The Sochi 2014 Games mark 90 years of Canadian athletes representing their country on the Winter Olympic stage. Canadians have competed in all Winter Olympics, starting with the first Games in Chamonix in 1924. Canada is also part of a handful of countries that have won medals at every Winter Games.
Library and Archives Canada holds a rich collection documenting memorable Canadian performances at the Games, the athletes behind these achievements, and the historical development of winter Olympic sports disciplines in Canada.
The Canadian Olympians site provides a visual history of Canada’s participation in the Games. It consists of more than 10,000 images of athletes who participated in the Winter and Summer Olympics, from the early 1900s through 2004.
Find out more about the following winter sports:
- Records of the Canadian Curling Association and the Canadian Ladies Curling Association
- Bonspiel! The History of Curling in Canada
- Figure skating
Use the Archives Search tool to discover many historical documents and images by using keywords such as athletes, sports, Olympics or medals. Here are some examples of what you may find on our website:
- Our Flickr album on this subject
- The Fitness and Amateur Sport records, which contain over 40,000 photographs documenting the performance of Canadian athletes at national and international competitions, including the Olympics
Enjoy the Sochi Games!
In 2008, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) launched its first Flickr set, The Shamrock and the Maple Leaf, which provided a sample of items that could be found in the LAC collection. The set complemented a symposium on Irish-Canadian studies hosted by LAC and supported by the National Archives of Ireland.
This new LAC endeavour quickly proved to be a highly positive one, with viewership of LAC’s Flickr site continuing to grow every time a new set was added.
As LAC’s Flickr site drew more and more viewers, the participation of LAC staff members with specialized knowledge of the collection also grew rapidly. Thanks to those employees, 2012 in particular saw a major increase in the number of sets, covering a variety of significant and interesting topics.
As of September 2013, LAC’s Flickr page featured 74 sets and 2,576 images.
Thanks go out to our staff, and especially to all the people who visit LAC’s Flickr page, for helping us reach 1.7 million views. We hope you enjoy this unique window into our collection.
One of the most beautiful and rare oil paintings in Library and Archives Canada’s collection is this portrait of Colonel John Hale (1728–1806). After returning to England as a hero of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham (1759), Hale had this portrait painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723–1792), a famous portrait artist, who is also renowned for his experiments with paint materials and for his stubborn attitude towards the use of one particular colour.
In the portrait, the lapels of Hale’s uniform are edged in black in honour of the death of General James Wolfe (1727–1759), a reminder of the most recent and significant battle in Colonel Hale’s career. The unusually pale colour of Hale’s face and hands fits well with this serious subject matter. It also seems appropriate for a portrait of a man who lived a long time ago — as modern viewers might expect, Hale appears to be a ghost out of the past.
But Hale’s otherworldly appearance is really a complete accident. To create a flesh colour for faces and hands, Reynolds mixed white pigment with carmine, a dark red pigment made from crushed South American beetles. Unfortunately, early carmine was “fugitive” — it disappeared quickly when exposed to light. This is especially true when, as in this portrait, carmine is mixed with white. White is a colour pigment that is less able to protect carmine from light exposure. Carmine fades away, and white is the main colour that remains behind.
Even within Reynolds’ lifetime, the pale faces in many of his early portraits were noticed. Yet Reynolds is famous for refusing to use vermilion, the more stable but less natural shade of red. He is said to have responded to the suggestion by looking at his own hand and saying: “I can see no vermilion in flesh.”
For more “spooky” portraits, visit our Flickr album.
Beginning in 1871, the Dominion Lands Branch had been surveying and mapping Canada from East to West. By 1886, the Dominion Lands Survey had extended to the Rocky Mountains, but the rugged terrain made traditional survey methods impractical. Édouard-Gaston Deville, Surveyor General of Canada, devised a new methodology called “phototopography,” (also known as photogrammetry) based on the use of survey photography from hot-air balloons in France and Italy. A special camera was constructed for surveyors, who ascended thousands of peaks in Alberta, British Columbia and the Yukon. They rotated and levelled their cameras on tripods to create 360-degree views of the surrounding terrain. Between 1887 and 1958, more than 100,000 glass plate negatives were used to create the first topographic maps of the Canadian Rockies, of which 60,000 are now part of the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) collection.
Since 2002, LAC has been a major participant in the Mountain Legacy Project, an ongoing partnership led by the University of Victoria, which includes stakeholders in universities, archives, government, and non-governmental organizations.
LAC identifies, describes and digitizes the original negatives. These photographic records are the foundation of this multidisciplinary project, which uses “repeat” photography. It consists of re-photographing the landscape from the precise original locations to provide information about environmental changes that have occurred over the last 120 years.
To search LAC holdings of original photographs, follow these easy steps:
- Go to the Basic Archives Search.
- Enter the archival reference number R214-350-0-E in the search box.
- From the Type of material drop-down menu, select Photographic material and then click on Submit. Your search will generate a list of results.
- Select an underlined title to access the full description of a photograph. The descriptive records display images of photographs that have been digitized.
If you wish to narrow your search:
- Go to the Archives Advanced Search.
- Select Photographic material from the drop-down menu labelled Type of material
- Use one or a combination of the following options as keywords in the Any Keyword search box:
- Name of the surveyor (e.g., Bridgland, McArthur or Wheeler).
- Year of the survey (must be used along with another keyword to limit search).
- Name of a survey (e.g., Crowsnest Forest Reserve, or Interprovincial Boundary Survey, although these may have taken place over several years, by various surveyors).
- Name of a particular landscape feature, such as mountain peak, river, creek, or valley (often the views are identified by the station/peak they were taken from, rather than by the peak or landscape featured in the photograph).
- Name of the park (Note: The LAC collection does not contain reproductions of the images from Jasper and Banff National Parks).
- Limit your search results by selecting a decade under the label “Date” on the right side of the screen.
For more information about the Project, and to compare the archival images with the repeat photography, visit the Mountain Legacy Project website. To view a sampling of paired photographs, visit our Flickr Set. To view some images of the surveyors, visit our Facebook Album.
Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!