Exploring the Rich Legacy of Blacks Photography


Blacks Photography holds a significant place in the history of Canadian photography. Founded in 1930 by Farley Edward Mowat and Raymond McConnell in Toronto, Blacks quickly became a household name, synonymous with quality photography products and services. Over the decades, it evolved from a small photographic supply shop to a national chain with over 185 stores across Canada at its peak.


This article delves into the rich legacy of Blacks Photography, tracing its journey through time and exploring its impact on Canadian culture and photography enthusiasts.Blacks Photography began its humble journey in the heart of Toronto, Ontario, when Farley Edward Mowat and Raymond McConnell opened their first store on Queen Street West in 1930. Initially named “L.B. Mowat & Company,” the store primarily sold photographic equipment and supplies to amateur and professional photographers alike. With a commitment to quality products and exceptional customer service, the business flourished, and in 1948, the name was changed to “Blacks Photography.”

Expansion and Innovation:

As photography grew in popularity across Canada. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the company expanded its operations, opening new stores in various cities and towns across the country. Blacks became known not only for its wide selection of cameras, film, and accessories but also for its innovative approach to photo processing and printing.

One of the key milestones in Blacks’ history was the introduction of one-hour photo processing in the 1970s. This groundbreaking service revolutionized the industry, allowing customers to receive their prints in a fraction of the time previously required. With the advent of digital photography in the late 20th century, Blacks Photography adapted once again, offering digital photo printing services alongside traditional film processing.

Cultural Impact:

Beyond its commercial success,  For generations of Canadians, a trip to Blacks was a cherished ritual, whether to purchase a new camera, have family portraits taken, or simply to browse the latest photography equipment. The company’s iconic yellow and black logo became a familiar sight in shopping malls and downtown streets across the country.

Blacks also supported emerging photographers and artists, hosting exhibitions and events to showcase local talent. Through initiatives like the “Blacks Emerging Artist Award,” the company provided a platform for aspiring photographers to gain recognition and exposure for their work.

Challenges and Changes:

Despite its longstanding success,  The rise of digital photography and online retailing presented new competitive pressures, leading to the closure of several stores and a restructuring of the business. In 2015, Blacks Photography announced the closure of all its physical locations, marking the end of an era for the iconic brand.

However, the spirit of Blacks Photography lives on through its online presence and the memories of countless Canadians who grew up with the brand. In 2016, the rights to the Photography brand were acquired by Telus, a Canadian telecommunications company, which relaunched the brand as an online photo printing service.

Today and Beyond:

In its digital incarnation, allowing customers to preserve and share their memories in print. While the retail landscape may have evolved since the days of its storefronts, the legacy of Blacks Photography endures, reminding us of the power of photography to capture moments and create lasting connections.


Blacks Photography holds a special place in the hearts of Canadians, representing not only a trusted source for photography products and services but also a cherished part of our cultural heritage. From its humble beginnings in a small Toronto shop to its nationwide presence and eventual transition to online retailing, Blacks Photography has remained a symbol of quality, innovation, and creativity in the world of photography. As we continue to embrace new technologies and ways of capturing images, the legacy of Blacks Photography serves as a reminder of the enduring power of the photograph to inspire, evoke memories, and tell our stories for generations to come.