Arctic Images from the Turn of the Twentieth Century

Explorers and travellers have long been documenting their Arctic adventures in diaries, manuscripts, maps, sketches and watercolours. Their accounts portray the Arctic as a mystical land, whose inhabitants and way of life seem unspoiled, and this imagery was further disseminated to audiences abroad with the invention of the photograph.

The following photographs are part of the Arctic Images from the Turn of the Twentieth Century exhibition presented at the National Gallery of Canada. Featuring material from Library and Archives Canada’s collections, the exhibition showcases rarely seen images, which document photographers’ travels in the Canadian north. In many cases, these images present a romanticized view of the people and places.

One of the earliest images is this photograph of a hunter, taken by George Simpson McTavish while he was stationed at the Hudson’s Bay Company at Little Whale River, Quebec, in 1865.

Portrait of a hunter, a beluga, a seal skin “daw” (a buoy), and a kayak along the edge of the Little Whale River, Quebec. Photographer: George Simpson McTavish.

Portrait of a hunter, a beluga, a seal skin “daw” (a buoy), and a kayak along the edge of the Little Whale River, Quebec. Photographer: George Simpson McTavish. (Source: MIKAN 3264747, e011074631)

The majority of photographers who ventured to the Arctic regions were men, and for the most part, were employed by the Hudson’s Bay Company and the Canadian government. Geraldine Moodie was one of the few female photographers. She had a successful photography studio prior to moving north with her husband when he was posted to the North West Mounted Police station in Fullerton (Qatiktalik in Inuktitut), Nunavut. Her portrait of an Inuit widow and her children, taken around 1904, is a good example of her beautifully composed images.

Widow and her children, Nunavut, by Geraldine Moodie.

Widow and her children, Nunavut, by Geraldine Moodie (Source: MIKAN 3376416, e006581106)

The vast majority of photographs of Inuit emphasized the ethnological attitudes of the era by presenting them as “types,” such as this 1926 image of an unidentified man.

Unidentified man, Chesterfield Inlet (Igluligaarjuk), Nunavut, by Lachlan T. Burwash, Department of Indian and Northern Affairs.

Unidentified man, Chesterfield Inlet (Igluligaarjuk), Nunavut, by Lachlan T. Burwash, Department of Indian and Northern Affairs (Source: MIKAN 3376543, PA-099335)

In other cases, Canadian government staff took photographs to highlight federal government initiatives and policies, such as this 1948 image of four women looking at a family allowance poster. Below it, also from Health and Welfare Canada’s Medical Services Branch, is the portrait of Bella Lyall-Wilcox carrying her baby sister, Betty Lyall-Brewster. Taken in 1949, the lighting and composition of this portrait link it aesthetically to the pictorial tradition of the majority of photographs in this exhibition.

Women looking at a family allowance poster, Baker Lake (Qamanittuaq), Nunavut, by unknown photographer, Health and Welfare Canada.

Women looking at a family allowance poster, Baker Lake (Qamanittuaq), Nunavut, by unknown photographer, Health and Welfare Canada (Source: MIKAN 3613868, e004665201)

Bella Lyall-Wilcox (left) and Betty Lyall-Brewster, Taloyoak (formerly Spence Bay), Nunavut, by Studio Norman, Health and Welfare Canada.

Bella Lyall-Wilcox (left) and Betty Lyall-Brewster, Taloyoak (formerly Spence Bay), Nunavut, by Studio Norman, Health and Welfare Canada (Source: MIKAN 3613832, e004665165)

The Arctic Images from the Turn of the Twentieth Century exhibition opened on March 14, 2014, and will continue until September 1, 2014, at the National Gallery of Canada. For more information about LAC’s photographic collections portraying Inuit and the Arctic, visit our Project Naming web page.

Did Your Ancestors Come From Ireland (Eire)?

Originally posted on Library and Archives Canada Blog:

Do you wonder who your first Irish ancestor was and when he or she left Ireland and arrived in Canada? Are you curious about your family’s Irish heritage?

If so, the LAC website is a great place to begin your research. For instance, you will find a page specific to genealogical research for the Irish. It provides you with historical background, LAC’s archival collections and published material, as well as links to other websites and institutions.

If you know your Irish ancestor came to Canada before 1865, the following three databases are great starting points for your research:

If your ancestor came to Canada between 1865 and 1935, you might find his or her name on passenger lists.

Tracing your Irish ancestor in Canada is the first step. Tracing your ancestor in…

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John Nash – The First RCMP Constable to Die in the Line of Duty

John Nash has the tragic distinction of being the first member of the North West Mounted Police (now Royal Canadian Mounted Police) to die in the line of duty. He is one of the original members who made the trek westward over land in 1874 from Fort Dufferin, Manitoba to present-day southern Alberta.

