Part 2: Focus Series 2013 with George DeWolffe The final of three parts this is a two day workshop to be held on Saturday June 22 and Sunday June 23, 2013: “The Contemplative Landscape” This workshop will provide an intensive learning ...
Tracing its origins to the beginning of the Second World War, Ottawa’s RA Photo Club has a proud record of achievement in support of amateur photography in the national capital region. Founded in 1939 in modest quarters above a downtown restaurant, it focused, in early years, on black and white photography. Fittingly enough, its first Chairperson, Doug White, worked with the National Film Board, a federal agency which gained international renown for its prowess in the photographic arts. As recounted by the club's first Life member, Alice Gillies, in her memoir, A Snapshot of the Past:
1939-1996, brief highlights marked that early phase in club development:
1939 - 40
The members met on Monday evenings in a room above Bowles Lunch, at 3 Rideau Street, adjacent to the Union Station, now the Government Conference Centre.
1941 - 42
Members invited to Jim Newton's home for a darkroom workshop.
1946 - 47
The RA News paid $5 for the best photograph every month from a club member.
1950 - 51
Chairperson Harry Bleinham introduced coloured slides, and a darkroom was installed at 30 Rideau Street. Prints were exhibited at the Odeon and Glebe Theatres, camera shops and Freiman's department store.
1952 - 53
A Christmas party was held at the RA Lodge, 50 Wellington Street.
1955 - 56
Chairperson Don Thorn introduced a Portrait Studio.
1956 - 57
Club fees were raised from $1 to $2; non-members paid $4; the darkroom fee was $4. The meetings were now held at 243 Lisgar Street, in the RA House.
1958 - 59
Membership totaled 50, with 15 members using the darkroom.
The RA Camera Club, the Colour Photographic Association of Canada (CPAC), and the Camera Club of Ottawa met together at the RA Centre. The darkroom in the RA's new quarters on Riverside Drive was introduced by Al Hern.
1963 - 64
A 70" by 70" projection screen was acquired for the first time. The members were divided into two groups: Novice and Advanced.
1964 - 65
Membership rose to 90. A library was set up and a banquet held at the end of the year.
1969 - 70
The Nature Group was informally organized in early 1970.
1975 - 76
The first Open House was successfully organized by Karen Lehmann on May 4, 1976.
1976 - 77
Membership rose to 125. Studio, Fashion and Portraiture were introduced.
1978 - 79
The first Audio-Visual Program was introduced.
1983 - 84
The club's name was changed from RA Camera Club to RA Photo Club.
After much discussion, the Club established criteria for monthly competitions whereby participants advance from the Junior level through Intermediate, Senior and (a very few) to Master levels. At first, there were separate categories for prints and slides but this has evolved into just one top prize for Photographer of the Year.
In 1998 and 2003, the RA Photo Club organized two very successful Canadian Camera Conferences for CAPA (Canadian Association for Photographic Art), hosting photographers from across Canada. Activities included photographic field trips, proficient speakers, wine and cheese events, banquets, barbeques, etc. The RAPC inaugurated Trade Shows as part of these events.
A well-attended full day Planning Session was held in 2006. As a result, there was some organizational re-structuring. Soon after, the Club’s By-Laws were revised and Organization Guidelines were established to provide guidance to future members.
The RA Photo Club is today one of the largest, best equipped, most active and diversified photo clubs in Canada. Initially serving federal government employees only, its services are now open to all who are interested in photography. Home base is the RA Centre, a major recreational complex located at 2451 Riverside Drive, off Bronson Avenue. Thousands of photography enthusiasts have enjoyed its vigorous program of presentations, outings, workshops and special projects and services. Operation of a self- contained darkroom and studio and, more recently, digital resource facilities has provided additional inducement for members to learn and improve photographic skills by active hands-on participation.
Operation of club programs is richly sustained by involving an extraordinarily high proportion of members in executive and group activities. Of some 300 members registered, more than 60 are actively engaged in one or more committees. About one-third of members take part in periodic photo competitions. Many members get involved in one or more special interest groups and activities, with as many as 100 signing up for such popular pursuits as nature, urban or digital photography.
Succeeding years have seen steady progress as club leaders have managed to sustain and expand the scope of photographic activity to serve the ever broadening interests of photo enthusiasts. For many years, club members actively supported other programs of the RA Centre by volunteering to take photos of these activities. An annual "photo blitz" was staged with this objective, so that much of the imagery contained in the centre's periodical RA News was the work of club photographers. Many members have also contributed generously to community projects such as Wildlife Week by providing prints for exhibition.
Widespread interest in the rapid development of digital photography sparked a dramatic increase in club membership from the 100-125 range to 300+ in recent years. Improved communications, especially through a dedicated RA Photo Club web site, has contributed significantly to this expansion. A significant innovation was the formation in 2005-2006 of a new and vibrant Urban Group dedicated to photography in the urban environment. Members of the group got off to an enthusiastic start covering such summer festivals as Dragon Boat Races, Bluesfest, Tulip Festival and the Chamber Music Festival. It is the dedication and passion of RA Photo Club members to all aspects of photography that will continue to make history in the Ottawa region and beyond.
Leadership in club programming has been constantly assured by a succession of able chairpersons and executive committee members, many of whom have maintained club membership over lengthy periods. Chairpersons over the past two decades include:
Bob Matyas (2010-11)
Pierre Gauthier (2008-2010)
Dave Elden (2007-08)
Corry Berghout (2006-07)
Robert James (2004-05, 2005-06)
Tom Ritchie (2003-04)
Barbara Lapointe (2002-03, 1995-96, and 1985-86)
Brian Fogarty (2001-02)
Peter Roberts (2000-01)
Dave Haggarty (1999-2000 and 1992-93)
Linda Brewer (1998-99)
Guy Lorriman (1997-98)
Catherine Kelly (1996-97)
Bill Rankin (1994-95)
Pam McLennan (1993-94)
Joy Macdonell (1991-92)
Ed Overstreet (1990-91)
Bill Bovey (1989-90)
J-P Jerome (1988-89)
Marjorie Leach (1987-88)
All but two of these are still club members.
Life members honoured for dedicated service to the club include: