George Kenneth Bell, M.P.A. 1914-2000

The following is courtesy Library & Archives Canada;

Ken Bell, photographer, was born in Toronto, Ont. He began his career in 1931 at Lane Studios in Toronto, photographing furniture for clients in manufacturing towns like Stratford and Hanover. In 1935, he joined the Charles G. Milne Studio, beginning as a photographer and working his way up to the position of studio director. Later he transferred to the firm of Pringle and Booth as studio director and gained experience in all aspects of commercial photography.

During the Second World War, Bell served as an official photographer with the Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit. From the D-Day landings in Normandy in 1944 to the occupation of Germany in 1945, he covered the entire campaign of the First Canadian Army in Northwest Europe.

Bell resumed his career in commercial photography during 1946, entering into partnership with Gordon Rice under the name of Rice and Bell and concentrating on fashion photography and photojournalism. One of his major clients, 'Maclean's' magazine, sent him back to Europe in 1949 to rephotograph the same places he had covered during the war. In the same year, he established Ken Bell Photography Limited, and in 1950 became the official photographer of the National Ballet of Canada.

Bell was one of the founders and later president of the Commercial and Press Photographers' Association of Canada (CAPPAC), the forerunner of the Professional Photographers of Canada Incorporated (PPOC). The latter association has conferred a number of awards on Bell, twice naming him Photographer of the Year and awarding him one of the first four titles of Master of Photographic Arts to be granted to distinguished Canadian photographers. For several years, Bell taught photography at the Ontario College of Art in Toronto. He also maintained an active interest in military affairs, serving from 1950 to 1965 with the Royal Regiment of Canada and attaining the rank of lieutenant-colonel as its commanding officer.

Ken Bell's first book was 'Curtain call' (1949); his photographs have also illustrated 'Not in vain' (1973), 'Collecting Canada's past' (1974), 'A Man and his mission' [Cardinal L├ęger in Africa] (1976), 'Oil lamps: The Kerosene era in North America' (1976), 'The National Ballet of Canada: A Celebration' (1978), '100 years: The Royal Canadian Regiment 1883-1983' (1983), 'The Mother kitchen' (1983), 'The Way we were' (1988), and 'Royal Canadian Military Institute: 100 years 1890-1990' (1990).

Works located in : National Archives of Canada.The National Archives of Canada hold Ken Bell's entire fonds.

Exhibition(s): 1979, PPOC National Print Show, Toronto (group). 1971, Ken Bell: 40 Years of Photography 1931-1971, PAC, Ottawa (individual). 1981, Ken Bell, Fifty Years of Photography, PAC, Ottawa (individual).

PHOTO CREDIT: George Hunter, R.C. A.

Links to Ken Bell online:

Ken Bell