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Part Of
Gilbert Studios fonds
Fonds 37
Archival Descriptions
Part Of
Gilbert Studios fonds
Material Format
graphic material
[ca. 1895]-1979
Physical Description
690 photographs : b&w and col. negatives ; 26 x 21 cm or smaller
Admin History/Bio
Gilbert Studios was originally called Elite Studios and was located at 513 Queen Street West, Toronto. The owner, Nathan Gittelmacher, immigrated to Toronto from Kiev, Ukraine after the First World War. He first worked as a photographer at Empire Studios, and then in 1922, opened up his own studio, Elite Studios, at 513 Queen Street West, which serviced a largely Jewish clientele, photographing weddings, bar mitzvahs, as well as Jewish community events. The studio moved to 615 Queen St. West in July 1923
.During the 1940s, the family changed its name to Gilbert and subsequently altered the name of the business to Gilbert Studios. His son, Al Gilbert, was born in 1922, and started working in the family business in 1941, when he was 19 years of age. He eventually assumed control of it after his father retired. He moved the studio to Eglinton Avenue and then later to Davenport Road, its current location. Since that time he has been the only or principal photographer for the studio.
Early on in his career, Al made a name for himself as a portrait photographer. At that time, he mostly catered to the Jewish community, photographing brides, rabbis, businessmen and communal events and celebrations. Over the years, he branched out and photographed prominent individuals from the Italian community of Toronto, as well as well as many of the mayors and councilmen and women from Toronto, due to his multi-year contract with the city. In addition, he has photographed some of the most important people of our time – from Canada and abroad – including artists, politicians, scientists, philanthropists, athletes, and religious figures.
Over the years, Al has won many competitions, awards and accolades. He is a three-time recipient of the prestigious Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC) photographer of the year award. He has also been named a Fellow of the photographic societies in Canada, Britain and the United States. Al was also the first recipient of the Yousuf Karsh award. In 1990, he was recognized for his contribution to the nation as an artist with the Order of Canada award. Finally, in 2007, he was awarded the Professional Photographers of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Gilbert Studios is still in business today.
Scope and Content
Fonds consists of images taken by Nathan and Al Gilbert, and in addition, there are some images the Gilbert family acquired, from the early 1900s, that have historical significance to the Toronto Jewish community.
Although the Gilberts photographed a variety of people and organizations, the individuals and groups included in this fonds are either Jewish in origin or connected to the Jewish community.
The fonds has been arranged into nine series: Negev dinners; B'nai B'rith Sportsmen Lodge dinners; Zionist Centre cornerstone ceremony; Al Gilbert portraits; Nathan Gilbert portraits; weddings; Jewish Community events; Jewish clubs businsesses and organizations; and Miscellaneous collection.
Positive digital scanned images are available for all of the described negatives.
Name Access
Gilbert, Nathan
Elite Studios (Toronto, Ont.)
Physical Condition
Some negatives are suffering from vinegar syndrome.
Related Material
See also the Albert Gilbert fonds (Reference # R9086-0-X-E) at Library and Archives Canada
Gilbert Studios (Toronto, Ont.)
Accession Number
Archival Descriptions

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