Through This Lens

2020, Artscape Youngplace
Archival Photography, Canada, Community, culture, history, mid-20th-century photography, Newfoundland, photography
About This Project

Date: TBD
Partners: Artscape Youngplace, MPH Travel, Vide Press, and ACKL design
Location: 180 Shaw Street, Toronto ON, Second Floor Hallway Gallery
Project Members: Sabryna Ekstein
Through This Lens showcases the photography of Charles Fredrick Ruggles. He was the royal photographer for Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Newfoundland in 1951, was published in Life magazine, was the first in Newfoundland to offer colour commercial printing, and his photograph of the Canadian seashore even saw fame as a national stamp. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, Charles Fredrick Ruggles’ photography of Newfoundland helped develop the province’s early visual identity – one that still exists today – yet his contributions remain largely forgotten.
Charles Fredrick Ruggles was my grandfather. He passed away shortly after I was born, and ever since I was little, I’ve heard stories about his work. When I started attempting film photography, my mother often said she wished my grandfather was around to help me. While I have no memory of my grandfather, this exhibition has given me an appreciation for his work and the moments of history that he captured.
In January 2020, I traveled to St. John’s to do archival research for Through This Lens. Thanks to the enormous help at Memorial University, especially in their Centre for Newfoundland Studies, and at The Rooms, I was able to scan photographs taken by Charles Fredrick Ruggles. Most of these photos have never been displayed before and highlight St. John’s, rural Newfoundland, and the Queen’s visit. These photographs present Newfoundland just before, and shortly after, it became a province of Canada. While the photographs may look nostalgic, visitors will be able to draw connections between what they are looking at, and moments in their own lives. Similarly, visitors will be able to identify how his work contributed to Newfoundland’s visual identity, one which still exists today.
Through This Lens will be displayed in the Second Floor Hallway Galleries of Artscape Youngplace (180 Shaw St.). Artscape Youngplace is a “community cultural hub,” and the exhibit will be open to the public free of charge. The venue is used by artists and organizations, as well as families and individuals from the neighbourhood.
The exhibition is made up of photographs by Charles Fredrick Ruggles and newspaper clippings written about his work. Through This Lens also includes a scavenger hunt for kids that helps them explore the photographs displayed. Visitors can similarly participate in an interactive art activity to reflect on what they see in the exhibit.
This exhibition was made possible through the help of my sponsors: Artscape Youngplace, MPH Travel, Vide Press, and ACKL design.
I would like to thank Memorial University, The Rooms, Katie Harris & her family and Joan & Klaus, who helped me tremendously when I was in St. John’s. I would also like to thank my sponsors, Artscape Youngplace, MPH Travel, Vide Press, and ACKL design, for, without them, this would not have been possible. Finally, I would like to thank my friends, family, and the iSchool, who have been there anytime I needed to talk.