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    Sgt. Frank Hall with camera (Photographer Unknown) courtesy Shelley Scurrah.
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    W/O Frank Hall (left) Unknown (right) ~ (Photographer unknown) courtesy Shelley Scurrah.
  • Anson_incident.jpg
    Anson Accident Jan. 31st 1941 ~ Photo credit W/O Frank Hall : courtesy Shelley Scurrah.
  • Moanin_Minnie.jpg
    Modified 35mm Bell & Howell Eyemo, 'Moanin Minnie' invented by W/O Frank Hall; Photo credit: W/O Frank Hall.
  • Moanin_Minnie1.jpg
    Modified 35mm Bell & Howell Eyemo, 'Moanin Minnie' invented by W/O Frank Hall; Photo credit: W/O Frank Hall.
  • Moanin_Minnie2.jpg
    Modified 35mm Bell & Howell Eyemo, 'Moanin Minnie' invented by W/O Frank Hall; Photo credit: W/O Frank Hall.
  • autopsy1.jpg
    Frank Hall at the University of Toronto setting up the lighting to film the autopsy of the Egyptian mummy Nakht. Photo credit: Ian Whan.
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    Frank Hall with camera films while medical staff work on the autopsy of the Egyptian mummy Nakht. Photo credit: Ian Whan.
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    Frank Hall inspecting a reel of 16mm motion picture film

W/O Frank Hall RCAF: Canadian Medical Photographer

in Bios/History/Stills Photographers by
W/O Frank Hall.

Earlier this year I had been contacted by Shelley Scurrah, whose great grandfather Frank Hall was a photographer during WWII with the RCAF. Frank Hall went on to shoot motion picture film for medical procedures in Toronto, and in 1974 filmed the autopsy of Nakht an Egyptian mummy currently at the Royal Ontario Museum.  Frank also invented a photo enlarger while in the RCAF, using a Bell & Howell Eyemo, which they affectionately called Moanin’ Minnie. Many thanks to Shelley Scurrah and the Hall family for sharing Frank Halls many accomplishments with me for use on this website.

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FRANK HALL – Date of birth: October 23, 1902.

Frank was the second eldest son of William Hall and Mary Salmon-Hall. Frank had an older brother, Bert and two younger sisters, Lucy and Connie. Franks father William Hall was a master machinist and a mathematician and came to Canada to work in these capacities for the Canadian Pacific Railway in Fort William, Ontario (now known as Thunder Bay) in 1906.

Frank left home at the age of 17 to seek his fortune. He ended up working in Detroit as a mechanic ( a trade he learned from his father) and puttering around in photography. He moved on to North Vancouver late in 1924 to rejoin his family who had moved there after his father William had retired from the railway.

Frank met and soon married Dorothy Moir, a girl who worked in a shop near his North Lonsdale home. They had two children, Marie, born in 1930 and William (Billy) born in 1932. In the early years of their marriage Frank worked as a mechanic in a garage and dabbled in photography (his bobby and first love) making movies with a hand crank movie camera. He did a few odd jobs for an undertaker friend taking pictures needed for identification of bodies involved in fatal accidents. This was a rather gruesome start to a great career in photography.

In 1940 war broke out and Frank joined the Air Force and was stationed in Fort McLeod, Alberta. He trained pilots in the art of aerial photography for reconnaissance. He did his first film of an operation in progress while in McLeod; it was an emergency appendectomy on an airman. Towards the end of the war Franks was transferred to Toronto to the Christie Street Military Hospital where war-wounded soldiers were being sent for treatment. A doctor asked if he would film the surgical repair jobs so that other surgeons would know how to repair similar injuries; this was the start of a new profession. Frank soon realized that in order to be better at what he did he needed to know what he was filing, so he attended the University of Toronto studying extensively in anatomy and histology.

Frank has many accomplishments to his credit; he filmed the first open-heart surgery performed in Canada. He also made the movie of the opening and autopsy of ann Egyptian mummy at the University of Toronto. Right up to the end of his life he acted as an advisor to the photo departments in Sunnybrook Hospital, the Crippled Children’s Centre, and the Toronto East General and Orthopedic Hospital as well as the University of Toronto. He made 90 teaching films in his career; many are still in use.

Frank Hall died August 14, 1978, aged 76 due to heart and kidney failure.
This article was made available through the Marie Hall collection, courtesy of Shelley Scurrah.

Dale Gervais has been actively researching and documenting the history of the Canadian Army Film & Photo Unit since 2006. Dale retired in September, 2018, after almost 36 years as a Film Conservator at Library & Archives Canada.