Fonds MSS 430 (A2014-005) - Robert Taylor fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

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Robert Taylor fonds

General material designation

  • Multiple media

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Reference code

CA UMASC MSS 430 (A2014-005)

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

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Physical description area

Physical description

0.13 m of textual records, 210 photographs, 110,451 slides, 1,881 CD collection, 2 video recordings, 4 reels of 16 mm film, 2 audio magnetic reels, 12 audio cassette tapes, 482 negatives, 2 books, and 1 poster.

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Robert “Bob” Ross Taylor was born on June 16th, 1940 in Toronto. He earned his diploma in science photography from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in 1963. Taylor was a photographer his entire working life, renowned for his vivid nature photography. Among his favourite subjects were polar bears, grey owls, and other wildlife and nature scenes.

At the age of 14, Taylor spent a summer as a junior volunteer at the Royal Ontario Museum. This experience affirmed his interest in photography and led to his career as a nature photographer. After his graduation, he worked at the Saskatchewan Museum of Natural History, where he helped develop the audiovisual department. In 1967, he transferred to the Manitoba Museum as head of the photographic department for six years. Taylor also served as a wildlife extension specialist for Manitoba Natural Resources for a year before embarking on a career as a freelance photographer. He set up his own photography gallery in downtown Winnipeg in 1975. From that point, Taylor devoted his time to conducting photography lectures and workshops and leading arctic and sub-arctic tours in Canada and safaris in Africa. His photographs have grazed the pages of national and international publications including Equinox , International Wildlife , Life , Reader’s Digest, Airone , Photo Life , Birder’s World , American Birds , Photo Digest , Birds of the Wild , The Beaver , Art Impressions , Wilderness Canada , Native Canada , Ontario Naturalist , and Canadian Geographic . Taylor's work was also featured in several books by various publishers before he established his own publishing company, Windermere House Publishing. Taylor published books depicting the beauty of Manitoba and his favourite subjects, polar bears and grey owls. Publications by him or that feature his photographs include: The Yellowhead Route (1980); The Manitoba Landscape: A Visual Symphony (1990); The Edge of the Arctic: Churchill and the Hudson Bay Lowlands (1992) which was revised as The Edge of the Arctic: Hudson’s Bay Region ; The Great Gray Owl: On Silent Wing (1997); Manitoba: Seasons of Beauty (2002); The Great Gray Owl: Smithsonian Nature Series (2004); and Tales from the Tundra (2005).

Taylor used his work to promote Churchill, Manitoba as a polar bear sanctuary and helped transform it into a popular tourist attraction. Through his photography, he was also able to showcase the landscapes of Manitoba and other Canadian provinces. Taylor helped launch the Prairie Canada Carvers Association in 1986 and served as president of the Professional Photographers Association of Canada and vice-president of the Professional Photographers of Canada and of the Canadian Science Film Association. Because of his love and respect for nature and his dedication to his profession, Taylor received numerous awards, including a fellowship from the Professional Photographers Association of Manitoba, an honour award for Master of Photographic Arts from the Professional Photographers of Canada, the Queen’s Silver and Diamond Jubilee medals and a Bronze Award from the Columbus Film Festival for the film Assiniboine Forest. Taylor was also given an award for Creative Excellence from the US Industrial Film Festival for the film Prairie Insights . A few weeks before his death, he was also awarded the Order of the Buffalo Hunt for his achievements and contributions to Manitoba. Taylor was one of the few photographers who were accepted into the prestigious Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.

Robert Taylor died on August 15th, 2013 at the age of 73.

Custodial history

The collection was donated in January 2014 to the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections by Robert (Bob) Williams, Taylor’s estate administrator and a close friend and colleague at the Polar Bear, Inc.

Scope and content

The Robert Taylor fonds is a large collection of photographs in different formats. The collection has been organized into two main series (1) Printed Collection and (2) Audio-Visual Collection. The Printed Collection includes Taylor’s biographical records, professional records, draft texts of Taylor’s published books, printed photographs and a poster. The Audio-Visual Collection includes Taylor’s CD collection, slides, video recordings, audio cassette tapes and negatives.

Notes area

Physical condition

All the materials are in good condition.

Immediate source of acquisition

Donated by Robert (Bob) Williams on January 30th, 2014.


The collections of CDs were arranged initially by geographic location, and then by broader categories of the subjects of his photographs. This arrangement is followed whenever is applicable. For the collection of slides, Taylor’s original arrangement was followed. However, the following broader categories are assigned for each slide box.

a. Animals (to represent several categories or classes of animals e.g. reptiles, mammals, birds)
b. Art Works- refers to photographs of paintings, sculptures and other art works.
c. Birds – refers to all types of birds including fowls such as ducks, geese, swans, chicken.
d. Buildings – covers all types of infrastructure e.g. elevators, houses, low and high rise buildings, towers, churches, etc.
e. Fishery - refers to all types of fish or fishes and the fishing industry.
f. Mammals – refers to all animals which feed their young with milk. This includes the polar bears, foxes, muskoxes, squirrels, hares, etc.
g. People – refers to photographs of individual or groups of people.
h. Promotional materials – refers to works by Robert Taylor aside from photographs, such as postcards, calling cards, posters, maps etc.
i. Plants - refers to flowers, plants and trees.
j. Scenery – to cover landscapes, farm sceneries, aerial shots, fields, seashore and beaches.
k. Sports – includes photographs on sports activities or events and anything about canoes and canoeing.
l. Transportation – refers to any medium of transportation including vans, ships, airplanes, trains and tundra buggies.

Geographic categories such as Canada, Africa, Ecuador, Trinidad & Tobago and USA are also indicated, whenever applicable.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

A large volume of the photographs in slides are also available in CDs or electronic format.

Restrictions on access

There are no restrictions on access.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Finding aids

A finding aid can be downloaded from this description by clicking on the Download link under "Finding aid" on the right hand side of this page.

Associated materials

Related materials


No further accruals are expected.

General note

A box lists accompanied the collection when it was donated to the University of Manitoba Archives and Special Collections.

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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Finding aid created by Mary Grace Golfo (2015). Revised by Andrea Martin (November 2015) and N. Courrier (April 2020).

Language of description

  • English

Script of description


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