Fort MacLeod, Alberta, Canada. September 4, 1898.

Fort MacLeod, Alberta, Canada. September 4, 1898. Source

The details of his death near Fort MacLeod in the Northwest Territories remain a mystery as most of his service records were lost in the 1897 fire that damaged the West Block of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. What little is known about Nash comes in a document held at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police headquarters. It confirms that Nash was born in 1849, that he joined the force in Halifax in 1873, that he was nominated to the Honour Roll, and that his death was related to an accident involving his horse.

His final resting place is where he perished, Fort MacLeod (now part of Alberta), in Union Cemetery, in the North West Mounted Police Field of Honour, row 5, grave number 24.

 Fort MacLeod, Alberta, Canada. 1881.

Fort MacLeod, Alberta, Canada. 1881. Source

Library and Archives Canada has two useful resources available to the public for research and gathering background history on early members of Canada’s famed police force:

To further your research you may wish to consult the following:

See also:

Newly digitized microfilms on the Héritage portal

The following is a list of digitized microfilms that have been recently added to the Héritage website. Please note that although the titles have been translated, the records are still in the language of origin.

  • 1891 census return for the City of Victoria
  • Abraham Heaps fonds
  • Alexander Henry the Younger fonds
  • Alexander Mackenzie fonds
  • Archibald Hayes Macdonell fonds
  • Archibald McMillan and family fonds
  • Banff National Park: Office of the Superintendent, 1893-1910
  • British Military and Naval Records. Admiralty Records
  • Cairine Reay Wilson fonds
  • Canada: Governor General’s Office, Internal Letterbooks, Upper Canada to and from Treasury
  • Canada East: Provincial Secretary numbered correspondence files, 1839-1867
  • Canada West: Provincial Secretary, numbered correspondence files, 1844 to 1867
  • Canadian Labour Congress fonds
  • Canadian Lutheran World Relief fonds
  • Canadian Related Documents from the Glynn R. de V. Barratt collection
  • Central Experimental Farm records
  • Charles E. Goad Company fonds
  • Charles Napier Bell fonds
  • Church Missionary Society fonds
  • Civil Secretary and Provincial Secretary, applications for licences, bonds and certificates. Quebec, Lower Canada and Canada East
  • Civil Secretary, appointments to offices. Upper Canada and Canada West
  • Civil Secretary’s letter books
  • Colonial Office: Colonies general original correspondence
  • Delancey-Robinson collection
  • Department of Agriculture fonds
  • Edgar Dewdney fonds
  • Edmund John Senkler fonds
  • Finnish Language Newspapers and Serial Publications
  • Fisheries Branch Registry files
  • Fonds des Archives départementales de la Charente-Maritime [La Rochelle, France] [Departmental archives of Charente-Maritime fonds [La Rochelle, France]]
  • Fonds de la famille Armand Lavergne [Armand Lavergne and family fonds]
  • Fonds de la famille Chartier de Lotbinière [Chartier de Lotbinière family fonds]
  • Fonds Marie de l’Incarnation [Marie de l'Incarnation Fonds]
  • Fonds Roger Comeau [Roger Comeau fonds]
  • France, colonial fonds, general correspondences
  • France, colonial administration, letters sent
  • France. Fonds des Archives nationales [France. National Archives fonds]
  • George Stephen, 1st Baron Mount Stephen fonds
  • Hamnett Kirkes Pinhey and family collection
  • Henry Wolsey Bayfield fonds
  • Home Bank of Canada fonds
  • Homestead grant registers
  • Index to Passenger Lists, 1900-1908
  • International Council of Women fonds
  • J. S. Woodsworth fonds
  • Jacques-Henri Fabien collection
  • James Bissett fonds
  • James Kempt fonds
  • John Bennet Marks fonds
  • John By and estate fonds
  • John Davis Barnett fonds
  • Jonathan Sewell and family fonds
  • Journal de Jean-Baptiste Minet, l’ingénieur et cartographe Minet, écrit en 1684 et 1685, racontant les explorations de René-Robert Cavelier de La Salle au Mississipi et dans le golfe du Mexique [Journal kept by Jean-Baptiste Minet, engineer and cartographer, written in 1684 and 1685, recalling his explorations]
  • Journals kept by Augustus R. Peers at Peel River, 1847-1853, with accounts for 1848 and 1851-1852
  • Kipling collection
  • Land documents concerning Quebec, Upper and Lower Canada, Canada East and Canada West and Canada
  • Land petitions and related records of the Executive Council
  • Lawrence Montague Lande collection
  • Likacheff-Ragosine-Mathers collection index
  • Louis-Philippe Brodeur fonds
  • Lovat Dickson fonds
  • Martha Field and Fanny Simpson and family fonds
  • Mather Byles Jr. and family fonds
  • McGinnis Family fonds
  • Militia and Defence
  • Minutes and records of the Land Boards accumulated by the Executive Council Office
  • Miscellaneous registers, Province of Canada and Canada, 1850-1953
  • Montreal Amateur Athletic Association fonds
  • Newton McFaul MacTavish fonds
  • Newton Wesley Rowell fonds
  • Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Sessional Papers
  • Orders in Council of the Executive Council of the Province of Canada
  • Parish registers: Newfoundland, Labrador and Nova Scotia
  • Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Prime Minister, indexes to his correspondence
  • Collection de la famille Philippe Aubert de Gaspé [Philippe Aubert de Gaspé and family collection]
  • Princess Sophia Inquiry
  • Privy Council Office, Orders in Council: Minutes, annexes and reports
  • “Put by” Submissions to the Executive Council, of the Province of Canada, 1841-1873
  • Records of the Board of Railway Commissioners
  • Registrar of Shipping: St. John’s [Newfoundland], Arichat, Annapolis Royal, Barrington Passage, Digby, Halifax, Liverpool, Lunenburg, Parrsboro, Shelburne, Windsor, Yarmouth [Nova Scotia], Charlottetown [Prince Edward Island], Montréal [Québec], Port Burwell and Toronto [Ontario], Vancouver and Victoria [British Columbia]
  • Robert Prescott fonds
  • Robert Stanfield: card index to the Leader of the Opposition series and to unorganized portions of the collection
  • Royal Caledonian Curling Club, Canadian branch fonds
  • Royal Commission on Taxation fonds
  • Royal Newfoundland Regiment service files
  • Shawinigan Chemicals Limited fonds
  • Stanier family fonds
  • Superintendent of Indian Affairs in the Northern District of North America fonds
  • Thomas Wardlaw Taylor fonds
  • Trades and Labor Congress of Canada
  • United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel fonds
  • Upper Canada and Canada West: Returns of Population and Assessment
  • W. J. (Bill) Miller collection
  • War Cabinet Committee, 1938-1945
  • War diaries
  • War of 1812 pension records
  • Wesley N. Fujiwara fonds
  • William Buck fonds
  • William Dow and family fonds
  • William Hillary Clarke, MP fonds
  • William Lyon Mackenzie King: Family papers

