William H. Harbeck was born in Toledo, Ohio in September, 1863.He married Catherine (born in 1863) in 1886, and they had two sons, John (born April 1887) and Stanley (born Feb 1892). He gained his reputation in 1906 when he filmed the aftermath of the San Francisco earthquake. He was subsequently hired by the Canadian Pacific Railway to “put Western Canada on the motion picture screen.” He produced 13 one-reelers designed to show Canada at its best and to attract Europeans to Canada. The Victoria and Vancouver reel was obviously one of these.
In 1912, the C. P. R. sent him to Paris to study with Leon Gaumont, who had mastered the outdoor location shoot. According to the Weekly Advocate for Newark, Ohio (January 23, 1913), William Harbeck had been in Europe “arranging for the disposition of 110,000 feet of motion picture film which he had made on a trip to Alaska, together with his motion picture machine valued at $600.”
Mr. Harbeck had notified relatives that he would sail for New York on the ill-fated vessel. It is likely that he was hired by the White Star Line to film the maiden voyage and it is thought that he was going to be taken off the vessel to film the arrival in New York. Strangely, Mr Harbeck was travelling on the Titanic with Henriette Yrois, a 24-year old model he had met on his European trip. Both died in the sinking; he was identified by his membership card in the Moving Picture and Projecting Machine Operators Union.
See a listing of his personal effects recovered from the Titanic
To see the virtual exhibit on the Titanic click here
On Saturday, April 20, 1912, a very grainy photograph of William H. Harbeck was published in the Calgary Herald with the caption: “Well known in Calgary, who is said to have been on the Titanic. Mr. Harbeck was engaged, it is said, to take a series of picture of the Titanic’s first voyage. ”
He took many pictures in Alberta in connection with C. P. R. advertising. click here to see the photo Mr Harbeck With Camera
Harbeck’s widow, Catherine, of Toledo, Ohio filed a claim against the owners of the Titanic for damages for the loss of her husband and considerable property. She claimed $25,000 for her husband’s death and $55,000 for the loss of property.His business partner, Mrs. Katherine George of Seattle claimed $41,000 for the films that had been lost.
Learn More About Harbeck’s video by reading the newspaper article – 19070507010
For a recent biography of William Harbeck visit this site http://alturl.com/2x48s
This Hallmark Heritage Society project has been funded by the Hbc Foundation and the BC150-Heritage Legacy Fund
Project Manager and researcher: Helen Edwards
Principal Photography & Consultant: Ron Bukta, West Ventures Photography