Preston L. Tait


Preston L. Tait, remembered as a “courteous and unassuming gentleman,” was also the Club’s most accomplished photographer. Tait devoted his life to exploring the mountains, discovering their natural history, and creating photographs of astonishing beauty. These he presented to the public in illustrated lectures and exhibitions. Though he climbed extensively in the Coast Ranges, Selkirks and Rocky Mountains, reaching the summit was not Tait’s main goal. Instead, “he loved simply to be in the wilderness” pursuing his passion for botany and photography. When old age prevented him from climbing, he continued to attend Club meetings “especially if a showing of mountain pictures was on the program.” Mt. Tait, in the Northern Lillooet Icefield, is named in his honour.

Photographic Style

Many of Tait’s images were taken with a Kodak Folding 4A – a large format camera. This he carried with him “at great risk to life and limb” to the best vantage points. He also carried the glass lantern slides upon which the photographs were developed. This begins to suggest not only the effort, but also the care involved in creating these images. Each is carefully framed, the images are razor sharp, and many are meticulously hand-coloured. Though these hand-tinted lantern slides are undoubtedly his greatest work, he himself was grateful for the introduction of colour slide film in the 1940s, writing to his supplier: “Now Anscochrome saves me a lot of work otherwise colouring the slides.”