Immigration and Citizenship records at LAC: Did your ancestor arrive in Canada between 1865 and 1935?

This second article of a series depicting Immigration and Citizenship sources held at Library and Archives Canada (LAC), explains how to find arrivals between 1865 and 1935. Passenger lists reveal details such as the country your ancestor came from, his or her occupation and the intended destination in Canada.

Key resources*:

The Passenger Lists for the Port of Quebec City (1865-1900) database provides 967,017 references to names found on this list. As an example, Laura Muntz Lyall, the Canadian artist who painted Interesting Story, arrived in Canada from England in 1870. A search in the database yields a reference and a link to the image for the arrival of  Laura Muntz and her family on 27 June 1870 aboard the SS Scandinavian.

Arrivals in Canada are also found in the Passenger Lists, 1865-1922 database where documents can be searched by name of ship, date, and place of arrival.

From 1919 to 1924, a form for individuals called Form 30A was used instead of the large sheet manifests of all passengers on a ship. The microfilms of these records have been digitized and can be consulted online. First locate the number of the microfilm, then consult the digitized microfilms of Ocean Arrivals, Form 30a, 1919-1924.

For ancestors who arrived between 1925 and 1935, you first consult the Passenger Lists and Border Entries, 1925-1935 database. As an example, let’s search for Johannes Nisula. He arrived aboard the Montrose at Quebec City on May 26, 1926. Click on “Search” in the left menu, type in his information, and click the “Submit” button. Looking at the result, it’s important to note all the details: name, ship, port of arrival, the volume, page number (189), and microfilm reel number (T-14722). Then navigate to the microform digitization page, select “Passenger Lists: Quebec City (1925-1935)” and click on the reel number (T-14722). Page number refers to the paper sheets, so you will have to look for the page number in the top right of the image. In our example, page 189 of the pages appears on page 335 of the microfilm.

There are also immigration documents for the home children that were sent to Canada during the child emigration movement. The name index of home children was compiled by the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa  and was created from the passenger lists held by LAC.

Also discover these two podcasts that focus on immigration:

For arrivals after 1935, records of immigrants remain in the custody of Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

*Note: Don’t forget that the Search Help page of a database is the best place to find out how the records are arranged.

