If tradition holds true, the Owen Sound Camera Club met for the first time on the evening of September 12, 1956 at the old YMCA located then at the corner of 10th Street and 3rd Avenue East. When I speak of tradition, I mean the meeting time, which is the second Wednesday of the month. The first club President was possibly a manager at Bell Canada named Mr. Ecobichon. We’ve had, and still have, members from all walks of life. Some of our earlier members included hairdressers Eva Patchell and Winetta MacDonald; an electrician named Larry Leonard; Alice Cook, R.N.; Dr. Art Middlebro, medical doctor; Ted Scarrow, shoe store owner; Nelson Maher, printer; and Don McLeod, postal clerk.
The Club moved to the new CIA building with Ted Scarrow as President, and began entering the Georgian Bay Regional Camera Club competitions, vying for bragging rights over neighbouring clubs from Collingwood, Orillia, Barrie and Midland, and later from Huntsville, Meaford-Thornbury and Alliston. These events were held in the spring with the clubs taking turns hosting, and at one point, some clever chap designed and built a scoring machine.
At the Regionals, a number of trophies were awarded annually and the competition was tough. By 1980 the Club had reached its zenith. An April 29th 1980, a news item in the Owen Sound Sun Times reported the Club’s successful showing in Huntsville. Then President Mike Prevost earned a trophy for his photo essay, Summer Swans, and the Club placed first overall in both Pictorial and Nature slides. Prints were being accepted for the first time.
Mike Prevost was President from 1979 to 1981. Other Presidents over the years included Shirley Macklin, Don McLeod, Grace Armstrong, Art and Ruth Clarke, Carole Bates, Don Bates, who designed the Club’s logo, Frank Weaver, and Helene Weaver. There were others, and it would be difficult to name them all, however Greg McMillan was the President during the club’s 50th year and the current President is Melissa Crannie. Some other meeting places over the years include the basement of the Tom Thomson Art Gallery, Division St. United Church, the Marine and Rail Museum, and the Boy Scout centre. The Scout Centre was recently sold, so the meeting place for the Club moved to the Owen Sound Market building behind City Hall. After a couple of years at the Market, the folks at Foto Art have kindly allowed us to hold our meetings in the spacious quarters in the back of their store.
One of the highlights of the Club’s activities was hosting the NAPA (National Association for Photographic Arts, now CAPA, the Canadian Association for Photographic Art) annual “convention”, known as Camera Canada College, in mid June of 1976. The event was never held in as small a centre as Owen Sound. The NAPA Executive from Toronto paid us a visit when we volunteered to make sure we could accommodate their needs. All 35 members were assigned jobs, headed by President Helene Weaver and Grace Armstrong was appointed as Chair of Camera Canada College. During the previous winter, Grace helped to promote the event by sitting on top of her car in the Winter Carnival Parade with her tripod and camera clicking away.
The City of Owen Sound was a great help by providing dinner at the Paragon for the 19 speakers that arrived to take part. The Grey County School Board (now the Bluewater School Board) leased some classrooms at Hillcrest School for the workshops and the Home Ec room for developing and printing. MP Eddie Sargent offered a special rate at the Downtowner Hotel. Apparently, he was a little disappointed that more people didn’t order drinks. The new YMCA catered to the 470 delegates. People loved the food with shrimp in abundance. Two yachts provided by the Georgian Yacht Club were recruited to take visitors on a scenic trip to White Cloud Island. Camera Canada College 1976 drew people from every province but Newfoundland and a few from the United States. This of course filled every motel in the city and then some.
The College ended with a profit, which was unheard of. The National Executive told the Club to spend it as they pleased. A photo from Midland’s Budd Watson was purchased and donated to the Owen Sound Public Library. It still hangs in the Auditorium downstairs.
The Owen Sound Camera Club has organized many outings through the years, as we still do to this day. The late Nels Maher revealed where to find rare ferns around Owen Sound. Each year a few cars filled with ambitious members would head up the Bruce Peninsula at orchid time to spend the day lying on the ground photographing the wildflowers that abound there.
The Club used to participate in Owen Sound’s Winter Carnival when for three years, they put on a three-projector slide show offering some of the great images captured on the Bruce Peninsula as well as other local scenery along with music and commentary. When the Division Street Church hall was filled, people were shown to the gallery.
On the 25th Anniversary of the Club in 1981, an exhibition of work from about 15 members was displayed at Yvonne McTeir’s Georgian Gallery and Trophy Shop. The 50 or so images reflected the Club’s varying interests from wildflowers in perfect bloom, to experimental darkroom techniques.
The 50th Anniversary came and went rather quietly but then President Greg McMillan helped transition the club’s membership from approximately 15 members to double the size. The club’s only publicity at the time was word of mouth, its involvement in a regional print competition with other clubs from the Midland area, and the odd meeting notice in the Owen Sound Sun Times. Greg set out to change this by developing this website to mark the OSCC’s place on the internet and has since increased their digital footprint with the creation of a Club Facebook Page, a Flickr Group page, a Twitter account, and a Critique Group page for members only, also on Facebook.
The Owen Sound Camera Club celebrated its 60th Anniversary in 2016 with Randy O’Hara as President. A lot has changed in 60+ years. The faces are different, our community has changed to some extent, the art, medium, science – or what have you – of photography has changed. But one thing remains the same – the Owen Sound Camera Club member, a person with a passion for photography, the desire to grab that camera and press the shutter to share their vision with friends, family, and now, if you’re reading this web page, the world.