Canterbury’s First Photographer Died – 20th March 1873

Dr. A.C. Barker (pictured at the Godley Statue) sought opportunities and fortune – and we should be so grateful that he did.

He couldn’t pass up the great opportunity of becoming the on-board doctor of the Canterbury Association’s first ship ‘Charlotte Jane’ in 1850. This not only gave him free passage for he and his young family to Canterbury but also would have him make his fortune as a colonial doctor and surgeon – surely he would be in high demand which meant big bucks!

Unfortunately, his ventures as the colony doctor didn’t measure up to what A.C. had dreamed. Some of those he treated never paid while others didn’t have much money to begin with. Interest in his practice began to fade, so with the arrival of other doctors and following the death of his beloved wife Emma in 1858, A.C. walked away from medicine for good.

Completely committed to his hobbies, A.C. started to dabble in photography. His first ever photo was dated 1858. He took photos of family and friends (usually in his garden in Worcester Street) as well as Christchurch. Thanks to A.C. we have many early images of Christchurch – historians alike are very grateful for this!

By the 1870s, A.C.’s health began to decline. He bravely photographed himself during this decline, to help doctors in the future with a similar case to his. A.C. died in 1873 of meningitis. His funeral service was held at St Michael and All Angels and then around 600 people followed his coffin to Barbadoes Street Cemetery.

For a more in depth look at Dr. A.C. Barker, please check out the following link: http://www.peelingbackhistory.co.nz/dr-a-c-barker-1819-1873/

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