The museum has an extensive collection of historical photographs and negatives taken by a number of photographers. In an effort to make these available to a wider audience, a dedicated volunteer has undertaken the project of digitizing selected images and uploading them to the website. He has started with the work of A.L. Hardy, the best known local photographer, whose photographs provide us with fascinating glimpses of our past.
Part of our A.L. Hardy collection can be viewed at
A.L Hardy Biography
Amos Lawson Hardy was born in Allendale, Shelburne County, Nova Scotia in 1860, one of seven children. Educated in a one-room schoolhouse, he first worked as a cooper then later became a merchant and hotel operator. He married Jennie Smith from the same community in 1891. The hotel he operated burned and he was forced to declare bankruptcy in 1892.
Lawson's younger brother, Irad, graduated from Business College that same year and purchased a property in Kentville for the purpose of opening a photographic business. In advertisements of the day, Irad was shown as the proprietor and A. L. as the photographer. This changed in the fall of that year when Irad left Kentville, and A. L. became sole owner of the business.
Hardy had a devotion to his craft that resulted in not only making a technically superb print but in capturing the true essence of community activity at the time. Testimony to Hardy's esteem came when in 1900 he along with eminent photographers Notman of Montreal and Rowley of Toronto were asked to prepare illustrations of "Canada's Scenic Splendours" for "The Canadian Magazine." It is believed Hardy's work was so highly regarded by Queen Victoria she traded one of her prized prints for one of his. In those days, approval by the Queen was considered the highest mark of professional achievement.
Hardy was attempting to develop business in the New England states at a time when the Dominion Atlantic Railway and the government were really promoting tourist travel from the U. S. to Nova Scotia. Hardy's work became recognized and his photographs were not only in publications of his own such as "The Evangeline Land", 1902, but also in railway promotional literature, and were sought after from Yarmouth to Halifax. By 1920 his business was so successful, he had to start Christmas sittings early in the fall.
In the years before his death in 1935, Hardy did less travel and concentrated more on studio work including portraiture, hand tinting and promoting his Evangeline Land prints. He had a dedication to his trade that often saw him working late at night in the studio. When he did not come home at his usual time one evening, his wife asked a friend to check on him. A. L. Hardy was found in a chair in his office paralyzed by a stroke. He died later that night at home, age 75.
The Halifax Daily Star on October 2, 1935 described Hardy as "one of the outstanding photographers of the province." The house where he and his wife lived, 25 Webster Court, is still standing today as if in testimony to the photographic legacy Hardy left behind. Coincidently, the Kings County Museum, which houses the largest collection of Hardy's prints outside of the Public Archives of Canada in Ottawa, is only a block away at the corner of Webster Street and Cornwallis.
© Larry Keddy 2003