On the front page of Toronto Saturday Night of November 5, appear eight excellent photo engravings and a story by Mary McLeod Moore. The engravings are with one exception made from photos by Francis Paget Macklem around whom the story weaves. The photo of Mrs. Macklem here produced is by Mr. Macklem, and the one of himself is by Bertram C. Wickison, F.R.P.S. Through the courtesy of Saturday Night, The Independent is using the two photos. The story follows:
I stopped one day to look at a very beautiful photograph of a pretty woman, outside a door in Brook Street, in the heart of fashionable shopping London, and the lure of the lady took me upstairs to see the studio whence this portrait emanated. There I made a discovery. It was that "Macklem", 16 Brook Street W. is a member of a very well known Canadian family - a fact which Canadians visiting London may be interested to learn. Unknown to London when he opened his studio, Mr. F.P. Macklem, a son of the Rev. Sutherland Macklem, is now one of the artist photographers whose work counts. Modestly he and his charming wife put down their success to the fact that through the kind interest of many Canadian friends opportunities were given them of taking the portraits of important Canadian and English people, and by this means they became known to a wide circle, Lord and Lady Byng being among Mr. Macklem's sitters. Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyil, is one of Mr. Macklem's admirers who never loses her interest in Canada, and not only gave her patronage to his recent exhibition of pictorial photography but has promised to sit for him herself, and has personally recommended him to her friends. "How did you begin?" I asked with true journalistic interest as I sat in Mrs. Macklem's drawing room eating cake made from a Canadian recipe and exchanging suitable reminiscences of cats and dogs with four delightful Macklem children. "Music," said Mrs. Macklem, "was my husband's life work as it was my own, but we more or less drifted into photography, which has long been a hobby of my husband's. As an amateur he did not continue [sic] himself to taking photographs in the ordinary sense, but went deeply into the color processes. During a long illness previous to the war he devoted much time in the south of France to making a camera for taking nature's colors as they exist. The camera had to wait for months to be completed as it was impossible to get the dyes for the screens. On our way to Switzerland we were to have the screens made in Lyons but just as he was about to complete his work, the same idea had come to the mind of another. The little camera which he thought was the first in the field was reproduced in an illustration in the "Scientific American". My husband's health was so much improved we found our way to Brussels thinking of settling there. But after a winter's study with Monsieur D'Absalmont ill health again overtook him and we went back to the glorious air and sunshine of Canada." Then came the war and art was forgotten in the effort to do something that was of use in the struggle. One caught glimpses during the talk about war effort of the earnestness and unselfishness which was so large a part of Canada's offering, when everyone did what he could, regardless of whether the work was congenial of not, if only he could help. When the armistice at long last came, it found Mr. Macklem doing office work at a factory for office furniture. (He was in Grimsby, interested in a peach farm, when the war began and was among those who to their deep regret were considered physically unfit for the strain of actual warfare) but as the necessity for this work was no longer of paramount importance, he decided to take his family to England, and there to make photography his profession. Arriving in London, Mr. Macklem took the kind advice of the Royal Photographic Society and sought out Mr. John H. Gear, Hon. F.R.P.S. as his master. Today master and pupil are fast friends. In July 1920, Mr. Macklem took over the studio of Louis Langfier whose name was well known in London. But though he bought the business and the name he preferred to build up a reputation for himself. His own name is that which is now familiar to those who are interested in the strides made by portrait photography, since the days of the inartistic photographer with his head rest, his scenery, and his "Please look pleasant". Mr. Macklem is one of the few photographers in London who understands the oil pigment process, in which he specializes, as well as indirect color photography. It is a process almost entirely worked by hand in oil paint, and the accompanying photograph taken by Bertram C. Wickison, F.R.P.S., shows Mr. Macklem engaged on the process. I am, alas, not sufficiently skilled in technical terms to describe it properly - I can only admire the results. Mrs. Macklem was Miss Heloise Keating, a daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. E.H. Keating, formerly city engineer of Halifax, N.S., and of Toronto. She devoted many years to the study of music, the harp being her instrument, but one cannot talk to her without realizing that her interest and sympathies are wide and generous, not limited to one talent or one art. It was in Brussels, so well known to many Canadians, that Mrs. Macklem studied as a girl, and in 1906 she took the first prize with distinction, and the Queen's Prize (prix de la Reine) at the Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles. - Mary McLeod Moore in Toronto Saturday Night (Nov. 5, '21).
Mr. and Mrs. Macklem were residents of Grimsby for a number of years, coming here before the war at the instance of Capt. W.W. Kidd, purchasing a fruit farm on Nelles Road, which in May 1919, he sold to D.B. Birrell. During the war both Mr. and Mrs. Macklem were both very active in war relief work and organized several concerts and entertainments for war relief, Mrs. Macklem going so far as to offer one of her cherished harps to that end. In July of 1916 Mr. Macklem bought an interest in the Metal Craft Company with H.D. Walker and took an active personal part in the manufacture of steel hospital furniture and furnishings. He is still president of the company. Mr. Macklem in 1917 had purchased the old Grout property opposite St. Andrew's Anglican Church and spent much money in remodelling it, and on completion of these alterations moved there, leaving the fruit farm in the care of a superintendent, and from there returned to England, to the regret of a large and ever growing circle of friends. Mrs. W.H. Parsons of Grimsby is a sister of Mrs. Macklem, while Hamilton Fleming has the proud distinction of having sat for Mr. Macklem in his London studio.