Library and Archives Canada releases sixteenth podcast episode, William Hind: Illustrating Canada from Sea to Sea

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is releasing its latest podcast episode, William Hind: Illustrating Canada from Sea to Sea.

Retired Collections Manager of Artworks Gilbert Gignac and Art Archivist Mary Margaret Johnston-Miller, both from LAC, join us to discuss William Hind, an artist who played a key role in the development of art in Canadian society. We explore who William Hind was, his unique contributions to art in Canada, and what is included in LAC’s William Hind Collection.

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 podcasts@bac-lac.gc.ca.

Images from William Hind’s Sketchbooks Now on Flickr 

In 1862, artist William Hind joined the Overlanders, a group of gold seekers who crossed the Prairies in search of gold in the Fraser and Cariboo regions. During the trip, Hind produced a sketchbook documenting the group’s travels and some of the difficulties they faced along the undeveloped trails of the West.

Library and Archives Canada’s “false” portraits

A false portrait is an imaginary portrait, usually of a well-known or famous person. The portrait is usually not based on a true likeness and is often created long after the person’s death.

Extremely significant historical figures often did not sit for portraits during their lifetimes. Yet, there has always been a demand for “true” portraits of them.

False portraits were not necessarily attempting to trick or fool people—in many cases, those who created or promoted them did so for very public-spirited reasons. From the 19th century onwards, this famous false portrait of Samuel de Champlain, the founder of Quebec City, served an important commemorative and educational role.

Lithograph attributed to Louis-César-Joseph Ducornet, 1854. It shows an image of a man facing slightly away from the viewer. He wears a black doublet with sleeves that reveal a white shirt underneath. In the background is a view of Quebec City.

False portrait of Samuel de Champlain (MIKAN 2919672)

A false portrait often tells us a lot more about the society that created it than about the historical figure that it is meant to represent. It has been suggested that this pious-looking image made the perfect frontispiece to 19th-century histories of New France, developed by historian-churchmen. It doesn’t seem to have mattered that the portrait is actually copied from a 17th-century engraving of a French civil servant, whose morality was dubious (in French only).

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) holds other intriguing false portraits in its collections. For example, LAC acquired this rare miniature wax portrait, one of very few portraits in this fragile medium to survive.

Wax miniature, by an anonymous artist, early 19th century. This rather generic wax miniature shows a man in profile wearing a red British coat embellished with gold trimming, a white cravat and a blue waistcoat. He has long white hair, tied back. The miniature is quite sculptural.

Wax portrait of General James Wolfe (MIKAN 3793977)

Though labelled a portrait of General James Wolfe, famous for his role during the decisive Battle of Quebec (1759), the miniature does not reproduce any of Wolfe’s known physical features. Yet several near identical wax miniatures exist in other collections—each of these also labelled, in the past, as Wolfe portraits. It’s possible to speculate that many casts of this portrait must have been made, for so many fragile examples to have survived.

Wax was cheap and easy to produce in multiple copies. The portrait was likely created as a kind of mass-produced celebrity image, in response to a vast appetite for portraits of “Wolfe the Hero” that arose among the general public during the 19th century. Probably created long after Wolfe’s death by an anonymous entrepreneur, it presents an idealized and heroic-looking profile view of a young officer—exactly the kind of image guaranteed to satisfy the public imagination.

The greater game of war

Canadian hockey stars were not immune to the call to duty when the First World War erupted in 1914. In fact, the strong young men who made up teams across the country represented the prime demographic for potential soldiers and helped promote the war as the ultimate game an athlete could play.

Developed in partnership with the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, the new exhibition Hockey Marching as to War: The First World War and a Century of Military Ties to the Game recounts how the First World War impacted hockey players and transformed organized hockey during and after the war.

War poster depicting a soldier holding a rifle from which billowing smoke transforms into an illustration of an arena filled with fans watching hockey players on the ice; the soldier is looking at the representation.

“Why don’t they come?” Join the 148th Battalion, recruitment campaign, ca. 1914–1918 (MIKAN 3635547)

The 228th Battalion (Northern Fusiliers) was formed in 1916 and fielded a battalion hockey team who played for the National Hockey Association (NHA). The battalion included 12 professional or semi-professional hockey players. Ultimately, the team was a publicity stunt used to encourage recruitment, to boost morale and to deal with the shortage of players in the NHA during wartime.

But when the battalion was eventually called to the front, scandal erupted as it was revealed that some players were promised they would never have to go to war. Those players who went abroad found themselves assigned to a construction unit, building rails for the next two years.

