Preservation of the Wm. Thomson Freeland Panoramas - Discovery - Title Banner


Photo: Queen's Park, the provincial Legislature, Toronto, July, 1924
Click to see a larger image (92K)

Queen's Park, the provincial Legislature,
Toronto, July, 1924
M. O. Hammond
Black and White Negative
Reference Code: F 1075
Archives of Ontario, I0001327

The two panorama photographs were discovered on the attic subfloor during renovations at Queen's Park in 2003.

The photograph of Queens Park to the right was taken by M. O. Hammond in 1924. At that time it is likely that the panoramas were hanging in a location where they could be easily seen. But, at some point, as a result of renovations or redecorating in the building, they were taken down and put into storage.

Their sheer size made them very difficult to store and hence they were relocated to the attic where they were hidden from public view for years.

The photo below shows the passageway into the attic adjacent to the location where the photographs were found.

Photo: The passageway into the attic adjacent to the spot where the photographs were found.

Photo: Illustration of the bulk of the heavy wooden frames and hints at the condition of the photos
Click to see a larger image (212K)

Illustration of the bulk of the
heavy wooden frames and hints
at the condition of the photos

The photo to the left illustrates the bulk of the heavy wooden frames and hints at the condition of the photos.

Once the photographs were uncovered officials at Queen's Park were faced with a difficult problem. Due to the work being carried out, the pictures could not remain where they were. But their size made moving them very difficult and safe storage problematic.

Further, it was clear the photographs had already suffered some damage over the years and removing them from the building in their current state would expose them to additional risk.

The Curator of the Government of Ontario Art Collection and Conservators from the Archives were invited to complete an initial assessment of the images and recommend a long-term preservation strategy.

Photo: Inscription bottom left corner of summer scene
Click to see a larger image (121K)

Inscription bottom left corner of summer scene



It was also decided that, in the interests of their long term preservation, the photographs would be transferred into the Archives' custody. This would mean that their new home would be 77 Grenville street, several blocks away. And the only practical way to get them there would be to remove them from their frames and the rigid metal backing.

So, a short term home was found in a large fourth floor storage room in Queen's Park and the long voyage of recovery and rebirth began.

About the Photographer


William Thomson Freeland was born in 1870. While very few details of his career have survived, he is known to have had some interest in photographing boats using a large format or panoramic camera as early as the 1890s. He operated a photographic studio for a period of time on Yonge Street in downtown Toronto but it is unknown how long it was in operation or the type of work that was carried out. It is known that Freeland did some work for the Department of Agriculture.

Perhaps his best known photograph is a panoramic photograph of Toronto that is currently housed in the City of Toronto Archives, Library and Archives Canada and the Toronto Reference Library collection. Created in 1903, "this image, comprising the whole horizon, begins and ends at Union Station . . . ". There are other Freeland panoramas in existence from the same period but none approach the size of the Niagara Falls photographs recently uncovered. Freeland died in 1945 at the age of 75.