A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Diane Farris, The Montgomery Café & Hovering Buzzards
Friday, April 11, 2008

In 1999, when photographer Fred Schiffer (one of the best portrait photographers Vancouver has ever had) died I attended his memorial service. I was near Olive Schiffer when the hovering "buzzard" pounced, "How would yo like to keep the memory of your husband's excellence alive? If you donate all his photographs to our archives that will happen." It was at that moment that I was hit by an internal fury and a determination that no buzzard shall alight on Rosemary should I make my earthly exit before she does.

A couple of weeks ago I received a call from gallery owner Diane Farris. She wanted to know who could help her obtain information about the Montgomery Café that used to be on Pender very close to the Niagara Hotel. While she was chatting with me I went down to my basement files (10 large metal filing cabinets with four drawers each) and under M I extracted my Montgomery Café file. Under F I removed the Diane Farris folder. I told Farris that John Mackie at the Vancouver Sun was her best bet and she rung off. But not before we mutually commented on the fact that I am exactly one day older than she is as I was born on August 31 while her birthday is on September 1.

My photograph of the Montgomery Café is nothing to rave about but it does show that the place was known for the art on the walls, the painted tables, the cow hide nooks and the excellent shakes. My picture of Farris I took in her original gallery on Water Street and the man behind her is her former husband.

It occurs to me that when I take my leave (as of now my files have 37 year's worth of stuff related to Vancouver) my files will be deemed valuable by many. It will be too late for me to be rich and famous. But I do have a little ace up my sleeve. I have made a will in which I stipulate to my wife and daughters that my photographic life's work:

1. Shall be sold.
2. Not donated to any archive.

And if 1 is not met the insructions are:

3. Burn.

From somewhere I know Fred is smiling and he approves. As for keeping my memory alive I will take the cue from my friend Abraham Rogatnick, "After me, nothing."


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