Canada is distinguished from most other countries by the diversity of its population. Our unique cultural, ethnic and linguistic mosaic is reflected in the wide assortment of holdings at Library and Archives Canada associated with the different ethno-cultural groups.
In the early 1900s, the introduction of reindeer to Canada was seen as a possible way of supplying food and bringing an economic boost to remote northern areas of the country. This animal had been domesticated in many other northern nations and had played an important role in sustaining the population. While reindeer meat, milk and other bi-products such as hides and horns can provide resources vital to life, these animals are also strong—packing or pulling heavy loads great distances. As well, they are naturally adapted to the northern climate and environment.
Several efforts to introduce reindeer to Newfoundland and Baffin Island had early success but the most successful example was the Alaskan experiment. The American government, urged on by missionary groups, purchased 1,200 Siberian reindeer from Russia between 1892 and 1902. Another small herd was bought in Norway and shipped to Alaska, along with a group of Lapp herders and their families, hired to manage the animals and train the local indigenous population to become herders.
Canada’s government began to study the results of the American experiment. A Royal Commission on reindeer and musk-ox was appointed in 1919. The dramatic growth of the Alaskan herd was impressive, several hundred thousand deer, spread across a hundred herds, with several hundred local indigenous owners and herders engaged in the enterprise. Fresh meat was now available for local consumption, and sold to the southern states for profit.
Many groups pressed the Canadian government for action, resulting in plans to purchase an Alaskan herd and move it to a suitable site in the Northwest Territories. Two Interior Department botanists searched for a location with good grazing, recommending a headquarters be established (to become known as Reindeer Station) east of the Mackenzie River delta. A contract was signed with the Loman Bros. Company for purchase and delivery of 3,515 animals at a price of $150 a head. The reindeer drive was expected to take 18 months and cover 1,500 miles but incredibly it took five years and travelled twice the distance. In March 1935, Andy Bahr and his crew delivered 2,370 reindeer. Shortly afterwards, 811 fawns were born, bringing the final total close to the initial target number.
The early success was followed by a series of setbacks, culminating in the death of four Inuit owners and a Lapp trainer in a boating accident in 1944. It became more difficult to interest traditional Inuit hunters to abandon their customary lifestyle for the often lonely and monotonous life of a herder. Months of effort could be overturned in a moment as storms or predators could cause a stampede resulting in the loss of many animals.
As with the other Canadian experiments, the Reindeer Project did not achieve the success of Alaska’s venture. The herds under Inuit control were passed back to government control and the Canadian Wildlife Service administered the operation until 1974, at which time it was sold to a private owner, Canadian Reindeer Ltd., and remains a private operation today. Although the ambitions of early advocates have not been achieved, the efforts form an interesting piece of Canada’s northern history.
There are hundreds of documents and photographs held in the Library and Archives Canada collections which reveal much more detail about the reindeer experiment in Canada. You can have a look at some of them by searching the following sources:
- Commission to Investigate into and Report upon the Potentialities of the Arctic and Sub-Arctic Regions of Canada as a Grazing Country for the Development of Musk Ox and Reindeer Herds for Commercial and National Purposes Fonds
- Northern Affairs Program sous-fonds
- Canadian Wildlife Service sous-fonds
- Canadian Parks Service sous-fonds
- Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development fonds
- Department of Agriculture fonds
- Department of the Interior fonds
- Department of External Affairs fonds
Prime Ministers’ papers
- Sir Wilfrid Laurier fonds
- Sir Robert Borden fonds
- Arthur Meighen fonds
- Richard Bedford Bennett fonds
- William Lyon Mackenzie King fonds
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is releasing its latest podcast episode, “Digging Into the Past: Family History in Canada”.
In this episode, genealogy consultants Sara Chatfield and Richard Lelièvre from Library and Archives Canada join us to discuss genealogy research. We explore what genealogy is, what is involved, how to start, suggest resources to use and how Library and Archives Canada can help you with your genealogy research.
Subscribe to our podcast episodes using RSS or iTunes, or just tune in at Podcast–Discover Library and Archives Canada: Your History, Your Documentary Heritage.
For more information, please contact us at email@example.com.
In the early 1660s, New France was facing many challenges. It had been weakened by 20 years of fighting against the Iroquois and the far-reaching powers of the governor. It was time to reorganize New France, and so Louis XIV, along with Jean-Baptiste Colbert, his minister responsible for the colonies, decided to take action. In 1663, New France became royal property. The governor’s powers were reduced, and the colony was reorganized administratively. An important role was given to the Intendant, as representative of the King, in the administration of justice, police and finances.
On March 23, 1665, Louis XIV appointed Jean Talon to the position of Intendant. Almost 40 years old at the time, Jean Talon had been educated by the Jesuits in Paris, and he had an excellent reputation as an administrator. He had held various administrative positions in the French military and had become the Intendant of the County of Hainaut in 1655.
