Montreal Photographer c1910?-1920s

As with many of the Montreal photographers, we sometimes have little or no information on them, so any info from people who may have known/met them might give us some clues for further research on these photographers.

Dorothy Bessex, who would visit the Staples, with her parents, when she was a young child in the 1920s writes:

My father, Arthur John Jones, came to Drummondville in 1910 and later worked for the Grand Trunk Railway at Turcot yards. He boarded with the Staples family in St Henri for many years, probably 1912 to 1919. They lived at various places in St Henri - at one time on Laporte street. Staples' wife's name was Josephine and their son was called Herbie.

The Staples had a photography business from the early years until the 1920's I think. One of my earliest memories is seeing a photo developing in a tank. I must have been about 3 years old (I'm now 76). 

Mr. Staples was one of Dr. Barnardo's Home Children but I know so little about them.

During the 1917 flu epidemic, while living with the Staples, my father nearly died and I've been told that his fiancee did die. His fiancee was the sister of Josephine Staples. My father then returned to England in 1919, wanting nothing more to do with Canada. He did however return and Mrs Staples was a friend until well into the 1930's.

As I understood it, Herbert  took the pictures and Josephine developed them (as well as looking after the boarders.)  I dont know how many boarders the Staples had, but during the flu epidemic the doctor called every day so there must have been more than Dad and Josephine's sister.

In the 1920s, a roll of film was 6 exposures and each week my mother took a roll of film of "her baby" (me) and took it to Josephine to develop and make prints so she could send them to her unmarried sisters in England. 

Mrs Staples (Josephine) gave my mother a box camera when I was born and I won one of my own  when I was 7 and there has never been a camera out of my hands since. It must have been breathing in the developing fumes in Herbert Staple's darkroom when very young that gave me my chief hobby!


I can only guess at the age of Herbie, the son, and therefore the date of the photograph.  I would guess Herbie was born about 1908, because he seemed grown up to me, when I was a child. In this photo of the 3 of them, he seems about 7 or so, which would date the photo c1915. Will have to check the Montreal City directories to find where, in St. Henri, the Staples were living during this time.

Herbert Staples
from the collection of Dorothy Bessex

Josephine Staples
from the collection of Dorothy Bessex

The Staples at home in St. Henri
Josephine, Herbie, Herbert
from the collection of Dorothy Bessex

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