Fonds LA.SC174 - Baldwin Street Gallery fonds

Identity area

Reference code



Baldwin Street Gallery fonds


  • 1968-2018 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

60 cm of textual records
11 posters

Context area

Name of creator


Administrative history

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.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Laura Jones is a photographer, writer and activist based for much of her career in Toronto.

Archival history

The materials now constituting the Baldwin Street Gallery fonds were transferred directly from Laura Jones to the Art Gallery of Ontario in November 2021.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

AGO Credit Line: Gift of Laura Jones, 2023

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Fonds consists of material documenting the administrative and exhibition functions of Baldwin Street Gallery, including correspondence, the records of gallery director Laura Jones, grant applications, research files, press, and the gallery's published material such as newsletters, exhibition invitations, posters, and programmes.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


Further accruals are expected.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Access to file LA.SC174.S3.f8, Women's Statements, will require a research agreement until 2045. Otherwise open. Access to Special Collections is by appointment only. Please contact the reference desk for more information.

Conditions governing reproduction

Various copyright holders. It is the researcher’s responsibility to obtain permission to publish any part of the fonds.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

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Dates of creation revision deletion

Originally prepared 2022; uploaded 10 February 2024


  • English



Archivist's note

Prepared by Tam Rayan, uploaded and adapted by Amy Furness

Accession area

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