A.L. HARDY – MYTHS AND TRIVIA (September 13/96)

As I hoped would happen, the column two weeks ago on A.L. Hardy prompted a few readers to give me additional information on the Kentville photographer.

I’ve been told, for example, that like one of Kentville’s earlier police chiefs, Hardy used a bicycle as well as a horse and wagon on his photographic excursions around Kings County. The use of a bicycle seems unlikely since photographic equipment in Hardy’s day was heavy and unwieldy. As well as being interesting the tale about Hardy using a bike, if true, reveals something of his character.

I’ve been told, as well, that Mr. Hardy published one and perhaps two collections of his photographs in book form. I am aware of one collection that Hardy published, but I failed to mention it in the earlier column. For anyone interested in Hardy trivia, around 1902 the photographer privately published a collection he called The Evangeline Land. The collection contained about 100 photographs and most were Kings County scenes.

I have no information about a possible second collection other than that it may exist. However, The Evangeline Land was definitely published and if copies exist today, they would be valuable and of interest to collectors.

Another bit of trivia about Hardy: a reader tells me that so little of Hardy’s work exists today because shortly after his death his collection of prints and photographic plates were destroyed. This is one of those stories that have been passed from generation to generation and is accepted as gospel.

At one time, A.L. Hardy may have been the official photographer for the DAR. A number of tourist pieces promoting Nova Scotia were published by the railroad in Hardy’s day and many of his scenic photographs were used in them – usually without credit to Hardy. Evidence exists indicating Hardy was on the DAR payroll for a time.

A number of Hardy photographs were published in The Advertiser and other Valley newspapers when he was operating out of his Kentville studio. The earlier blossom festival issues of The Advertiser feature work by Hardy, in most cases without giving the photographer a credit line. Hardy’s photographs are believed to be the only pictorial records of Kentville’s centenary in 1926 and the town’s summer carnivals that before 1933 were forerunners of the apple blossom festival.

Of value to collectors and said to be rare are post cards from the 1920s featuring Hardy photographs. One of the most sought after postcards has a Hardy shot of Grand Pre at the turn of the century.

In existence is a splendid photograph of Nova Scotia’s famous bear hunter, Kings County’s David Costley, who was honoured by Queen Victoria for his hunting feats around the turn of the century. In the photograph, the “world champion bear killer” posed on a stump with a live bear in a trap in the foreground. The photograph, which has been published many times since it was taken in 1908, may be one of Hardy’s best known works. The story is that Queen Victoria was so taken by the photograph that she offered to trade Costley one of her pictures for it. Hardy’s photo of Costley is said to be hanging in Buckingham Palace today.

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