Title and statement of responsibility area
Personal Studio fonds.
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- Source of title proper: Title from content of the fonds.
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Statement of scale (cartographic)
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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)
Dates of creation area
- Personal Studio
Physical description area
62.5 m of graphic material (ca. 175,000 negatives and 80,000 proof prints) : b&w and col. ; 10 x 13 cm or smaller
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Archival description area
Name of creator
Robert T.G. Nicol, professional photographer and owner of Personal Studio, was born Aug. 16, 1922 in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia. In 1927 the family moved to Stratford, Ont., where he attended local public and high schools. In 1940 his family moved again, this time to Kitchener, Ont; he finished high school at Kitchener Collegiate that year. His photographic career had started earlier, in 1939, when as a 16-year he took pictures of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth when they stopped in Stratford on June 6, 1939 as part of their Royal Tour of Canada. The drugstore where he took the negatives to be developed marketed the photographs which subsequently appeared in many publications.
After completing high school Robert Nicol worked in a variety of jobs in Kitchener-Waterloo, including at Zapfe's Machine Shop, Waterloo Manufacturing and the Ontario Die Co. In 1945 he and an old school friend began to plan a photographic studio that opened for business on March 21, 1946, and of which Nicol was the sole owner by the fall of 1946. For the next fifty years Robert Nicol documented the Waterloo Region through personal and commercial photography. He pioneered the concept of wedding albums in the local area. He had started flying in 1961 and from that time on took aerial photographs as well as studio and candid photography. In the course of his career he maintained memberships in professional photographers' organizations as well as completing continuing photographic educational courses offered by those organizations. He retired as a professional photographer in 1996.
Robert Nicol married Marjorie Gray on Aug. 8, 1941 and had two children, a son and a daughter. Marjorie died in 1987. Robert Nicol married again in 1996 to Renie Andersen, a long-time companion.
Scope and content
Fonds consists of negatives and proof prints taken by Robert T.G. Nicol under the name of Personal Studio between 1946 and 1996. Studio, home portraits and candid photography of families and weddings, as well as commercial jobs for many local industries and businesses document comprehensively the growth and changes in the way of life in the Waterloo Region in the post-war era. Many nationally important companies employed Nicol, some as their "house photographer": these include B.F. Goodrich, Budd Automotive, Mutual Life Insurance Co., Bell Telephone, Electrohome, Raytheon, IBM, and Greb Shoes. Many types of businesses are represented: storefronts and interiors of banks, clothing, department, music, furniture and grocery stores, dairies, factories, restaurants, hotels and motels, churches, service stations, car dealerships, service industries, construction trades, and more.
Immediate source of acquisition
Donated By Robert T.G. Nicol in 2008.
Donor's arrangement retained.
Until 1958, Mr. Nichol filed most of his personal and commercial work together. Starting in 1958, he began a new series of boxes separating out the portrait work from the commercial. Boxes have been labelled "Mixed" (boxes 1a to 5d), "Commercial" (boxes 5e to 40b), or "Portraits" (boxes 1a to 57b) accordingly.
"Portraits" and "Mixed" boxes are arranged chronologically, whereas "Commercial" boxes are arranged roughly alphabetically by company name.
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Listing of the fonds is under way.
Personal Studio photographs related to Wilfrid Laurier University can be found at that institution's Special Collections Dept., call number S719.
Personal Studio negatives of the University of Waterloo were acquired separately and can be found in the University archives, call number 2003-12.