1900-2006. – 25m of textual records. – 77 boxes of B&W photographs. – 188 boxes of colour photographs. – 13 boxes of negatives. – 118 boxes of slides.
Canadian Kodak Ltd., which became Kodak Canada Inc. in 1979, manufactured photographic films, papers and equipment for over a century in Toronto, Ontario. The Canadian branch of the already successful Rochester-based Eastman Kodak Company officially opened its doors in 1900 at 41 Colborne Street under the direction of John G. Palmer, the same year that Eastman introduced the Brownie camera model. Like the Brownie, Canadian Kodak Ltd. was an immediate success. The company expanded and moved to 588 King Street West in 1908, but already plans were underway for an expansive complex. In 1912, Canadian Kodak purchased 25 acres of farmland near Weston Road and Eglinton Avenue to build a major manufacturing facility known as “Kodak Heights.” By 1925, there were over 900 employees working in seven buildings at Kodak Heights. Over the years, the company earned a reputation for having a cooperative and supportive relationship with its employees, adopting many of the successful practices in place at Eastman Kodak in Rochester, New York. In 1940, an Employee’s Building was constructed at Kodak Heights to accommodate the activities of the flourishing Recreation Club, the Department Managers’ Club, and of course, the Kodak Heights Camera Club.
During the 1990s, the rise of digital media began to have a serious impact on manufacturing programs at Kodak facilities around the world, causing the Eastman Kodak Company to reduce its production of traditional print photography by one third globally. The manufacture of digital products did not require the extensive facilities and large numbers of employees required for the sensitive chemistry of traditional photographic materials. On December 9, 2004, Kodak Canada Inc. informed its employees that manufacturing operations in traditional film products would cease entirely at Kodak Heights. The company’s facility faced the same fate as many of its foreign counterparts in England, Australia and France, being completely abandoned and demolished shortly after closure in 2005. Kodak Canada Inc. still maintains a sales and support office in downtown Toronto, while camera manufacture has returned to Rochester.
In the spring of 2005 many of Kodak Canada’s corporate records were donated to the Ryerson University Library to form the core collection of the library’s new Special Collections department. Along with the photo files, trade circulars and record books that helped inform the business operations at Kodak Heights, Ryerson also received the company’s Camera Collection and the contents of the Kodak Heritage Collection Museum. The museum was established in 1999 in anticipation of the company’s centennial but was sadly short-lived, closing its doors along with the manufacturing facilities.
The Kodak Collection at Ryerson holds a combination of records from the corporate activities at Kodak and the historical collection belonging to the Heritage Museum. The collection consists of photographs, negatives, advertising records, magazines, pamphlets, daily record books, recipe books, cameras and other photographic equipment produced by Kodak Canada Inc. and other Kodak manufacturing facilities around the world. It includes a small selection of financial records, blueprints for Kodak facilities in Canada, and other corporate ephemera as well as photographs of events, buildings and individual employees that illustrate the social life of the company.
Finding aids are available.