Mendel Art Gallery Exhibition

The Saskatoon Camera Club Celebrates 75 Years  from June 22 to September 7, 2012 with an opening reception on Friday, June 22 at 8 p.m.

For 75 years, the Saskatoon Camera Club has been a valuable resource for people interested in photography. Its diverse membership includes teens and seniors, beginners and highly experienced photographers. The club has developed along with the art community and the city itself.

The inaugural meeting of the Camera Club was held at the Board of Trade office in 1936. The 31 founding members set the annual membership fee at $1. (The current fee is $40 per year.) By 1938, the club had 72 members. The venue shifted to Nutana Collegiate for six years, then members rented space with a darkroom in the Ross Block on Third Avenue.

In 1944, the Camera Club joined with the Saskatoon Art Association and the Archeology Association to form the Saskatoon Art Centre. This new collective was established on the second floor of the Standard Trust Building. From 1949-1961, it operated in the basement arcade of the King George Hotel.

In 1961, the Art Centre was obliged to vacate the King George Hotel. The centre moved to the Hunt Building, and the Camera Club moved to the U of S Medical Building, then to the J.S. Wood branch of the Saskatoon Public Library.

The Camera Club reunited with the Saskatoon Art Centre in 1963, in temporary quarters in the Travellers Block Annex (now home to The GALLERY/ art placement.) In 1964, the club moved into the Art Centre’s successor, the newly completed Mendel Art Gallery. As a charter member of the Art Centre, the Camera Club was given space in the new building to accommodate two fully equipped darkrooms.

This arrangement continued until 1986, when the Mendel reclaimed the darkroom space. The Camera Club continued to hold weekly meetings in the Mendel auditorium until fall, 2011. With its own programs expanding, the Mendel was unable to accommodate the large number of Camera Club members. The club’s regular Tuesday night meetings were moved to Mayfair United Church.

Throughout the club’s history, its members have placed a high priority on sharing information and holding competitions. By the 1940s, members focused on producing, judging and displaying black and white prints. They held eight competitions a year, frequently displayed their works, and participated in print exchanges with clubs elsewhere. Members also entered competitions across the country.

In the 1950s, there was growing interest in colour slides. The club offered basic instruction classes, study groups and field trips.

This 75th anniversary exhibition includes artifacts—vintage cameras, trophies, and issues of the Camera Club’s newsletter, The Viewfinder—as well as images representing all eras of the club’s history. These different phases reflect developments in photography, from historical black and white prints, colour prints and slides, to the introduction and rapid popularization of digital images. The exhibition includes nature images, landscapes, portraits, and more.

As a sign of the times, the number of digital submissions entered in Club clinics now far exceeds the combined total of the film and digital print entries. The club has also operated a website,, since 2001.

For many years, the Club designated a “Print of the Year,” and donated it to the permanent collection of the Mendel Art Gallery. This exhibition includes six images from that collection of 46 award-winning photographs.