About GBIA

Grey-Bruce Image Archives or GBIA, owned by Peter Ciokan & Robert A. Cotton, was started in 2000 when Robert A Cotton and Daryl Phillips got together with Peter Ciokan, owner of Foto Art Camera Shop in Owen Sound, to make two significant collections of historical Owen Sound photographs available to the public. One, the work of John James, an Owen Sound photographer who set up shop in  1905, and the other, the work of Gerry McDonald, an Owen Sound photographer who originally opened Foto Art Camera Shop in the late 1950s. Peter owned these two collections but we have since obtained several other collections of historical significance to Grey/Bruce counties.

It is a private archive of historical photographs of Owen Sound, Ontario and the surrounding counties. Photographic prints are available for sale in a variety of sizes and the images can be purchased for one-time-use in print and electronic publications.

Grey -Bruce Image Archive collection started by cataloguing and digitizing the John James collection which covers the years 1905-1955. There are thousands of glass plates and film negatives in this collection, most of them being family and individual portraits. Daryl Phillips has since left the project but not until he and Robert  approximately 800 of John James’ pictorial scenes of Owen Sound area.

Robert began curating the collection on his own and has digitized and catalogued Gerry McDonald collection – scenes, people and events of Owen Sound from 1955-1974 again, many of them portrait and wedding photographs.

The Fraser collection has been completed while cataloguing and scanning of the Scarrow collection continues.  Mr Fraser was a police photographer in Owen Sound. Not only did he photograph Owen Sound he also had his own collection of historical photographs and information. Mr. Scarrow was an avid amateur photographer from Owen Sound who took a large number of slides.

GBIA has published three books, teaming up with writer Richard J. Thomas and publisher Maryann Thomas of the Gingerpress. Al three books, “A Portrait of Owen Sound: Photographs by J. James”, “Owen Sound: The Community View: Photographs from 1866 to 1957” and “A Photographer’s View of Owen Sound: Photographs by Gerry McDonald from 1955 – 1974” are currently out of print.

The photographs in Owen Sound: A Community View: Photographs from 1855 to 1957 were lent to us by members of the community

The photographs in all three books were digitally restored by G. Wells Taylor.

Each scanned negative and/or print in GBIA’s pictorial collection has been numbered and stored in an archival envelope. These images have been digitized and stored on DVD and hard drives. In this way the original negatives, which are very fragile, will not be used on a continual basis to produce photographic prints. All prints can now be produced and restored where necessary, from the digital image. Research into the subject of each image is being carried out and entered into the database