Fonds 41 - Henry Busse fonds

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Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Henry Busse fonds

General material designation

  • Textual record
  • Graphic material

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Edition area

Edition statement

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Class of material specific details area

Statement of scale (cartographic)

Statement of projection (cartographic)

Statement of coordinates (cartographic)

Statement of scale (architectural)

Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1944-1968 (Creation)
    Busse, Henry

Physical description area

Physical description

ca. 54,000 photographs : b&w negs and prints, .2 cm text

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Archival description area

Name of creator

Biographical history

Hans Heinrich Maximilian (Henry) Busse was born in Germany in 1896. A veteran of WWI, he studied agriculture at Bonn University. He was married for a brief period in the 1920s but separated from his wife after a few years, with whom he had one daughter. He immigrated to Canada in 1927 and worked at a number of farms and businesses through western Canada. In 1939 he was interned as an enemy alien as he did not yet have his naturalization papers. Released in 1943, he eventually got work as a pipefitter's helper at Eldorado Mining and Refining at Great Bear Lake, where he joined the photography club, improving on the skills he had learned in the 1930s running a darkroom in an Edmonton stationary store. In July 1947 Busse moved to Yellowknife where, encouraged by Father Gathy, he opened Yellowknife's first commercial photography business, Yellowknife Photo Service. His photographic work received international attention and awards. His pictures also appeared in numerous magazines, including National Geographic, which ran a layout of his colour photographs of northern lights. On September 28 1962, Henry Busse chartered Ken Stockhall's Cessna 185 for a photographic assignment in the Nahanni Valley, joined by Gunther Geortz and Vic Hudon from Giant mine as passengers. The group didn’t return at their scheduled time. Despite a two-month air search, their plane was not discovered until June 1963, crashed in a valley near Cli Lake.

Custodial history

Scope and content

This fonds consists of approximately 54,000 black and white negatives, postcards and prints, and one file of text that encompasses Hans Heinrich Maximilian (Henry) Busse's professional photographic work.

7909 images have been given full item description. Of these, the stock file consists of 4909 images that Busse may have considered important or saleable and these were arranged alphabetically by subject by the Museum of the North. Images in the stock file feature a wide range of subjects including animals, boats, bush pilots, aircraft, Dene, Inuit, and mining operations. There are also images of Coppermine (Kugluktuk), Cambridge Bay, Port Radium, Eskimo Point (Arviat), Fort Rae (Behchoko), Lac la Martre (Whati), Hay River, Fort Smith, Fort Resolution, Fort Reliance, Yellowknife and Aklavik. Another 3000 images have been selected from the entire collection and given full item description. Additional subject matter includes Yellowknife social events, weddings, sports teams and games, church activities, Yellowknife businesses, and school events. The remainder of the photographic material is as Busse left it, as photo order envelopes. These images have been rehoused, noting any information on the original envelope, and describing the number and content of the images. A large proportion of these images are studio portraits of Yellowknife residents.

The textual material consists mainly of correspondence from Busse's customers found in the photo order envelopes, as well as three certificates for photograph contest awards from 1958-1960.

An additional accession provided by an anonymous donor contains 42 prints and postcards of Aboriginal people, mostly from the Eastern Arctic.

Some photographs may be the work of Busse's business partner, Gerhard (Gerry) Reimann, or of other studio assistants.

Notes area

Physical condition


Language of material

Script of material

Language and script note

Some notes on envelopes in German, translated where writing was legible.

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

No access restrictions. Nitrate negatives placed in frozen storage.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Finding aids

Hard copy item list available for 4909 stock file photographs. AIMS item descriptions for 3000 images. Envelope-level descriptions of approximately 46,000 images.

Associated materials

52 items in PWNHC Collections, accession 963.007.

Related materials


Physical description

ca. 54,000 photographs : b&w negs and prints, .2 cm text


Possible copyright restrictions.

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