Wallace Robinson MacAskill (1887-1956) was one of Nova Scotia’s most famous marine photographers. (We have seen conflicting birth dates ranging from 1887-1890). Best known for his Nova Scotia seascape and sailing vessel scenes, his works are becoming increasing collectible both in Canada and the United States.
Born in St. Peters, Cape Breton County in Nova Scotia, MacAskill graduated from the Wade School of Photography in New York in 1907. He opened his first photographic studio in St. Peters, and then in Glace Bay, before moving to Halifax in 1915. In Halifax MacAskill worked for military photographer W.G. MacLaughlan, and between 1916-19 he worked as a printer at the Elite Studios in Halifax. Between 1920-29 MacAskill worked as a photographic printer for the Commercial Photo Service.
In 1926 MacAskill married Elva Abriel, another professional photographer, and he opened another studio in Halifax around this time. His pictures were used extensively by the Nova Scotia government, and many MacAskill pictures also appeared in two books that he published including Out of Halifax (1937) and Lure of the Sea (1951). Probably MacAskill’s most famous picture was the famous schooner “Bluenose“, which appeared as a postage stamp in 1929, and which appeared in various books and which proved to be one of his best-selling art photographs.
Wallace R. MacAskill died in Halifax on January 25, 1956. In 1964 Mrs. MacAskill sold the contents of MacAskill’s studio, including his negatives, to Maurice Crosby, another Halifax photographer. In 1970 Crosby sold them to the Maritime Supplies & Exchange Ltd. And in 1984, National Art Ltd. was given exclusive rights to produce new hand-colored pictures using MacAskill’s original negatives. These pictures were still hand colored in oils, but are not as highly prized by collectors as MacAskill’s earliest and original works. This agreement expired in 1986 and in 1987 MacAskill’s negatives were donated to the Public Archives of Nova Scotia where they remain today.
Just a few of the Wallace MacAskill titles we have seen include:
• Cape Le Rounde, C.B.
• Drying Sails
• My Ship o’ Dreams
• Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse
• Rockbound Coast, Nova Scotia
• Saga of the Sea
• Schooners in Early Morning Mist
• Sunset, Nova Scotia Coast