As a commercial aerial and ground photographer, George began developing and printing film in his darkroom, which was originally in the basement of their apartment building on Main Street in Vancouver. Hilda also learned to process and print film in addition to learning about sales, bookkeeping, and other aspects of running the business. "I'm good on the phone," she commented.
Eventually, photography became an Allen family passion. Son Kenneth Allen took over the business in the mid 1970s after George suffered a stroke. Kenne, as he was known, became an accomplished photographer in his own right, performing commercial aerial and ground as well as newspaper photography.
George and Hilda’s daughter Linda also had fond memories of the family photography business. She happily recalled accompanying her father on assignments as a child. "He used to fly out of the Skyways," she said. "He'd take the door off the airplane and hang out of it with his big, Air Force camera."
After George recovered and retired from the business, he and Hilda spent time traveling, often visiting their cabin near Yale, BC where he panned for gold as a hobby.
George and Hilda were also members of the Lion's Gate Camera Club (LGCC), which his Air Force friend, Leo Dery and another friend, Barry Jefferies, encouraged them to join.
After George fell ill, Hilda's interest in photography developed further. She became more involved in the LGCC, going on club outings and trips. Her fondest memories include traveling to Kenya and Tanzania and taking photos of the scenery and animals on black-and-white film.
At 97, Hilda's passion for life continues and so does the family's legacy of aerial and ground photography.
From SFU AtoM, you can now access a selection of the George Allen aerial and ground photographs of the SFU site clearance, excavation and construction. The collection also includes photographs taken by George Allen of the Installation Ceremony of SFU's first Chancellor, Dr. Gordon Shrum.