New Brunswick

Fredericton photography studio purges old negatives

A well-known Fredericton photography business is purging its old negatives to make room to expand. Harvey Studios donated thousands of historical photos to provincial archives and is selling family portrait negatives from the 1950s to the public.

Donates historical photos to provincial archives, offers portrait negatives from 1950s to public

Harvey Studios captured a visit from the Queen in Fredericton. (Submitted/Harvey Studios)

A Fredericton photography studio is cleaning out some of its archives to make room for an expansion of the renowned business that's played a role in documenting the city's history. 

Harvey Studios has been in business since 1883, in the same downtown location on Queen Street. 

The business is well-known for its portrait sessions, school photography and sports team photos.

But Harvey Studios also captured much of Fredericton outside the studio walls and in the community as a commercial photographer, snapping decades of history, and selling the photos to the newspaper and businesses. 

Mehrdad Bastan holds a photo of Babe Ruth visiting Fredericton. (Gary Moore/CBC)

"There were not many photographers back then, so we were always part of the 'main event' photographers," said Mehrdad Bastan, president of the company. 

"We have many visits, royalty visits, Queen Elizabeth, of course, when she was young," Bastan said, describing some of the black-and-white photos the company snapped over the years. 

"We were official photographers for those events."

When Babe Ruth showed up at a sports store in Fredericton wearing an elaborate fur coat, looking at hunting rifles, Harvey Studios was there to capture the Great Bambino in the moment.

Fredericton's Harvey Studios has been in business since 1883 and is now donating old pictures and selling family portrait negatives from the 1950s to free up space. 1:58

The business recently donated thousands of negatives documenting Fredericton's past to the provincial archives. 

"They are taking enough [space] that I can't expand and bring more employees to do the job," Bastan said, adding that the company employs between 15 and 45 people, depending on the season. 

Mehrdad Bastan, president of Harvey Studios, holds an old negative to the light. (Gary Moore/CBC)

But it's not just commercial negatives the company is purging.

Harvey Studios is selling its 1950s negatives of family portraits and weddings before the business gets rid of the boxes. 

Harvey Studios uses this old handwritten database to search for negatives from the 1950s. (Gary Moore/CBC)

The company will search its database for a match "if you come and tell us the name of the person you're looking for and what year and what event," Bastan said. "Are you looking for a wedding, or you looking for one of your birthdays?"

The old negatives are documented by hand in various oversized notebooks.  

Bastan said it can take 30 to 45 minutes for staff to look up an old negative when a customer inquires about old photos. 

Downtown Fredericton in 1940s. (Submitted/Harvey Studios)

"Some people — they're surprised that we still have it."

Bastan said people interested in getting some old family photos should contact the shop before the end of March.

About the Author

Gary Moore

CBC News

Gary Moore is a video journalist based in Fredericton.

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