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FEATURE

Labour of Love

Tom Bochsler has spent a career photographing many of Canada’s most iconic manufacturers. In a new compilation of his achievements, he showcases his most memorable images, from moving mountains at the Welland Canal to Hamilton visits by Hollywood A-listers
PHOTOGRAPHY BY TOM BOCHSLER

For most of his life, friends had suggested to professional photographer Tom Bochsler that he compile his photos into a book. Ten years ago, he began rummaging through his vast collection in selecting his favourite images from a life spent documenting both local and international industry, much of which was amassed through corporate yearbook shoots. The 272 photos that make up The Art of Industry, the newly published compilation that dates from 1950 to 2003, only “scratch the surface,” says Bochsler, who has recently donated nearly a half-million images to the Hamilton Public Library—the largest image donation in the library’s history. Illuminating what he terms a “world most people never get to see,” the collection ranges from rivetting shots of a Lake Huron salt mine to nuclear reactors throughout the country. There are also photos of famous celebrities taken during tours through Hamilton and Burlington, including Jayne Mansfield, Louis Armstrong and Johnny Cash. Each image is accompanied with detailed captions Bochsler studiously recorded throughout his career. Although he cut production costs with the help of his son Peter’s design work and his son John’s scans and in-house proofing, Bochsler doesn’t expect to make much money from the 3,000 high-quality books he’s had printed. It’s more a way to spread his collection, he says. The Art of Industry, $40 (From the Heart Publishing), is available at selected Chapters and Indigo bookstores, as well as Different Drummer in Burlington and Bryan Prince Bookseller in Westdale, Hamilton.

  • FLEET CANADA INC .
    Fort Erie, March 5, 1968 Operating out of the same Fort Erie location for 75 years, Fleet is a manufacturer of aerospace structures and component parts, having produced everything from radar antennae and naval sonar to Boeing 747 sections. These underwater sonar components were a challenge to photograph, requiring creative lighting and camera angles.
  • 900 CHML RADIO
    July 14, 1963, Burlington Louis Armstrong flashes his trademark smile during an interview with CHML Radio’s R.O. Horning at Burlington’s Brant Inn.
  • FORD MOTOR COMPANY OF CANADA
    Feb. 27, 1981, Oakville This creative shot shows a new pickup truck undergoing a quality control check. The image was taken for Ford Canada’s annual report.
  • ZENON ENVIRONMENTAL
    May 2, 1995, Burlington “This was an assignment for a shot of advanced clean water technology equipment,” writes Bochsler of the Zenon facility, which has since been incorporated into GE’s Power & Water division. “Realizing that there were some very interesting components, I chose some lighting effects and design, and included the technician to enhance this factory assembly.”
  • MARTINDALE HATCHERY
    May 12, 1983, Cayuga While many of his projects were grandiose in nature, Bochsler got a look behind the scenes of some of life’s simpler affairs when he was asked to shoot this chick hatchery, where he photographed many of the operations, including automated egg collection (direct from the laying pens), through to grading and packaging.
  • STUDEBAKER CANADA
    Jan. 8, 1965, Hamilton The Studebaker brand was already reeling by the time Hamilton was designated as the company’s lone manufacturing centre. While the line of new models pictured is being prepared for export, the company would cease operations the following year.
  • HALLIDAY HOMES MANUFACTURING
    Burlington, Oct. 24, 1974 Bochsler was in Burlington, shooting an accident scene near Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital, when he noticed clouds of smoke a few blocks to the west. There he discovered the Halliday Homes factory and mill engulfed in flames. One of his photos appeared on the front page of the Hamilton Spectator
  • WELLAND CANAL CONSTRUCTION
    May 15, 1970, Thorold A team of Red-D-Mix Concrete trucks makes one of a series of deliveries during a major expansion project to reroute the Welland Canal between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. Thousands of cubic yards of concrete had to be trucked in around the clock.


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