Photographing Brampton: The Betty Odlum fonds

In 2016 the Region of Peel Archives was thrilled to accept the records of Brampton resident Betty Odlum. Betty was a skilled amateur photographer who spent most of her life taking pictures of her hometown.

Betty Eleanor Odlum was born on September 29th, 1924 to parents Milford J. Odlum and Lavina Bellas. She lived her entire life in Brampton, with the majority of that time spent at 40 Lorne Avenue, which is just on the edge of the former Dale Estate Nursery properties. After attending school in Brampton she took courses at a business college, graduating in 1943. That same year she joined Bell Canada as an employee, working out of their Brampton offices until the day she retired. An excellent amateur photographer, she spent a considerable amount of time documenting the neighbourhood, particularly the changing structures of Brampton in the downtown core, the demolition of the Dale greenhouses and the building of subsequent new homes. She passed away on August 13th, 2015.

The Betty Odlum fonds has recently been processed, and includes around 2,600 photographs either created or collected by Betty. Most of the photographs ([187-?]-2015, predominant [ca. 1925] – 2004) are of the Brampton and Chinguacousy area but there are a few that were taken further afield. The photographs, which vividly illustrate the changing natural and built landscape in the Brampton area, document a wide variety of things, including numerous local parades and celebrations, the Dale Estate, train stations and railway cars, Brampton area streets (including Main Street (Hurontario), Queen Street, Lorne Avenue, Isabella Street, Rosedale Avenue, and others), the Malton Airport, various local Brampton properties including municipal buildings, businesses, churches and private dwellings, and area parks, lakes, and bridges.

Also found within the fonds is an album of material pertaining to the Town of Brampton’s Centennial celebrations and the Royal visit in 1973, as well as documentation of outhouses found throughout Peel in the 1970s (a project Betty referred to as “The Privies of Peel.”) Finally, the fonds contains one of the oldest known photographs of downtown Brampton, documenting the corner of Main and Queen in the 1870s.

Below is a sampling of photographs from the Betty Odlum fonds:


Corner of Main Street (Hurontario) and Queen Street, Brampton, [187-?]


Peel County court house, Toronto Township [ca. 1968]


Norman’s service station, Brampton, [ca. 1950]


Centennial parade, Brampton, 1967


Flooding in downtown Brampton, likely 1948


Lorne Avenue, Brampton, [ca. 1956]


White Rose service station, Brampton, [195-?]


Looking south on Main Street, Brampton, near John Street, 1960. The BA gas station is where Brampton City Hall is now located.

Betty’s photographs can be viewed in the Archives’ Reading Room during our hours of operation. Please check our website for current hours.

Kyle Neill, Senior Archivist


6 responses to “Photographing Brampton: The Betty Odlum fonds

  1. What a remarkable collection – and the finest image I’ve seen of J. W. Cole’s photo studio at Queen and Main. Beautiful!


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  3. g Betty also took many pictures of Greenway Retirement Home, surrounding area. Residents, staff
    and Activities.


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