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Adams, Desmond Rupert
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Dates of existence
November 14, 1922-November 25, 2007
Desmond Adams, photographer, was born on November 14, 1922. He died in Montreal on November 25, 2007. He was the fourth of six children, all born in Montreal, to Caribbean immigrants, Edith Nanton of Nevis and Herman Adams of St. Kitts. He attended Royal Arthur Elementary School where he discovered his musical ear and learnt to play the accordion. He joined the Canadian army in 1939 and served two years overseas in England and continental Europe during World War II. He was discharged on November 19, 1946. During the late 1940s and the 1950s he performed with his accordion in many cafes in Montreal, and found work as a railroad porter for the Canadian Pacific Railways. While performing with Olga Spencer's Rainbow Revue, he met Jean Peters Gordon, one of the Revue dancers. They married in 1949 and had two sons, David Desmond and Rodney Gordon, now renamed Sur Rodney (Sur).
After being given his first camera, Desmond Adams left his work with the railroad and no longer worked as a musician. Photography became his ambition and he was successful with it. During the 1960s he separated from his wife Jean and divorced her a decade later. During his separation he moved into a Linton Street apartment in the area of Côte-des-Neiges where he lived for many years, and where he built his first darkroom, before moving to LaSalle in the 1980s where he bought his house.
He worked professionally as a freelance photographer and portraitist, and was part of many communities. He began by photographing scenery and then portraits, and eventually established himself as a photographer of events and weddings, while at the same time experimenting with his own distinctive photography. For a short period he experimented with producing and editing short videos recorded with his video camera, and also produced small editions of his poetry illustrated with tipped in reproductions of his photographs. As early as 1972 he began presenting his photographs in solo and group exhibitions, several of them hosted in his home studio. During the 1980s he was employed with the School Board and started a photography club at École secondaire Saint-Laurent, in St. Laurent during the mid 1980s, where he assisted with the photography for the school's yearbook. He retired in 1990.
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Created by the Records Management and Archives Department 2011-09. Input by Concordia University Libraries 2015-07-21.
Adams, Desmond, by Sur Rodney (Sur). Written for the occasion of a Memorial for Desmond Rupert Adams, LaSalle (Montreal), December 19, 2007.