Jean Talon held the position of Intendant from 1665 to 1668 and from 1670 to 1672, putting in place many initiatives that greatly improved conditions in the colony. First, he worked to increase the population by promoting immigration, encouraging and supporting large families, urging single people to marry, bringing over the filles du roi, motivating soldiers to settle in the colony after their military service, etc.
Talon encouraged people to settle permanently by making it easier to access land, but also by forcing them to live on the land. Added to concession contracts were specific clauses requiring settlers to clear the land and “keep hearth and home” within 12 months, and prohibiting them from selling the land until there was a house built on it and two acres had been cleared.
Talon also oversaw the reorganization of the legal system; he reduced the number of trials by fostering accommodations, promoting out-of-court settlements and asking that cases at the first level be brought before him directly.
In terms of the economy, Talon was a visionary: he dreamed of factories in New France producing textiles, rope, tar, potash, soap, etc. He conducted mineral exploration around Trois-Rivières, a prelude to the Forges du Saint-Maurice in the 18th century, worked toward creating a network of alliances for the fur trade, and built a brewery in Quebec City to produce local beer. By the time he left, the face of New France had changed dramatically!
Library and Archives Canada holds copies of many historical documents written by Jean Talon, including his memoirs and observations on the state of the colony, correspondence, and the censuses held in 1666 and 1667.
There are few historical events in our national story that solicit stronger opinions and create more debate than the disputes of 1870 and 1885 between the Métis in Western Canada and the Government of Canada. Various names refer to these two series of events, and their usage often reflects the loyalties, opinions and even biases of the user. Today, we see the application of such terms as rebellion, resistance, insurgency and disputes.
Arguably, the debate on the events of 1870 and 1885, Louis Riel, and the place of the Métis in our history and contemporary Canadian society has had an enduring effect on our national psyche. In March, 1885, an article published in The Globe of Toronto stated: “It is not given to every man to have caused two rebellions. In the history of the Dominion, Sir John Macdonald and his friend Riel alone have won that distinction.”
To put things into context, the 1870s saw the disappearance of the bison herds, pushing many First Nations peoples to near starvation. As for the Métis, the loss of the bison on which they also depended brought hardship that was further compounded by the end of the fur trade.
The Métis of the North-West Territories felt that the established North-West Council failed to represent their interests. They sought assurances from Ottawa that the titles to their river-lot homesteads and farms would be guaranteed in advance of any large-scale influx of settlers.
The Métis sent more than 70 petitions to Ottawa in an attempt to address these grievances, none of which were responded to. In the eyes of the Métis, the federal government was indifferent to any attempt to redress territorial grievances and protect occupant rights.
Frustrated white settlers newly arrived in the North-West Territories were also waiting for their property titles, as they were necessary for obtaining loans to improve their farms. At the same time, widespread dissatisfaction with the First Nations treaties and rampant poverty prompted Chief Big Bear, of the Plains Cree, to attempt to renegotiate the terms of the treaties. Hence, the First Nations issues and grievances were largely unrelated to those of the Métis and white settlers apart from their commonly held belief of a neglectful, distant and imperial Ottawa.
As a result, the Métis decided to resist any subsequent actions by the federal government. When Louis Riel organized an “illegal” provisional government, it incited Ottawa to assert its sovereignty in the North-West Territories.
The North-West Rebellion (or North-West Resistance) was a violent, five-month uprising against the Canadian government, fought mainly by Métis militants and their First Nations allies.
With the Métis defeat at the Battle of Batoche (in present-day Saskatchewan), the North-West Resistance had essentially ended. For many, including Louis Riel and Chief Big Bear, the consequences were swift and direct.
Métis and First Nations communities would suffer severe and lasting consequences from the events of 1885. In addition, relations between the French and the English and the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people of Canada would be set back for years to come.
A collection of 500 pre-1800 books were recently relocated to a permanent location in Library and Archives Canada’s rare books vault. The vault is equipped with optimal environmental conditions to ensure this special collection is properly preserved for generations to come. Prior to being transferred to Library and Archives Canada, the books were owned by the Library of Parliament. Most of this collection consists of books published in England or France, and many are multi-volume sets. The subject matter ranges from geography and history to theatre and essays.
About the Collection
The majority of the books are 18th-century hand bindings bound in full or partial leather. The collection also comprises some books made of paper, cloth or parchment. The books are decorated with intricate gold titling and tooling and are often accented with unique and stunning marbled papers, commonly used as the endpapers.
The condition of the books
Before being added to the Rare Book Collection, factors such as moisture, temperature, light and dust contributed to the deterioration of many of the books. Although some books are in excellent condition, with the binding structures and text blocks intact, many are damaged and show signs of damage. Some items have suffered from water and fire damage, or contain traces of a pest infestation, while others are weakened and damaged due to centuries of physical use.
