Richard Trueman photo of Slocan Lake

Slocan photos fetch almost $1,000

Six original prints by West Kootenay’s pre-eminent pioneer photographer sold last week at online auction.

Six original prints by West Kootenay’s pre-eminent pioneer photographer sold last week at online auction for $997 US.

The photos by Richard H. Trueman (1856-1911), were all taken more than a century ago: the SS Slocan as seen from Slocan City; the SS Slocan at the Silverton wharf; looking down Carpenter Creek as a train passes at Alamo Siding; New Denver and Slocan Lake viewed from the Nakusp and Slocan Railway; canoes in Slocan Lake at New Denver with the snow-capped Valhallas soaring in the background; and the power plant at Bonnington Falls with a train passing above.

Most of the photos, which measure 9 3/8″ x 7 1/8″ and are mounted on black scrapbook paper, have been reproduced in various books. The auction fetched 15 bids, including five of $625 or more. It’s the third-highest price paid for Kootenaiana on eBay since 2001. The seller was “near Vancouver.”

Trueman came to BC from Ontario in 1889 and a few years later began visiting the West Kootenay, where he took many classic shots of sternwheelers, railways, and mining camps. He opened tent studio in Sandon and eventually operated branch offices in Sandon, Kaslo, Revelstoke, Grand Forks, and Vancouver.

His best known photo is of a train perched precariously at Payne Bluff on the Kaslo and Slocan Railway.

“His photographs … captured an exceptional tonal range, displaying a blending of artistry and technical quality that is outstanding,” wrote Robert Turner and David Wilkie in The Skyline Limited. “[He] captured the setting, the events, and his subjects with beautiful clarity and composition.”

Last year the Masters Gallery in Vancouver hosted an exhibit of Trueman’s work, featuring two dozen silver gelatin prints found in an old album, including one showing the aftermath of an avalanche at Camborne. They sold for $475 to $875 Cdn each.

A Trueman print of Sandon’s Reco Avenue also sold last July on eBay for $348 US — but proved controversial because the back indicated it had come from the Trail Historical Society’s collection.

This story will appear in the West Kootenay Advertiser on April 4.

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