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MATHER, Edith H.

Hampstead, Quebec, 1925
Montreal, Quebec, 2017
Biography synopsis
After spending her childhood in Hampstead, Edith Mather moved to Montreal along with her first husband, and completed a Bachelor of Science at McGill University in 1946. The district that Mather lived in at the time was characterized by its whimsical Victorian architecture which would have an impact on her. In 1960, Mather divorced and remarried Bryan McCarthy, a well-known Montreal poet, four years later. They moved to Greene Avenue in Westmount, and soon after the birth of her son, she took up photography which she would pursue passionately. The 1960s were a time of intense urban renewal in Montreal, resulting in a city-wide program of mass-demolition. Mather saw in this destruction an irreversible loss of the architecture she'd learned to love. Armed with a desire to document the changing cityscape, Mather would pack a pram with her son, her Yashica and food for the day. The photographs from these excursions show an older face of the city decorated with stone carving, intricate ironwork, wooden details, and of course, spiral staircases. Mather also took several shots of demolition sites. Among the pictures of architecture can be found a few intriguing portraits, mainly of her son, but also of Atwater Market vendors, of firefighters and even some self-portraits. Her efforts resulted in over 4000 prints, some of which were published in "Touches of Fantasy on Montreal Streets." Later in life, Mather completed a diploma in Library Studies and worked as a librarian for Concordia University until she retired at the age of eighty-five. She continued the pursuit of photography although her lens was later focused on a different subject: butterflies.
Media used
McGill University, ? - 1946
Concordia University, Montreal, ? - 1985
University of Montreal, ? - 1965
File & Archive locations
McCord Museum Archives, QC
Canadian Women Artists History Initiative Documentation Centre, QC
Musée des pompiers de Montréal, QC

Writings about
Blanchfield, Cecelia. "Edith's Eye 'rebuilds' our Castles in the Air" Gazette (Montreal) 30 Aug. 1977: 26
Roussan, Jacques de. "Les façades de Montréal" Vie des Arts 22.89 (1977-78): 88-93
Southcott, Tanya. [Re]Claiming Montreal's Memory: Demolition and the Photography of Edith Mather Montreal: McGill University, 2013

Writings by
Mather, Edith and Leonard Russo et al.. Stop the Highway: an anthology of 4 Montreal Poets: Ray Fraser, Clifford Gaston, Bob Higgins and Bryan McCarthy Westmount, Quebec: 1972
Mather, Edith and René Chicoine. Les rues de Montréal: façade et fantaisie = Touches of Fantasy: on Montreal Streets Montreal: Tundra Books, 1977

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