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Paterson River history

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Edgar Marceau – teacher and photographer

Robert Joseph Edgar Marceau, known as Edgar, was born in 1886 at Araluen near Braidwood, New South Wales. His parents were Joseph Marceau and Margaret Ann Grigg. Edgar attended public school at Araluen West until the age of 16. At 18 he was appointed as teacher in charge of two half-time schools in the Snowy Mountains. He then taught in the Shoalhaven and Toukley districts. He married Daisy Matheson in 1912.[1]

Edgar became interested in photography and purchased a Kodak folding camera, an "autographic" model that allowed him to inscribe basic information on the photo by using a metal "pencil". He inscribed most of his negatives with a subject and date, thus leaving us an invaluable photographic record of people, places and events.

In 1918 Edgar and his family moved to Eccleston on the Allyn River, where he was appointed teacher in charge at Eccleston Public School. Allan Hancock writes "As the school and school house fronted the Allyn River Road, Edgar was in an excellent position to capture the passing parade of rural life including bullock teams, cream wagons, flocks of sheep and various travellers who invariably stopped to chat and were photographed".[1]

Eccleston Public School in 1921

Eccleston Public School in 1921, photo by Edgar Marceau who was teacher there at the time (image: Paterson Historical Society).

While at Eccleston, Edgar became acquainted with John Hopson who was a local land owner and a noted naturalist, biologist and a skilled bushman. John invited Edgar, with his camera, to accompany him on several expeditions to the Barrington Tops, including one of the early scientific explorations of the area. The result is a breath-taking photographic record of the Barrington Tops in the early 1920s.

Edwards Hut in the Barrington Tops

Edwards Hut in the Barrington Tops c1923, photo by Edgar Marceau (image: Paterson Historical Society).

Edgar Marceau on skis in the Barrington Tops in 1923

Edgar Marceau on skis in the Barrington Tops in 1923, (image: Paterson Historical Society).

In 1924 or 1925 Edgar was transferred to teach at Halton, also on the Allyn River, about 10 kilometres downstream from Eccleston. In 1931 he left with his family to teach in the Wauchope district. He retired in 1949 to live in West Kempsey and died in 1981.

In recent years Gresford Historical Society and local historians have collected a large number of Marceau's photos, thus making Marceau's priceless photograhpic legacy available for the public to enjoy. In 2016 Alan wrote his book "Edgar Marceau – the Man and his Photography", published by Gresford Historical Society, that contains a selection of Marceau's photos along with contextual information.

Some of Marceau's photos can be viewed online as part of Paterson Historical Society's digital collection.

bullock teams at Eccleston

Two bullock teams at Eccleston, Allyn River, hauling bridge timber c1920s. Photo by Edgar Marceau (image: Paterson Historical Society, digitally colourised by Brian Walsh in 2020 using the "deoldify" process).

References

1. Hancock, Allan. Edgar Marceau – the Man and his Photography. Gresford Historical Society, 2016.