Red rot and leather deterioration
A large percentage of the collection (approximately 90%) suffers from various levels of leather deterioration. In some extreme cases, the type of damage is referred to by conservators as red rot. The deterioration of leather is a common issue in leather from this period as the tannins used in the manufacturing process contain chemicals that, over time, and in the presence of oxygen, undergo a chemical change that breaks down the leather molecules. This causes the leather to weaken, flake and powder.
Next steps for this collection
So much can be learned from this collection of historical and beautiful books. Check back with us for the next blog posts on the physical inventory of this collection , which includes a detailed inventory of the state of the collection, the levels of conservation treatment required, the material composition of the books, type of decorations, etc. Also have a look at the following post, detailing what steps will be taken to preserve this fine collection.
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is releasing its latest podcast episode, Celia Franca: Shall we dance?
Discover the story of Celia Franca, a woman who introduced Canada to world-class dance performances, pioneered the internationally famous National Ballet of Canada and devoted her entire life to dance. In this episode we are joined by LAC archivists Michel Guénette, Théo Martin and assistant archivist Judith Enright-Smith who will speak to us about who Celia Franca was, and the dance-related resources available to researchers at Library and Archives Canada.
Subscribe to our podcast episodes using RSS or iTunes, or just tune in at Podcast–Discover Library and Archives Canada: Your History, Your Documentary Heritage.
As of today, 129,271 of 640,000 files are available online via our Soldiers of the First World War: 1914–1918 database.
Long before European settlers came to America, Aboriginal peoples had developed communication systems that did not require writing or printing as was used in Europe or Asia. While it is generally acknowledged that Amerindians historically accessed their past primarily through oral traditions, we also know that they used physical means of communication for various purposes: for example, to communicate information; convey knowledge; commemorate events; identify certain titles, social positions and family ties; remember concepts, chants and ceremonies; and to situate past events in time and space.
Various modes of cultural transmission used drawings and symbols to express an idea or share information. Pictograms (stylized drawings used as symbols) were painted, drawn, traced, sculpted or woven using different materials. Themes often dealing with hunting, war and the supernatural world were represented in combinations of different colours, sizes and arrangements.
Written by a French Jesuit in 1666, “Mémoire au sujet des neuf familles qui composent la nation iroquoise [memoir of the nine families making up the Iroquois nation] (French only) includes drawings and explanations revealing how the Iroquois used pictograms to communicate information about family clans, military expeditions under way, the number of injured, etc.
These Aboriginal communication systems are found on bark rolls, animal skins, totem poles and rock faces (the images are known as petroglyphs). We also know that the Iroquois used—and still use today—special ceremonial canes covered in motifs representing the 50 chiefs of the Haudenosaunee Confederation, and that Amerindians sometimes made marks in sticks of different sizes to remember what they needed to discuss at meetings. They would also make notches in trees to indicate, for example, details of their travels through the land.
Because signs and symbols were used primarily as memory aids to illustrate concepts, they do not refer to specific words in spoken language; therefore they cannot be read in the same way as one would read a text. As valid and reliable as the written word, these mnemonic devices have the advantage of communicating information between people who speak different languages. Anyone able to recognize and decode the icons and symbols can decipher and understand the message, much like road signs today.
Here is a list of our recently acquired genealogy publications. You can consult them in the Genealogy and Family History Room located on the 3rd floor at 395 Wellington Street. The link to the AMICUS record gives the call number you need to find the book on the shelves.
If you’re just starting out in genealogy, you should check out our Genealogy and Family History pages.
Le grand rassemblement…: familles Zéphirina Dupuis, Aquila Dupuis, André-Joseph Dupuis : généalogie et biographie by Francine Dupuis Loranger (AMICUS 43219206)
Mes ancêtres Laroche et Desrochers by Lyne Laroche, Nicole Levesque (AMICUS 43036457)
The Melanson story: Acadian family, Acadian times by Margaret C. Melanson (AMICUS 43102537)
Une famille, un village, un pays : les Gagnon, les Bergeronnes, le Québec by Rodolphe Gagnon (AMICUS 42915824)
Ethnic and Local Histories
Cartes mortuaires. Les Éboulements et Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive by Alain Anctil-Tremblay, Jean-Philippe Tremblay (AMICUS 41850791)
Cimetières La Malbaie by Alain Anctil-Tremblay, Jean-Philippe Tremblay (AMICUS 41850786)
Cimetières Les Éboulements, 1733-2010 et Saint-Joseph-de-la Rive, 1932-2010 by Alain Anctil-Tremblay, Jean-Philippe Tremblay (AMICUS 41850986)
Familles Caron d’Amérique : répertoire généalogique by the Association les familles Caron d’Amérique (AMICUS 43168696)
Généalogie des familles acadiennes de l’Île-du-Prince-Édouard (volume 5) by Jean Bernard (AMICUS 38333031)
Gravestones of Glengarry (volumes 10 to 14) by Alex W. Fraser (AMICUS 48101)