Manitoba Photographers: Charles Ellis (1844-1921)
Born at Islington, England on 16 June 1844, son of Charles and Ann Ellis, in 1868 he immigrated to Canada and settled in Ontario. He worked as a photographer at Orillia in the early 1870s. On 6 April 1876, he married Isabella MacNab (c1856-1944) at Orillia and they eventually had six children: Annie Ellis (1877-?), Jean Ellis, Jessie Ellis (1882-1947), Donald Ellis (1884-1976), Charles Ellis (1886-1966), and Isabel Ellis. He travelled to Manitoba in July 1880, as a member of a land survey party, taking photographs along the route. On arrival at Winnipeg, he may have worked for a time with Harry Bowles. In the 1980s, a collection of his photographs taken during the late 1870s and early 1880s at Upper Fort Garry and other sites around Winnipeg were discovered in the attic of his former residence (and popularized by musician-turned-historian Bruce Decker). Little is known of his photographic work after the 1880s and he appears to have mostly supported his family working as a draftsman. He died at Winnipeg on 19 September 1921 and was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery.
Ontario marriage registration, Ancestry.
1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.
Birth and death registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
Obituary, Winnipeg Tribune, 20 September 1921, page 6.
Obituary [Isabella Ellis], Winnipeg Tribune, 4 March 1944, page 23.
“Mrs. C. Ellis, pioneer, dies,” Winnipeg Tribune, 6 March 1944, page 3.
“Retired teacher, Miss J. Ellis, dies,” Winnipeg Free Press, 15 February 1947, page 26.
Obituary [Charles Ellis], Winnipeg Free Press, 5 January 1966, page 40.
Obituary [Donald Ellis], Winnipeg Free Press, 14 February 1976, page 48.
Obituary [Isabel Ellis], Winnipeg Free Press, 13 April 1985, page 38.
“Charles Ellis: Photographer and Canadian myth maker, The Orillia years, 1872-1880” by Leon T. Pinuita, Photographica Canadiana, volume 41, number 2, 2015, pages 10-18.
We thank Robert Lansdale for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 8 September 2015