Early Canadian Travel Photography now on Flickr

The concept of Canadian tourism emerged during the early nineteenth century. Improved modes of transportation, such as new railways stretching across the country, facilitated leisure travel and offered people the chance to witness some of the nation’s greatest marvels and modern achievements.

Photographs were the ideal medium with which to attract potential visitors, and photographers were hired by transportation companies to produce images of majestic scenery that would promote destinations. Later rivaled by amateur picture-takers, eager to create their personal holiday mementos, these photographs were a vital component of the burgeoning tourist industry. The imagery created during this period helped to characterize the country, establishing a sense of national identity by introducing viewers to iconic images of Canadian scenery.

Early Canadian Travel Photography now on Flickr

Images of Winter Carnivals now on Flickr

Early Canadian settlers were in for a surprise when their first winter came upon them. Winters were severe, bleak and long.

It was either give into winter and hide away till spring, or embrace the season and find ways to offset the harsh elements. Early settlers decided to embrace the weather and we have examples of winter carnivals to this day celebrating the season. Cities like Québec, Ottawa, Montréal, Niagara Falls, Toronto, and Vancouver have outside events ranging from sports, music, food, light shows and ice sculptures to enjoy.

Images of 1st Canadian Division now on Flickr

When war broke out in 1914 between Germany and its allies versus Britain and France, Canada’s Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden immediately offered assistance in raising a contingent of troops to defend Europe. Calls for volunteers started in August 1914.

With a small army of approximately 3,000 soldiers, a small navy, and some militia units, Canada was able to enlist about 35,000 men in a matter of a few months. They were stationed at Valcartier Camp situated northwest of Québec City for initial training and formed into battalions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, and into a division—the 1st Canadian Division.

Comprising 31,000 men, the Division was sent overseas by convoy for further training at Salisbury Plain in England where it continued training through the winter of 1914, and was finally sent to France in February 1915. The 1st Canadian Division saw combat at a variety of locations, such as the Ypres Salient (Second Battle of Ypres), Festubert, Givenchy-en-Gohelle, Somme, Vimy Ridge up to the end of the First World War, and serving into the present. The history of the 1st Canadian Division is rich, long-lived and backed by distinction as seen in its motto, “Agile, Versatile, Ready.”

Images of Hockey life now on Flickr

Hockey is so popular in Canada that a number of cities claim to have started, or invented, the game. Some notable claimants are the cities of Halifax, Windsor and Kingston.

There are early recorded events, such as the 1875 indoor game in Montreal at the Victoria Skating Rink, and the 1883 Montreal Winter Carnival hockey tournament where teams from Ottawa and Quebec City participated. There were even amateur associations formed to promote the growth of the game in Canada.

Images of Canadian contributions to the Murmansk Run now on Flickr

Early in the Second World War, Germany invaded and occupied many of its neighbouring countries in Europe. Critical supplies and war materials were transported over the Atlantic Ocean to maintain the Allied war effort in England during this time. However, the Battle of the Atlantic, where Allied supply convoys played cat and mouse with German submarines, raged at a dangerous level.

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.