Insight into Library and Archives Canada’s collection: interview with photographer Martin Weinhold

Recently, the Library and Archives Canada Discover Blog had a chance to interview documentary photographer Martin Weinhold about some of his photographs of Canadians at work, held in Library and Archives Canada’s collection.

Kenwyn Bertrand, I, worker.

Kenwyn Bertrand, I, worker. MIKAN 3842771, e010934568

  1. These photographs are part of a larger series. In just a few words, please tell us what series this is and what inspired it?
  2. The photographs are part of the “WorkSpace Canada” collection, a long-term project that still is a work in progress. The project’s goal is a general description of the world of work in Canada in the early 21st century; a kind of visual inventory centred around the human aspect of labour, work and action. The idea for this photographic documentary was triggered in 2005 when I read Hannah Arendt’s book “The Human Condition.”

    Kenwyn Bertrand, II, worker.

    Kenwyn Bertrand, II, worker. MIKAN 3842782, e010934567

  3. Please tell us why you chose to take three different photographs of the same subject?
  4. I wanted to introduce Kenwyn Bertrand, a worker at a car shredder yard in Hamilton, Ontario, with a threefold approach: giving the viewer a notion of the work environment and the activity happening there, as well as showing a facet of his individual personality. This pattern is the general approach for the “WorkSpace Canada” series.

    When I came to the car shredder yard I had a kind of production schedule already in mind. From previous visits and observations I knew the so-called picking shacks were one part of the operation, and I knew they were a must in the overall description of the place. I wanted to visually translate what it was like being on shift there. Kenwyn and I discussed what would be important for me to photograph and what wouldn’t. For Kenwyn, being at his workplace meant this repeated waiting for the copper parts among the rubbish on the conveyor belt—the whole reason his job existed. Then there was the locker room, the place where every shift began and ended. And the only possible place for a portrait. Although for privacy we had to wait until every worker from Kenwyn’s shift had left.

    Kenwyn Bertrand, III, worker.

    Kenwyn Bertrand, III, worker. MIKAN 3842786, e010934566

  5. How can we tell that these are Martin Weinhold photographs?
  6. I think—I hope—the intensity of my dealing with the subject can be seen. I try to establish an intense relationship with every person I photograph. Time is the crucial precondition for that. Time is the luxury I insist on having with my documentary work. If the viewer can read the intensity in my photographs and see it as typical for a Martin Weinhold photograph—that would make me very happy.

To be the best on snow and ice: Documenting Canada’s achievements at the Olympics

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:

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:

Canada's Nancy Greene (top) celebrates her gold medal win in the giant slalom alpine ski event at the 1968 Grenoble winter Olympics. (CP Photo/COA).

Canada’s Nancy Greene (top) celebrates her gold medal win in the giant slalom alpine ski event at the 1968 Grenoble winter Olympics. (CP Photo/COA). Source

Canada's Marc Gagnon competes in the speed skating event at the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics. (CP PHOTO/ COA).

Canada’s Marc Gagnon competes in the speed skating event at the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics. (CP PHOTO/ COA). Source

See also:

  • 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!

The nicknames and “dit names” of French-Canadian ancestors

In France, nicknames were added to surnames to distinguish between families with similar names living in the same geographical area. When immigrants coming from France settled in New France, this custom continued. Some immigrants, mostly soldiers, already had an alias or a “dit name” when they arrived while others acquired a “dit name” after they settled in New France.

How were “dit names” created?
“Dit names” were created by taking a person’s family name, adding a nickname that described one of the individual’s unique characteristics, and connecting the two with the word “dit,” for example, Miville dit Deschênes.

These nicknames were based on the following:

  • physical characteristics (Le Fort, Le Roux);
  • moral characteristics (Le Bon, Le Sage);
  • trades (Le Boucher);
  • places of origin, including country, province, city, town, village (le Picard, Le Normand);
  • places of residence (Du Val, Du Puis);
  • first names of ancestors (Deblois dit Grégoire, Fasche dit Robert);
  • actions (Ladébauche, Ladéroute).

Until around the 1850s, both surnames and “dit names” were used in records. After that time, only one of the two names was used.

Lists of “dit names” and their associated surnames can be found in the publications and websites that follow:

  • Dictionnaire généalogique des familles canadiennes depuis la fondation de la colonie jusqu’à nos jours (AMICUS 21710319) by Cyprien Tanguay, volume 7 (also available online on the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec website);
  • Dictionnaire des familles du Québec, (AMICUS 3994211) by René Jetté;
  • Répertoire des noms de famille du Québec, des origines à 1825 by René Jetté and Micheline Lécuyer (AMICUS 8402862).

Other relevant websites

Conduct your own research using AMICUS
Do your own search for “dit names” in AMICUS by title or subject using terms such as “name,” “family name” and “France.”