Through photography, John Harnage Scougall captured life in Kincardine area between 1874 and 1922. The Bruce County Archives is home to over 1,500 of his glass plate negatives featuring life at the harbour and on the lake, homes, local industries and businesses, street scenes, weddings, circuses and parades, sports, and the people of the town. His photographs earned awards at the Western Fair in London, Ontario and Toronto’s Canadian National Exhibition. Upon the death of this man, a friend commented in the local paper, “He never did a shabby thing in his life.” When one views his photographs, the truth of this statement is obvious.
Scougall was born in Ilfacrombe, Devonshire and came to Kincardine in 1874 when he was in his early 20s. He married Charlotte Butler in 1886 and raised four children. Kincardine was his home for 40 years. He began work as town clerk for a short time, leaving the position to work as a banker with J.W. Rapley & Co. Later, around 1895, he was again appointed clerk of the town of Kincardine and remained in that position until his death in 1922. He filled this position in a manner that gained for him the reputation of being one of the best municipal officers in Ontario.
He was a public-spirited citizen and took an active interest in the activities of the town life: secretary-treasurer for the Board of Education, president of the Curling Club, member of the Kincardine Country Club. In his younger years, he was a great cricket player and later an avid bowler, curler and golfer. He was also an amateur photographer with a professional’s eye.
In 1992, over 1,500 of Scougall’s original glass plate negatives were donated to the Bruce County Archives. A professional conservator cleaned several hundreds of these negatives. Archives staff and volunteers have worked to scan and describe the images in a database enabling researchers to view digital copies in the Research Room. Many may also be viewed from home in Online Collections, with more being added monthly. Also included in the BCM&CC Collection are his awards for photography and his camera.
A number of Scougall’s photographs feature ships in Kincardine Harbour. The above images features “Pittsburg” which was originally known as “Manitoba” when it was built in 1871, then “Carmona” from 1888 to 1900. It was rebuilt in Owen Sound in 1900 and named “Pittsburg” at that time. It was destroyed by fire in 1903 at Sandwich, Ontario. (Source: Bowling Green State University’s Historical Collections of the Great Lakes: https://greatlakes.bgsu.edu/item/437709, accessed November 14, 201