Black and white panoramic photograph of four groups of soldiers standing outside in winter.

228th Battalion, CEF, 1916 (MIKAN 4474052)

Conn Smythe

Hockey legend Conn Smythe enlisted in 1915, a week after winning the Ontario Hockey Association championship. Smythe served in the Canadian Artillery, earning the Military Cross, before being transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in 1917. He then served as an airborne observer until being shot down and captured. Despite two escape attempts, he spent more than a year in a German prisoner-of-war camp. Smythe would later go on to become principal owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Black and white photograph of a man in uniform looking directly at the camera.

Portrait of Lt. Conn Smythe, ca. 1914–1919 (MIKAN 3221254)

One-eyed Frank McGee

“One-eyed” Frank McGee, as he was known, enlisted in the army in 1914 despite having lost his left eye more than a decade earlier. McGee supposedly bluffed his way through the medical exam by trying to memorize the vision chart with his good eye. The doctor wrote “good” on his medical chart for McGee’s right eye, but left the assessment of his left eye blank—perhaps not wanting to tell the league’s top scorer that he was unable to fight for his country.

Digitized image of a form displaying medical information with fields in black print and handwritten answers in black ink.

Medical certificate of Lt. Frank Clarence McGee (from McGee’s CEF file PDF, p. 28)

In August 1916, McGee joined the Battle of the Somme and died one month later when he was hit by enemy shrapnel. A passage in his obituary read:

“Canadians who knew the sterling stuff of which Frank McGee was made . . . were not surprised when he donned another and now more popular style of uniform and jumped into the greater and grimmer game of war. And just as in his sporting career he was always to be found in the thickest of the fray, there is no doubt that on the field of battle Lieut. McGee knew no fear nor shunned any danger in the performance of his duty.”

(Ottawa Citizen, September 23, 1916)

If you’re in Toronto, check out the exhibition at the Hockey Hall of Fame until February 2015!

Photography of the First World War – Part II: Finding First World War Photos

Following on the first part of this series: The Canadian War Records Office, here are some strategies for locating photographs of the First World War produced by the Canadian War Records Office.

Browsing

You can browse the lower-level records by selecting the ‟sub-series” or ‟sub-sub-series consists of” hyperlinked entries. For example, trying this within the “O” prefix record yields “4134 lower level description(s)” (Note: records are being continually added so this number may change).

Browsing the “O” prefix Sub-sub-series.

Browsing the “O” prefix Sub-sub-series.

Choosing this strategy makes it possible to view the pictures by browsing through them sequentially. This works well if you’re not quite sure what you are searching for but want to have an idea of the way the pictures are described and the type of photographs that can be found in the collection.

Searching

A more robust strategy to locate specific photographs within each series is to use the advanced Archives Search function. You can search using the “O-?” (with the quotes) or the original accession number “1964-114,” and a name or keyword. Using quotes limits the search words to a specific order. Using the question mark (?) allows for an open-ended search. A similar use of the asterisk (*) allows a search that looks for the variants of a word, for example: nurs*: nursing, nurse, nurses.

Searching for nursing-related photographs in the “O” prefix series in Advanced Archives Search.

Searching for nursing-related photographs in the “O” prefix series in Advanced Archives Search.

If you are unsure which series will contain photographs that are of interest to you, try entering the accession number “1964-114” and a specific term, such as “Vimy” (349 results) or “bishop” (21 results).

The following image shows items for nurs*, resulting in nurse and nursing sisters.

Search results for the nurs* search.

Search results for the nurs* search.

Some of the search results may yield records that appear to be duplicates. This is because archivists often create bilingual records to make it easier for all Canadians to find items in the language of their choice. In the case of panoramas, duplication may come from multiple negatives for one finished photographic print, with each part of the negative having its own record.

Explore the Canadian War Records Office images, and discover the “official” photographic record of Canada’s involvement in the First World War.

Other related materials:

Photography of the First World War – Part I: The Canadian War Records Office

The year 2014 marks the centenary of the First World War. In preparation for this date, archivists at Library and Archives Canada (LAC) have been cleaning up the Official Canadian War Photographs Records. They have been made more accessible to Canadians by enhancing their descriptions through thematic organization in the online database. This has been part of a much larger project to organize and describe the entire Department of National Defence’s photograph collection at LAC to ensure that the records are accurate, complete and accessible to the public. When the war began in 1914, most photographers and journalists were ordered away from the front. The First Canadian Division entered the European war theatre the following year. Finally, in 1916, millionaire press baron Max Aitken was granted permission to start the Canadian War Records Office (CWRO) and it became Canada’s “eyewitness to war” sending reports home from the front. Soon, these reports were also accompanied by photographs and paintings.

