Baldwin Street Gallery

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Corporate body

Authorized form of name

Baldwin Street Gallery

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Other form(s) of name

  • Baldwin Street Gallery of Photography

Identifiers for corporate bodies

Description area

Dates of existence



The Baldwin Street Gallery of Photography, also known as Baldwin Street Gallery, was Canada's first independent photography gallery and was founded by John F. Phillips (1945-2010) and Laura Jones (1948-) in June, 1969. Its first location was at 23 Baldwin St. in Toronto, a house Phillips and Jones rented after immigrating to Canada from the United States during the Vietnam War. In 1968, Phillips and Jones had opened their home as an informal daycare and photography school for neighbourhood children, called the Baldwin Street Club. The couple were volunteers of the Company of Young Canadians which funded the educational project alongside the National Film Board. After a year and a half, the club became a gallery for the exhibition of independent photography, though they continued to teach children's photography courses throughout the lifespan of Baldwin Street Gallery. Jones and Phillips ran the Gallery on the first floor of the house, lived on the second floor, and offered a women's only darkroom in the basement in response to the number of men's only darkrooms in Toronto.
Jones and Phillips dedicated much of their own photography towards documenting the everyday lives of those who lived on Baldwin Street, which at the time was comprised largely of immigrants such as themselves. Notably, the couple photographed and were involved with the 1970 Hydro Block Protests during which the community successfully blocked a proposal for an 18 story hydro transformer station to be built on Baldwin Street. The Gallery was an extension of their own socially concerned photography, and was dedicated to supporting and exhibiting the work of documentary photographers that served to further honest expression, rather than to profit or exploit. The Gallery curated photography exhibits of primarily Canadian photographers such as Barbara Astman, Pamela Harris, Jeremy Taylor, and Marian Bancroft though it also featured travelling exhibits from American photographers such as Barbara Morgan and Nikolaus Walter. In addition to being a key space for exhibition, the Gallery also became an essential meeting place for photographers, a center that carried information about the photography field at large, a bookstore and library, and an informal photography school offering educational workshops and courses.
In 1972, after Phillips began teaching photography full-time at York University and left his role as co-director, the Gallery was run co-operatively run by the Women in Photography Co-op, comprised of June Greenberg, Judy Holman, Laura Jones, Pamela Harris, Liz Maunsell, Lynn Murray, Linda Rosenbaum, and Lisa Steele. Frustrated by sexism in the photography industry and the lack of representation of women photographers, the Women in Photography Co-op curated the exhibit "Photographs of Women by Women" for the University of Toronto's Festival of Women. In response to a call-out for photographs by women about women, the Co-op received over 1,500 photographs from women in Canada and the United States of which they selected 230 for the exhibit.
In 1973, with many of the members of the Co-op pursuing other projects, the Gallery was run primarily by Laura Jones with occasional assistance from other members. In 1974, the landlord of 23 Baldwin Street sold the property and served Jones and Phillips an eviction notice which forced the gallery to close. The gallery continued to function in various pop-up locations and in 1978 was situated at 38 Baldwin Street for a year. After the final closure of the Gallery, due to economic pressure, its emphasis shifted towards the creation of photography exhibitions for other galleries and institutions and the sale of photographs for publication.


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Created by Amy Furness, 10 February 2024


  • English



Maintenance notes

  • Clipboard

  • Export

  • EAC

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