Métis Scrip

We are pleased to inform you that more than 24,000 references about money scrip (certificates) given to Métis family members were recently added online. These cancelled land scrip certificates were once issued to the Métis by the Department of the Interior in exchange for the relinquishment of certain land claims. A scrip would be issued “to the bearer” and could be applied to the purchase of, or as a down payment on, any Dominion lands open for entry in Manitoba and the Northwest Territories. These scrip were awarded to Métis heads of families and their children in the amounts of $240, $160 and $80.

How to find references

  1. Go to the search screen for Archives Search—Advanced.
  2. In the drop-down menu, select “Finding aid number” and then in the box, enter 15-24.
  3. Screen capture of an advanced Archives Search with the first drop-down menu showing "Finding aid number" and the value of "15-24" and the second drop-down menu showing "Any Keyword and the value "Riel."

  4. In the next line, select “Any Keyword” and enter a family name, in this case “Riel.”
  5. Click on the “Submit” button.
  6. Screen capture of an Archives Search result screen of the previous search.

You can find more in-depth information about the Métis and the Métis Scrip records on the Library and Archives Canada website.

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 (MIKAN 3264747)

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 (MIKAN 3264747)

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 (MIKAN 3376416)

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

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 (MIKAN 3376543)

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

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 (MIKAN 3613868)

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

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

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

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.

Aboriginal Heritage Portal

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is pleased to announce updates to the Aboriginal Heritage portal. Representing Canada’s three Aboriginal groups: the First Nations, Métis and Inuit, the portal offers material organized by cultural group and subject, as well as resources for Indian residential school research.

Whether you are a first-time or experienced researcher, the portal will be the starting point for anyone interested in Aboriginal Heritage. It offers a wealth of resources held by LAC, ranging from archival and published materials, to research guides, tools and databases. These resources include existing material, such as the Indian Affairs Annual Reports, 1864-1990, as well as a new resource called the Guide to the Indian and Northern Affairs Canada “File History Cards, 1872-1984″.

Over the coming months, new research tools will be added to the portal as they become available.

Where art and history meet: exhibitions of historical photographs at the National Gallery of Canada

What happens when the practical also has a poetic side?

In recent months, visitors to the National Gallery of Canada have had a chance to explore the answer to this question. A series of small exhibitions of historical photographs, drawn from Library and Archives Canada’s collection, considers the aesthetic, as well as the documentary properties of images created “on-the-job” by 19th-century surveyors, public servants and engineers.

In the heart of the Rocky Mountains: A snowstorm, by Charles Horetzky

In the heart of the Rocky Mountains: A snowstorm, by Charles Horetzky (Source: MIKAN 3264251, e011067226)

At first glance, this beautiful photograph, which was part of the past exhibition Early Exploration Photographs in Canada, seem to be exactly as labelled — a view of the Peace River in British Columbia, as it appeared during a snowstorm in October 1872. It turns out, however, that Charles Horetzky, official photographer with Sir Sandford Fleming’s Canadian Pacific Railway survey team, deliberately enhanced its dramatic effect: paint splatters were added to the image in order to create the effect of non-existent snow.

The current exhibition, Paul-Émile Miot: Early Photographs of Newfoundland, on view until February 2, 2014, includes this portrait from the 1800s, by French naval officer Paul-Émile Miot.

Mi’kmaq man, by Paul-Émile Miot

Mi’kmaq man, by Paul-Émile Miot (Source: MIKAN: 3535989, e011076347)

It was taken while surveying and mapping the coastal areas of Newfoundland — at the time, France maintained a commercial fishing interest in these waters. Though Miot was capturing the earliest known photographs of members of the Mi’kmaq Nation, the extravagant pose of his subject suggests 19th-century European romanticism.

So-called inaccuracies or created effects in 19th-century documentary photographs do not negate the worth of these images as records of past events. If anything, they add fascinating nuances of meaning to these items, as artifacts.

We invite you to stay tuned for the next exhibition, on Arctic exploration photography, opening on February 7, 2014.

About Face: Library and Archives Canada portrait exhibition at Queen’s Park

Three original works of art and over 30 high-quality reproductions from the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) portrait collection are on display in the Lieutenant Governor’s Suite at Queen’s Park in Toronto until March 31, 2014. The portraits are part of About Face: Celebrated Ontarians Then and Now, an exhibition developed by the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario in collaboration with LAC. These historical and modern portraits represent men and women from a wide range of cultural backgrounds and walks of life, who helped shape the Ontario of today.

