Tamarack Drive is a series of images from 1969 taken by Jamaican-born, Waterloo, Ontario-based photographer Roy Francis. Originally captured on Kodak Ektachrome 35mm transparency film and developed by Roy at the family home on Tamarack, the series offers a candid glimpse of early Caribbean-Canadian life in Waterloo Region. Curated by Roy’s grandson Aaron Francis, whose grandmother, mother, and uncles appear here alongside one another outside the family home and on family trips to Niagara Falls and the Canadian National Exhibition.
Installed as a series of six oversize window graphics located on the street-facing side of East Campus Hall, 263 Phillip Street is a 25-minute walk from the Tamarack Drive neighbourhood where many of the images where taken. The window takeover expands the public presence of the gallery during lockdown while importantly providing a new context for the work Aaron Francis presents on Instagram under the hashtag Vintage Black Canada™. In curating his family’s archive of photography and slides he proudly represents a Caribbean-Canadian community that has traditionally been underrepresented in Waterloo, while connecting with the broader African diaspora across Canada.
Aaron T. Francis is a doctoral student at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, a multidisciplinary artist, and a curator. The former chair of the City of Kitchener’s Arts and culture advisory committee, Aaron has exhibited works from his Vintage Black Canada™ initiative at the BAND Gallery Toronto, the Gladstone Hotel, the Contact Photography Festival, the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) as well as with Ryerson University’s Fashion and Race Database.