J.H. Hopkins - The Father of Port Stanley
Born in St. Thomas in 1857, Hopkins started working for W.A. Cooper and W.E. Lindop at the age of 14, and by 1883 he was in partnership with his brother-in-law T.H. Scott. After the partnership dissolved in the late 1880s, Hopkins stayed at this location until he built the Hopkins Block. Built in 1893 at 355 Talbot Street it included a photographic studio and retail/office space. After retiring in 1922 J.H. Hopkins sold the studio to Browne Studio and there was a photographic business in the building until the late 1940s. Interestingly, when he retired one entire side of his studio was filled with glass plate negatives which unfortunately have not survived.
This postcard is from the Robert Moore Postcard Collection from the Elgin County Archives. Here you can see on one of the awnings, Hopkins Photos. Click on the postcard for a closer look.
Here are a sample of stamps used by Hopkins during his time as a photographer in St. Thomas
Click on the above advertising for a closer look
In 1895 he created a flash light machine after being asked to take more indoor photographs. It is speculated that this machine made it possible for shorter exposure times and therefore interior photographs were easier to produce. He later went to Toronto to make arrangements to manufacture the new apparatus. What happened after is not known, however in 1896 “he is doing good work with the flash machine however it is too bad he has not put it on the market more than he has” (CJ of P Vol. V No 1 pg 32)
J.H. Hopkins was a prominent builder in St. Thomas and became the “Father of Port Stanley”. He organized the Stanley Beach Amusement Company and in 1909 built the Port Stanley Beach Casino which was a hot spot and put Port Stanley on the map and allowing for later attractions like the Stork Club.
Hopkins married Anne Scott (T.H Scott’s sister) and named his two sons after the Scott family; Henry (Harry) Scott and Chester Hunter. When he died on July 2 1927, Port Stanley and St. Thomas mourned his loss and the Casino closed its doors for the day, the first time since it had opened.