This rare portrait of Maun-gua-daus, for example, is one of the earliest photographs of an aboriginal person in LAC’s collection. A member of the Ojibway nation, Maun-gua-daus was educated by Methodist missionaries and served as a mission worker and interpreter in Upper Canada (now Ontario). From 1845 to 1848, he took part in a tour of England, France and Belgium, demonstrating the ritual, dance and sport found in Ojibway culture. This photograph was probably taken during that tour, in about 1846. It was made using the daguerreotype process, the first method widely used for producing photographic images.

Maun-gua-daus (or Maun-gwa-daus), alias George Henry, original chief of the Ojibway nation of Credit (Upper Canada)

Maun-gua-daus (or Maun-gwa-daus), alias George Henry, original chief of the Ojibway nation of Credit (Upper Canada) (Source: MIKAN 3198805)

An iconic portrait of figure skater Barbara Ann Scott was taken in 1946 by another notable Ontarian, Yousuf Karsh. At the time, the young lady from Ottawa was a Canadian national champion, but had yet to win a European championship and a world figure-skating title. Scott became “Canada’s sweetheart” and Olympic gold-medal champion in 1948, at the age of 19. In this photograph, Karsh frames the skater’s youthful face in what appears to be a saintly halo.

Barbara Ann Scott

Barbara Ann Scott (Source: MIKAN 3192044)

Come see for yourself! Contact the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Queen’s Park to arrange a viewing of the exhibition.

Contributions of Aboriginal Peoples in the First World War (1914–1918)

Aboriginal peoples have a long tradition of military service in Canada dating back several centuries. Although not legally required to participate in the war, an estimated 4,000 Status Indians, and an unrecorded number of Métis and Inuit enlisted voluntarily and served with the Canadian Corps in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF).

Almost all of the young men on many reserves enlisted for service. For example, approximately half of the eligible Mi’kmaq and Maliseet from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia volunteered for overseas duty. In other provinces, the number was even higher. In the small Saskatchewan community of File Hills, nearly all of the eligible men signed up to fight.

Postcard image of Aboriginal men from File Hills, Saskatchewan, who joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force

A number of Aboriginal men who served in the CEF became snipers or scouts. Private Henry Norwest, a Métis from Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, was one of the most famous snipers. Another proficient sniper was Corporal Francis Pegahmagabow, an Ojibwa from Parry Island Band, near Parry Sound, Ontario. Three-time recipient of the British Military Medal and two bars, Corporal Pegahmagabow was the most highly decorated Aboriginal soldier of the First World War. Lieutenant Cameron D. Brant, from the Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve near Brantford, Ontario, enlisted only three days after the Germans declared war on August 4, 1914. He died from poisonous gas during the Second Battle of Ypres, Belgium, in April 1915. Another Aboriginal man who served in the war was Olympic runner Tom Longboat, also from the Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve.

Aboriginal women also made great sacrifices and played significant roles working behind the battle scenes. Nurse Edith Anderson, a Mohawk from the Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve, joined the Army Nurse Corps of the American Expeditionary Forces, and worked at an American hospital base in Vittel, France. Most of her work involved caring for patients who had been shot or gassed.

The exact number of Aboriginal soldiers who lost their lives during the First World War is not known. It is estimated that at least 300 men were killed during battles or died from illness, such as tuberculosis.

Royal Proclamation of 1763

October 7, 2013, marks the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation of 1763, issued by King George III of Britain. With the end of the Seven Years War, Great Britain took possession of all North American territories east of the Mississippi River. The Royal Proclamation was a key legal document for the British to organize and manage their expanded North American empire.

The Royal Proclamation regulated the expansion of the newly ceded colonies of Québec, East Florida, West Florida and Grenada, and stabilized relations with Aboriginal peoples through the regulation of trade, settlement and land purchases on the frontier. It also set a boundary for European settlement, known as the “proclamation line”, along the Appalachian Mountains. Land along rivers flowing into the Atlantic Ocean would be available for European settlers, while territory along rivers flowing into the Mississippi would remain First Nations’ lands. The proclamation line was to be temporary and extend westward in an organized manner.

A new map of the Province of Quebec according to the Royal Proclamation October 7, 1763.

A new map of the Province of Quebec according to the Royal Proclamation October 7, 1763 Source

The Royal Proclamation became the constitutional framework for the negotiation of Indian treaties in British North America. It recognized Aboriginal peoples as autonomous and capable of negotiating agreements with the Crown. The document also acknowledged that First Nations are entitled to continue owning their territories, including hunting and fishing grounds, until they surrendered them to the Crown. The first attempt to enforce the treaty took place north of the Great Lakes and resulted in the Treaty of Fort Niagara on August 1, 1764.

To learn more and to read a full transcription of the Royal Proclamation, consult the web page, 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation of 1763 on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada’s website.