Interview with Alison Skyrme


00:00:00 The History and Impact of the Kodak Canada Corporate Collection

If you would like to know more about the collection, you can visit us here at the Ryerson University Library and Archives. We're on the fourth floor of the library building at Ryerson which is located at the corner of Gould and Yonge Street next to the Student Learning Center. You can also visit our website at or you can email us at .

The Kodak Canada Collection was actually the start of the Special Collections department here at Ryerson. It means quite a lot to us. It was sort of how we started collecting ephemera and collecting objects related to research interests at Ryerson. Of course, it's really important for the photography program and for the photographic and film preservation programs and gives a history of how photography through Kodak, influenced Canada and influenced the city. But as well it gives a lot of information about how companies were run in the early 20th century and it gives a sort of view of how the employees at Kodak were engaged with their jobs and engaged with the company and it's sort of a different model than we see today which I think can be really interesting for researchers.

Some of the other things of interest in the collection are the logbooks that indicate what film was produced how much of it and when, when they changed over from one film stock to another and how much of they produce, their advertising budget. The advertising collection itself is really fascinating. You can kind of go through how photography was advertised to Canadians through the centuries and looking at the how they advertised in niche markets like farmers, how things changed during the war years in terms of advertising and how they had more focus on family and how they encouraged women to take pictures of their families of their children and send them to their loved ones overseas. It's really traces more than just the history of photography, it's really the history of advertising, the history of production and in Toronto the history of even the buildings in Toronto when you look at the collections of photographs that were taken during the at Kodak Heights. I mean it's the history of the Mount Dennis neighbourhood really, how it's sort of the beginnings of their production there. It's really the history of a city, and the history of a country and the history of a product sort of all rolled into one.

00:02:30 Takeaways from the Exhibition

I think some of the things that you could take away from the exhibition are first of all, how much Kodak Canada affected the way Toronto builds physically. Its physical structures of Toronto and how the neighbourhood grew up around Kodak and Mount Dennis. But also, how Kodak and photography affected Canadians and how it was used and how important vernacular photography was in the lives of Canadians from from very early on. But I think something that's also there, is how the company affected the employees and how the employees in turn affected the company and how they also built the company and had impact on how the the company functions.

00:03:14 Suggestion Box in the Collection

There's a wonderful object that we have in the collection which is a suggestion box where Kodak employees would write down suggestions and and give them in. The suggestion book tracks all of the suggestions that were given and whether or not they were implemented, as well as how much money that they got as a bonus and it just really shows how engaged employees were in the company. And then we have images of sort of fun things that they would do, picnics and lawn bowling and how engaged the employees were with each other socially as well. It's just– it's a very different model than that which we see today and I think that you see definitely how Kodak as a company affected Canadians but you also see how how those Canadians affected the company.