Alfred Charles Barker Collection
Alfred Charles Barker (1819 – 1873) is a well-known figure in Canterbury’s settlement, as ship’s doctor aboard the Charlotte Jane and as a prolific photographer. He, his beloved wife Emma and their eight children left an incredible collection of letters, photographs and personal artefacts that provide a remarkable insight into life in the new colony. They also give an intimate glimpse into Barker family life and Alfred and Emma’s determination to ensure their family’s wellbeing, education and inclusion in the growing Christchurch settlement.
Arriving as part of the Canterbury Association settlers in 1850, Barker promptly established the first medical practice beside the Avon River in a tent-like shelter named Studding Sail Hall. From here, he strengthened his networks with the settler and Māori communities. Following a spinal injury and Emma’s death in 1858, he ceased practising medicine. He turned to taking care of their children and developing his skills as a photographer. In his devotion to capturing Canterbury’s landscape, people, architecture and events, he recorded the date, time, place and names on most of his images. In these images and in the wider collection, the Barker family have gifted modern Cantabrians a remarkable view of their beginnings.