Notman House opens its doors

This past week, the doors officially opened at Montreal’s Notman House — Maison Notman — after more than $7 million was spent on renovations. The house was the former home of 19th-century photographer William Notman. It is now a place for young entrepreneurs and Web developers. In 1979, it was designated a historic building.

Notman House, 2015, Branchez-vous.

Notman House, 2015, Branchez-vous.

Notman House is located at 51 Sherbrooke Street West, about 10 blocks east of McCord Museum where the Notman photographic collection is now housed.

John Wells designed the house in 1844 for lawyer William Collis Meredith. William Notman acquired it in 1876 and lived there until his death in 1891. The house was sold in 1894 to George Drummond who had come to Montreal to manage the Redpath sugar factory. Drummond later turned over the house and the three-story brick building behind to the Society of St. Margaret, who, until 1991, used the properties as a hospital for the terminally ill. Over the last 20 years, the building has seen a number of tenants.

William Notman, photographer, 1863, N-0000.133.13.5, McCord Museum, Montreal, Quebec.

William Notman, photographer, 1863, N-0000.133.13.5, McCord Museum, Montreal, Quebec.

A portion of the Notman photographic collection is available online on McCord Museum’s website. It is a good place to start looking for ancestors’ photos, especially if they have a rare surname.

Notman has intrigued me since I was young and learned that my great-grandmother, Amy Haire (née Young), worked in his studio. Since then, I have discovered at least three other ancestors who worked for Notman, perhaps explaining why there is an abundance of Notman portraits of my family.

Finding all of my family’s photos in the Notman collection was not an easy task. It required many weeks of researching the index books, name by name, and looking at what seemed like thousands of microfilm images.

Notman was a pioneer in photography in the mid-19th century. It is nice to see that the Notman House is now home to people who are pioneers in the creative world of Web technology.

Laurent Lasalle of Branchez-vous wrote about the officially opening of Notman House in Notman, la maison du Web à Montréal, ouvre officiellement ses portes.

McCord Museum provides information about William Notman, his life, work, and family.


About Gail Dever

Gail Dever is a Montreal-based genealogist and blogger and a webmaster for the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa.
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2 Responses to Notman House opens its doors

  1. Barbara T. says:

    How marvellous to have Notman photos of your family! His photos have fascinated me as a photographer and genealogist but, alas, my family are not amongst his photos. There was a similar photographer, named Frank Meadow Sutcliffe, in my family’s home town of Whitby in North Yorkshire in the late 1800s but again, my family do not appear to be amongst his photos. I don’t think his records were nearly as thorough as Notman’s. He took wonderful photos of the port and area as well as portraits of the locals. If you’re interested in seeing his photos you can check them out at:

    • Gail Dever says:

      So far, I have found more than 220 photos in the Notman collection of my ancestors. I have also found about 25 strong suspects, but need to find similar photos in relatives’ photo collections to positively confirm the identities of these people.

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