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Tollman and Canaris Photographs of the Salmon Industry in Washington State, 1893

Fisherman with salmon, ca. 1897
Fisherman with salmon, ca. 1897

These photographs by two little known photographers document the salmon fishing industry on the southern Washington coast and in the lower Columbia River around the year 1897 and offer valuable insights into the history of commercial salmon fishing and the techniques used at the beginning of the 20th century.

John W. Tollman was active in many localities in the West during the period 1889-1909. Working as a traveling photographer with his wife, he frequented many towns in the Pacific Northwest including Portland and Klamath Falls (Ore.); Boise, Idaho; Olympia, Long Beach, Aberdeen and South Bend. While in Long Beach, he established a partnership for a brief time with a local photographer, Frank H. Canaris. "The Tollmans were extraordinarily busy as traveling photographers. They ranged over an area extending from San Francisco to Portland, Oregon. John Tollman worked in partnership with his wife and/or any of a dozen other photographers (often with other husband and wife teams). Seldom did these partnerships last for longer than a few months. Perhaps the most telling comment concerning of Mr. and Mrs. Tollman's state of flux was a cryptic mention in the Redding (Shasta County) Free Press shortly after a six-day stopover in January 1889 - "The photographers have folded their tent and silently stolen away."" (Peter Palmquist in Women in California Photography)

However, little more is known of either Tollman or Canaris. Frank H. Canaris was born in Reine Provene, Prussia in 1854, resided and worked in Portland, Ore. around 1894, and died in Long Beach in 1937.

Possibly the photographs in the Tollman and Canaris Collection were made during a brief sojourn by the Tollmans at their home in Long Beach, Washington during the Fall of 1897. The images, most of them badly faded, depict salmon fishing activities in Skamania and Pacific Counties especially along the Columbia River in the late 1890s. The collection also includes striking images of horse seining, fishermen taring nets, fish wheels, crabbing, and some of the first salmon canning and processing companies in Washington state.

About the Database

The information for Tollman and Canaris Collection was researched and prepared by the UW Libraries Special Collections Division staff in January 2000. Research, writing, and image scanning were done by Kristin Kinsey. Not all the photographs from the collection were included in this database: the database consists of 61 digital images chosen from a group of over 68 photographic prints. The photographs were scanned in grayscale using a Microtek Scanmaker 9600L and saved in .jpg format. Some manipulation of the images was done to present the clearest possible digital image. The scanned images were then linked with descriptive data using the UW CONTENT program. The original collection resides in the UW Libraries Special Collections Division as the Tollman and Canaris Collection no. 293.

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