Turning back in time to the beginning of the 20th century witnessed the expansion of photographic studios across the prairies. December 15th marks one hundred and ten years since a photograph studio opened its doors in Reston – The Winnipeg Photo Company. Operated by L. W. Eaton and B.J. Saunders, the studio was initially established in Winnipeg and then settled at Napinka late in 1905. The initial advertisement in the Reston Recorder described the gallery offering “portraits and groups in the most up-to-date styles. The new gallery will be one of the largest and most completely fitted in the country”. The operation quickly gained prominence producing high quality photographs and postcards depicting south western Manitoba and south eastern Saskatchewan towns, landscapes, families and farming operations. In 1909 a third studio in Waskada was added and a fourth location at Oxbow was established shortly thereafter.
Around 1910 the studio in Reston began operating under the banner of Saunders & Eaton and finally Boynton & Eaton was the final transformation in 1911. In October 1913 the Recorder announced that the “winners of the Manitoba Photo Competition has been received at this office, and the name of Boynton & Eaton appears many times among the prize winners. The competition was keen and our local firm are to be congratulated upon their success”. Thousands of images were taken over the years that these studios operated in Reston and throughout the surrounding districts. Their images can be found in museums, archives and personal collections across Canada and offer a glimpse into the early beginnings of our communities. The popularity and affordability of personal cameras that followed resulted in the demise of the studio in Reston, and by the end of 1915 there is no further mention within the newspaper columns that the business was in operation. Leslie Eaton passed away in 1923. His obituary in the Recorder contained the following:
“Mr. Eaton was born at Hespeler, Ont., where he learned his profession of a machinist, later worked for the C.P.R. at Winnipeg, and there, becoming interested in photography launched out into the business, travelling over a large part of Western Manitoba taking views, threshing outfits, etc. About twelve years ago he moved to Reston and opened the photo gallery, and later when automobiles became plentiful, started a garage here, which he operated up to the time of his death”.
Leslie Eaton is buried in the Reston Cemetery. His studio was located next door to the original Reston Recorder office.
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