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 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.
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.