall of 1917 and was charged, according to a local newspaper account, with “manufacturing photographs tending to corrupt public morals.” Six years earlier, he had been sentenced to six months in jail for a similar offence at Dandarand, Alberta. In November 1915, he was sentenced to nine months in jail for sending indecent photographs through the mail. He later moved to British Columbia where he died at New Westminster on 12 December 1945 and was buried in the Woodlands Memorial Garden.
“Locals,” Wainwright Star, 27 November 1908, page 4.
“Six months for Blair,” Edmonton Journal, 9 September 1911, page 7.
“Sent up for trial on a serious charge,” Grandview Exponent, 30 August 1917, page 1.
Death registration, British Columbia Vital Statistics.
Edwin Clay Blair Canadian Photographer by Judith Johnson, Dead and Buried: What Became of the Cemetery at Woodlands?
Thomas Henry Blair (1855-1919), Antique & Classic Camera Blog.
Edwin Clay Blair, FindAGrave.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 27 March 2020