We all know how difficult it is to get a good group portrait-- the more people there are, the less chance there is of everyone looking nice, or even just not blinking. When you add in the desire for a nice composition, well-lit, with a variety of engaging poses, there doesn't seem much solution except photoshop.
19th century photographers agreed. Why try to get a good group portrait when you can crop together a bunch of nice portraits taken separately? So some of them--most notably Montreal photographer William Notman-- did exactly that. Notman would taken dozens of individual, studio portraits, then cut each figure out and paste them onto a painted backdrop. More paint was used to get light and shadow and contrast just right. At this point, the image would look like this, and be very large (I've been lucky enough to see examples in person; the ones with dozens or more figures are easily 3 by 6 feet). This creation would then be photographed itself, so smaller, more "photographic" images could be printed and given to all the persons involved. (The Montreal Musee McCord Museum, home to Notman's archive, has a much more detailed write-up, if you are interested).
The final results are a strange sort of hybrid, somewhere between photograph and painting, almost uncannily in their resistance of categorization. Though these images have been digitized in black-and-white, most of the photographs are albumen prints-- dark purple and cream when first printed, usually brown and yellow today, after deterioration (as can be seen in the final image).
Bute House skating party, Montreal, 1873. Source
Royal Scots D Company, Montreal, 1884. Source
Railway Engineering Department staff, 1896 (image copied 1922). Source
Curling on the St. Lawrence, Montreal, 1878. Source
Group of snowshoers, Montreal, about 1880. Source
Grand Trunk Railway Engineering Department, 1877. Source
Montreal College student group, 1877. Source
Jonathan Hodgson's family, 1880. Source
Two women curling, 1876. Source
Tobogganing race, Montreal, 1886. Source
Toboggan crash, 1889. Source
St. Georges Snowshoe Club at the gates of McGill University, Montreal, 1880. Source
Philip Simpson Ross family, 1904. Source
Skating carnival, Montreal, 1881. Source
Red Cap snowshoe club, Halifax, NS, 1888. Source
A tobagganing group, 1876. Source
Ladies in St. Alban's, Vermont, 1873. Source
Montreal Snowshoe Club, Mount Royal, Montreal, 1877. Source