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No.: PR3369
TITLE: Robert McKay Brebner fonds
CREATOR: Robert Brebner
DATE RANGE: [ca. 1890] - 1909
EXTENT: 267 photographs : dry plate glass negatives. - 96 photographs : nitrate negatives

Robert McKay Brebner was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on October 18, 1855 to Alan Ramsey Brebner and Francis Ann (McKay) Brebner. He moved to Alberta in 1882 and secured a homestead in Spruce Grove. In 1890, he visited Scotland and returned to Spruce Grove with a camera with which he would document his life.

In 1894 or 1895, he was joined by Emily Wynn Wrench, a friend of his family, and the two were married in Edmonton. They lived in Robert's original log cabin on the Spruce Grove homestead. After the birth of their first son, Alan Ainslie, in 1896 a new two-story house was built on the farm. A second son, Alexander Blaikie, was born in 1897 but died after 11 days. Robert and Emily had two more children, Mary Elizabeth Bruce in 1899 and Robert Wynn in 1900.

The Brebner family returned to Scotland in 1908. Robert eventually returned to the Spruce Grove homestead alone where he died suddenly on November 9, 1909 before his family returned. Robert was buried in the Pioneer Cemetery in Spruce Grove. Emily remained on the homestead, running it with hired help until Alan took over operation of the farm at the age of 17. Emily eventually moved to White Rock, British Columbia, with her daughter, Mary, and died in 1937.

CUSTODIAL HISTORY:The negatives were in the custody of Robert Brebner until his death in 1909. At that time, the negatives remained in the log cabin on the Brebner homestead before coming into the custody of Robert's grandson, George Brebner. George and Lillian Brebner donated the negatives to the Provincial Archives in 2009.
SCOPE AND CONTENT: The fonds consists of photographic negatives depicting a wide variety of activities related to farming and labour, and family and daily life and leisure in the early homesteading period of Albertan history. Images include family portraits, the Spruce Grove homestead, farm work and equipment, horse-drawn carriages and carts, First Nations, and locations in Scotland.
PHYSICAL CONDITION: When the records were donated, most of the glass plate negatives were infested with mould, several were cracked, and some of the emulsions were flaking and separating from the base. Most of the nitrate negatives were very curled and creased and some of the nitrate emulsion was flaking and separating from the base.
LANGUAGE NOTE: The material is in English.
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