Felix Morin, Bananas, Trinidad, ca 1890, from the Montgomery Collection of Caribbean Photographs. Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Toronto’s Black and Caribbean Communities Help Art Gallery of Ontario Acquire 3,500 Photographs

The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) has acquired the Montgomery Collection of Caribbean Photographs, comprising more than 3,500 historical images from thirty-four countries, including Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad, with the help of Toronto’s black and Caribbean communities. Twenty-seven donors came together to raise $300,000 for the purchase.

Among the works, which date from 1840 to 1940, are prints, postcards, daguerreotypes, lantern slides, albums, and stereographs that capture the changing economies, environments, and cities that emerged following the abolition of slavery in the Caribbean. Selections from the collection will be presented in an exhibition at the museum that is slated to open in 2021.

“There has been a significant Caribbean presence in Canada—specifically Toronto—since the early twentieth century,” said Stephan Jost, director and CEO of the AGO. “These works offer rich personal connections for audiences from these communities and meaningful opportunities for scholars worldwide. We are incredibly grateful to our community for coming together in support of this acquisition.”

Part of this collection was assembled by filmmaker and photography collector Patrick Montgomery and generously gifted by him to the gallery. A member of the board of trustees of the George Eastman Museum, Montgomery has been amassing this collection for more than a decade.