Series consists of the following sub-series: 1. Personal papers, 1918- 1979; 2. Correspondence, 1862-1979; 3. Financial, legal and business papers, 1901-1979; 4. Professional activities and interests, 1906-1980; 5. Topical files, 1881- 1978; 6. Photographs, ca.1920-1979; 7. Postcard albums, 1903- 1…
I.A. Catharine Robb Whyte papers and photographs series
M36 / S37 / V683 / I / A
1906 - 1980
20.5 m of textual records (and ca.200 oversize items). -- ca.12,300 photographs (ca.5000 prints, ca.4000 negatives, ca.3300 transparencies, 3 albums of ca.1000 prints, 6 motion pictures).
History / Biographical
Catharine Robb Whyte, 1906-1979, was an artist, outdoor enthusiast, traveller, philanthropist and cultural worker at Banff, Alberta. Born in Concord, Massachusetts, Catharine Robb grew up amongst the wealth and creativity of the Robb and Morse families. Following schooling in Concord and Providence Rhode Island, she studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston from 1925 until 1929. There she met Peter Whyte, a fellow art student from Banff, Alberta and they married in 1930.
The Whytes pursued a life of painting, photography, hiking, skiing and travelling. Their log home and studio in Banff became a focal point for their artist friends, Stoney Nakoda First Nations and local pioneers. Catharine shared Pete's involvement in skiing and hiking organizations such as the Ski Club of the Canadian Rockies and the Skyline Trail Hikers of the Canadian Rockies. From 1932 until 1934, she and Pete managed Skoki Lodge. During the Second World War, Catharine continued to paint, maintain her home and when possible, accompany Pete to his various military postings.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s the Whytes formulated plans for a foundation to preserve the art and history of the Canadian Rockies. Plans for a building to house an archives, public library and gallery were in preparation when Pete died in 1966. Catharine immersed herself in the development of the Peter Whyte Foundation (now the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies), in the cultural community, painting, outdoor activity, travel and work with the Stoney Nakoda First Nation. Catharine became a more active photographer, recording her travels and outdoor pursuits on transparency film and later on Kodacolor negative film. Catharine continued to use her old Leica rangefinder camera and, in 1974, acquired a Leica M5 with an integrated light meter.
Catharine Whyte served in an official capacity with numerous cultural and charitable organizations. Among her official duties, Catharine served as a Governor, Banff Centre Council; Member, Board of Governors, Glenbow-Alberta Institute; President, Peter Whyte Foundation; Member, Minister's Advisory Committee on Native Education; and Member, By-law Committee, Stoney Development Society. She was a patron to individuals studying art and music and supported the following causes: Stoney Nakoda First Nation Handicrafts, Stoney Administration Building, Banff Recreational Centre, Margaret Greenham Theatre, cancer research, and the Catharine Whyte Multicultural Centre in Cold Lake, Alberta.
Despite her modesty and often anonymous patronage of causes, Catharine was recognized with the following awards and honours: Honorary Doctorate, University of Calgary, 1969; Outstanding Citizen of the Year, Banff Kiwanis Club, 1969; Honorary Chief, Stoney Nakoda First Nation, 1973; Alberta Achievement Award, Province of Alberta, 1975; Award of Merit, Historical Society of Alberta, 1978; and the Order of Canada, 1978.
Scope & Content
Series consists of the following sub-series: 1. Personal papers, 1918- 1979; 2. Correspondence, 1862-1979; 3. Financial, legal and business papers, 1901-1979; 4. Professional activities and interests, 1906-1980; 5. Topical files, 1881- 1978; 6. Photographs, ca.1920-1979; 7. Postcard albums, 1903- 1924. Includes extensive diaries and correspondence between Catharine Robb Whyte and her mother, family and friends. Of particular interest are Whyte's outgoing letters. Other papers arise out of her business and philanthropic activities, interest and activity in art, winter sports, recreation, museums, cultural organizations, photography, environmental issues and Stoney Nakoda First Nation.
Photographic material was produced and collected by Catharine Robb Whyte prior to 1930 and after Peter Whyte's death in 1966. Included are prints, albums and negatives, ca.1924-1930, pertaining to family trips, school activities, travels, home, friends and family. The largest series consist of colour prints and negatives (ca.7200 items) and colour transparencies (3319 items) pertaining to family and friends, mountain trips, scenics and world travels, 1966-1979. Remaining material include prints, motion pictures and video recording collected by Catharine Whyte; mainly friends, family, personal and Banff events, ca.1920-1979.
Access to photographs requires permission in advance from the Head Archivist.
Sub-series-level outline is available. Inventory is available in printed form and through this database. Description of photographs is at sub-series level only. Printed inventory provides more description than computer database for photographs.
Consitutes Sous-fonds I, Series A of Peter and Catharine Whyte fonds. Other photographs by Catharine Whyte are found in Sous-fonds I, Series C.
Title based on material
Catharine Robb Whyte Photographs - Forms part of Sous-fonds I, Series A of the Peter and Catharine Whyte fonds.
The earliest photographs directly attributable to Catharine Robb were taken on the family trip to Europe in 1924. Russell Robb produced three meticulous albums from this trip, two utilizing his own photographs and one composed of Catharine's. (A photo taken at Versailles shows Catharine operating a folding camera which produced the 6 x 10.5 cm. images for her travel album). A number of photographs and albums from the mid 1920s are attributable to Catharine -- photographs depicting friends and events at Mary C. Wheeler School and sailing trips at Seal Harbor, Maine -- but she does not appear to have been a prolific photographer prior to her marriage to Peter Whyte in 1930.
Following Peter Whyte's death in 1966, Catharine became a very active photographer. She took up downhill skiing again and began to travel extensively in Canada and abroad, recording most of these activities on transparency film. In the 1970s, she began exposing Kodacolor negative film. She found that prints were more easily displayed to friends and relatives than were slides, so she favoured colour prints for the remainder of her life. She utilized slide film on only a few extended trips after the mid 1970s.
Though friends and relatives tried to convince her that a single lens reflex camera system would be more convenient and versatile than her old Rangefinder camera, Catharine remained devoted to her old Leica, and in 1974 she paired it with a Leica M5 -- the first Leica with an integrated light meter. She used this camera until her death.