by Steven C. Brisson
Steven Brisson, chief curator for Mackinac State Historic Parks, has hand selected over 250 of Gardiner’s images for this book. Brisson has created an elegant, visually striking compilation of turn of the century images of Mackinac. Because the images in the collection are comprised of large format negatives (most are 5×7 or 8×10) they provide spectacularly detailed prints.
Brisson introduces readers to Gardiner, a Canadian who took up photography at an early age … traces the young man’s migration from Toronto, to Detroit, and finally to Mackinac Island where he established a studio in 1896. The services offered by Gardiner and his competition at the burgeoning tourist destination reflect the interests and lifestyles of America at the beginning of the 20th century, as well as the changes wrought by advances in photographic technology. The rise of the personal camera and the postcard created new sales opportunities for photographers with studios, while they continued to produce stereographic images, cabinet cards, and hand-tinted prints. Gardiner in particular pursued commercial work while on Mackinac Island, shooting for cruise lines, businesses, and taking many portraits of island residents, workers and visitors.
Brisson has selected carefully from this wide variety of subject matter and organized the images into such Mackinac-esque sections as Cottages, Hotels, Woods, Water and Faces of Mackinac. Picturesque Mackinac will entertain Mackinac enthusiasts with century-old slices of island life, like cattle grazing beneath Fort Mackinac in what would later become Marquette Park, cruise ships like the City of Mackinac pulling into dock, and Mrs. Ford’s Restaurant on the site of today’s Chippewa Hotel.