Camera Workers, 1858-1950

The British Columbia, Alaska and Yukon Photographic Directory, 1858-1950

Hegg, Eric A.[1]

Male 1868 - 1947  (79 years)

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  • Name Hegg, Eric A. 
    Born 17 Sep 1867 or 1868  Bollnas, near Stockholm, Sweden Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Where Active (Non-Specific Address) 1900-1908?  Nome, AK Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Where Active (Non-Specific Address) 1897  White Pass (Skagway) Trail, AK Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Where Active (Non-Specific Address) 1898  Dawson, YT Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Where Active (Non-Specific Address) 1897-1899  Atlin, BC; Bennett, BC; Discovery (Pine City), BC Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Where Active (Non-Specific Address) Sep 1897-1900  Yukon Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Where Active (Non-Specific Address) 1908-1910  Cordova, AK Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Copper River and Northwestern Railway construction 
    Where Active (Non-Specific Address) 1910-1918  Alaska Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Died 13 Dec 1947  San Diego, CA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Association Hegg and Larss (Relationship: Partner) 
    Association Hegg and Company (Relationship: Owner) 
    Association Hegg, Peter L. (Relationship: Brother) 
    Person ID I727  Camera Workers | H, vol. 1, 1858-1900
    Last Modified 8 Feb 2017 

  • Notes 
    • STATUS: Commercial.
    • BIOGRAPHICAL SUMMARY: SUMMARY: E. A. Hegg has become the photographer people associate most with the Klondike gold rush. Much of his life still remains obscure and not properly documented. Among events of significance relating to British Columbia were his January 1895 trip to Hawaii on the same vessel that carried the Vancouver, BC, photographer C.S. Bailey. If the two photographers did not become acquainted on the voyage they certainly did so during a tour of Oahu. The Hawaiian Star reported that

      Artist Hegg and Mr. Bailey, who is a photographer, had cameras and secured any numbers of good snapshots. Mr. Hegg may undertake a painting with the pali [Hawaiian word for cliff] as a subject.

      Another Hawaiian paper noted that
      E.A. Hegg, the artist and photographer, took passage by the SS. Miowera today for his home in Whatcom, Washington, after a several [i.e. one and a half] months' visit in Honolulu. Mr. Hegg intends to set up his business there and return to Honolulu, where he will establish a partnership with A.W. Bolster of the Aloha Gallery. Mr. Hegg is a finished artist, as evidenced by the work he has done during his visit.

      When news of the gold discovery in the Klondike reached Seattle, Hegg packed his equipment in Bellingham, Washington, and headed north. His mode of transportation over land was by goatsled. Hegg travelled via the White Pass route out of Skagway. He published souvenir albums in 1900 and 1902 which contain scenes taken in Alaska, BC and the Yukon between Sep 1897 and Sep 1900. During 1898 he had a brief partnership with P.E. Larss as Hegg and Larss. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported on 1 Jan 1899 that Hegg and his wife had returned from an "extended trip in the East" and that he would continue on to Dawson to continue his photographic business. It was probably on that trip that arrangements were made to publish the first of the two souvenir albums. Becker (1949) recounted that a display of Hegg's photographs in New York City caused a near-riot. At the ceremony for the White Pass and Yukon Railway reaching Lake Bennett on 6 Jul 1899, Hegg's camera caught two or three other photographers at work, including amateur E.S. Busby.
      Russ Clift, an apprentice with Hegg during his last two and half years in business, described him as
      a small slight man of perhaps 120 lbs and about 5 ft 3 inches tall. ... From the stories he told me about the hardships he endured while in Alaska, it was hard for me to believe that this small man could have survived. He had to backpack all of his bulky equipment whenever he moved around in the Klondike area. He coated and re-coated his own glass plates and mixed all of his own formulas from chemicals that he carried with him.

      Hegg returned to Bellingham after his northern years and remained in photography there until his retirement in 1934. He moved to San Diego to live with his son.
      The remarkable story of how many of Hegg's glass negatives came to survive and be preserved is recounted in a newspaper article and a book by Ethel Anderson Becker, the daughter of one of Hegg's travelling companions to the Yukon. She made it her mission in life to locate as many of the negatives as possible.
      The Seattle firm [Ira J.] Webster & [Nelson N.] Stevens (established 1902), who acquired some of the Hegg negatives, reprinted many of them with their own logo "W& S". Sometimes Hegg's name was scratched out.
      A detailed capsule biography of Hegg's photography can be found in Elder and Grainger's book on Alaska/Yukon photo postcards. Hegg, as others have stated, did not die in 1955, an error apparently originating in Morgan's book, or in 1948, but in 1947.
    • IDENTIFYING MARKS: Print surface may be numbered, captioned and marked "E.A. Hegg" or "Hegg" or "Hegg & Co." or "W& S".
    • FORMATS: Prints, photo postcards, panoramas.
    • REFERENCES: Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 1895 01 28/7 & 8 (arrival in Honolulu & opens stand as "crayon artist" at J. J. Williams Fort St. photo studio); Hawaiian Star, 1895 03 02/3 (trip around Oahu); Daily Bulletin, 1895 03 05/1 (departure & plans to return & open studio with Bolster); Hegg (1900); Hegg (1902); Alaska Club (1904); Becker (1949 [gives birth date as 1867 09 17]; 1964; 1967); Morgan (1967 [gives death date as 1955]); Jones (1976); Browne & Partnow (1983 [gives death date as 1948 12 13]); Canadiana Authorities, 1984 06 22 (give life dates as 1867-1948); telephone conversation with UWL, Special Collections, 1985 01 28; Elder & Grainger (1989); Grainger (Directory Alaska Postcards, 1992); Letter, Michael Cirelli, 1996 02 14; Letter, Russ Clift, 1996 02 28; UWL, Guide to the August Hahn Collection of Eric A. Hegg Photographs, ca. 1897-1898; UWL, Eric A. Hegg Photograph Collection; UWL, Guide to the Eric A. Hegg Copper River Railway Photographs, 1908-1910.

  • Sources 
    1. [S169] COLLECTION: UWL.
      Glass negatives and prints.
      Eric A. Hegg Collection, PH Coll 274.
      Eric A. Hegg Copper River Railway Photograph Album, 1908-1910. PH Coll 375. URL (accessed 8 Feb 2017):