Patrolling the French Shore with Louis Koenig

Newfoundland in the summer, completely inaccessible because of its winged garrison. Library and Archives Canada. (Source)

Did you know that thanks to the collection of Library and Archives Canada (LAC) it is possible to patrol the French Shore of the island of Newfoundland with Lieutenant Louis Koenig and discover this particular area where the French had cod fishing rights for almost 200 years, because of two treaties signed between France and England? Accompany Koenig and the crew of the French frigate La Clorinde during a campaign that brought them to Newfoundland, Cape Breton Island and Saint-Pierre and Miquelon in 1885.

Recognized by the French Navy for his artistic talents, Koenig created the 145 drawings and watercolours, the hand-drawn maps and the logbook, which are found in the Louis Koenig fonds and Louis Koenig Collection. The illustrations, most of which were done on site, show the landscapes and military installations he observed, as well as daily activities on board La Clorinde. The maps give three views of the French Shore and include notes by the artist.The logbook, also written by Koenig, documents the voyage, the places visited and gives his candid impressions of his experiences; devoting particular attention to the mosquitoes, which were apparently delighted to welcome the French sailors! The collection also includes a small sketchbook containing an illustrated, much more personal, account of the voyage, full of humour and whimsy presented by Koenig as a gift to La Clorinde’s commander, Félix-Auguste Le Clerc. Koenig also wrote an article Le « French Shore » (souvenirs de campagne à Terre-Neuve) (The “French Shore”, Memoirs of a Newfoundland Campaign), embellished with his maps and illustrations and published in 1890 in the periodical Tour du monde.

To order published documents that are unavailable online, use our online Request for Retrieval of Documents, or call 613-996-5115, or toll-free 1-866-578-7777, to consult them in person at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa.

Enjoy the discoveries and view the Flickr set of images from Koenig’s albums!

Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!

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