In addition to acquiring photographs from various sources, over the course of the war the CWRO hired three photographers—Captain Henry Edward Knobel, William Ivor Castle and William Rider-Rider—to travel to France and photograph battles, life at the front, and other activities. These photographs can be accessed under the Canadian War Records Office and were organized and given prefixes by the CWRO such as:

The largest of these CWRO-created prefixes is the “O” prefix. It includes about 4705 images, which were taken between May 1916 and May 1919. We find some of the most famous Canadian images of the war in this series. It includes William Ivor Castle’s shots of “Going over the Top” and the “29th Battalion advancing over No Man’s Land during the Battle of Vimy Ridge.”

Black and white photograph showing soldiers climbing over a ridge.

Canadian troops ‟going over the top” during training course at a trench-mortar school. (MIKAN 3206096)

Both of these photographs were later found to be manipulations: the first being a photograph of a drill, and the latter being a composite of two images to add dead bodies and puffs of smoke.

Black and white composite photograph of soldiers advancing through a field of mud. There's puffs of smoke in the air and bodies in the foreground.

The 29th Infantry Battalion advancing over “No Man’s Land” through the German barbed wire and heavy fire during the Battle of Vimy Ridge (MIKAN 3192389)

The next part of this series will explain how to search for First World War photographs in the Canadian War Records Office collection.

Other related materials:

120th birthday of William George Barker, Canadian flying ace and Victoria Cross recipient

November third marked the 120th anniversary of the birth of William George Barker, Canadian First World War flying ace and Victoria Cross recipient. One of Canada’s most renowned fighter pilots and the most decorated serviceman in the history of the British Commonwealth, Barker shot down 50 enemy aircraft during the First World War.

Major William G. Barker, 1918.

Major William G. Barker, 1918 (MIKAN 3623168)

Barker was born in Dauphin, Manitoba on November 3, 1894. He enlisted in the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles in December 1914 and arrived in France in September 1915 where he served as a machine gunner. In early 1916, Barker transferred to 9 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He transferred to 15 Squadron in July and shot down his first enemy aircraft from the rear of a B.E.2 aircraft. He was awarded the Military Cross in the concluding stages of the Battle of the Somme for spotting German troops massing for a counter-attack and calling down an artillery attack that broke up the 4,000-strong force. After an injury in August 1917, Barker served as a flight instructor in the UK but his ongoing requests for front-line service saw him join the 28 Squadron by the end of the year. Though unexceptional as a pilot, Barker exceled through his aggression in combat and highly accurate marksmanship, coupled with a tendency to ignore orders and fly unofficial patrols.

Major W. G. Barker, VC, (5th from left) with captured Fokker D.VII aircraft at Hounslow Aerodrome, April 1919.

Major W. G. Barker, VC, (5th from left) with captured Fokker D.VII aircraft at Hounslow Aerodrome, April 1919 (MIKAN 3523053)

On October 27, 1918, Barker was attached to 201 Squadron, Royal Air Force and flying a solo excursion over the Fôret de Mormal when he encountered a formation of Fokker D.VIIs from Jagdgruppe 12. In the ensuing battle, which took place immediately above the Canadian lines, Barker shot down four enemy aircraft before crash-landing inside Allied lines. Severely wounded, Barker had only recovered enough to walk the few paces at his Victoria Cross investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace by March 1919.

Major W. G. Barker, VC, with captured Fokker D.VII aircraft at Hounslow Aerodrome, April 1919

Major W. G. Barker, VC, with captured Fokker D.VII aircraft at Hounslow Aerodrome, April 1919 (MIKAN 3214719)

As the most decorated serviceman in the British Commonwealth, Barker is credited with one captured and two (seven shared) balloons destroyed, 33 (and two shared) aircraft destroyed, and five aircraft out-of-control.

Following the war, he and fellow flying ace William “Billy” Bishop formed Bishop-Barker Aeroplanes Limited. Barker joined the fledgling Canadian Air Force as Wing Commander in 1922 and was appointed Acting Director in 1924. He suffered the physical effects of his injuries throughout his post-war life.

He died on March 12, 1930, aged 35, when he lost control of his Fairchild KR-21 biplane trainer during a demonstration flight at Rockcliffe Air Station. His funeral was the largest national state event in Toronto’s history.
Library and Archives Canada holds the CEF service file for Major William George Barker.

To learn more about Canada’s military past, visit the Military Heritage pages.