Lieutenant Gordon Muriel Flowerdew, VC

By Emily Monks-Leeson

Today our First World War Centenary: Honouring Canada’s Victoria Cross recipients, remembers Lieutenant Gordon Muriel Flowerdew, who received the Victoria Cross, the Commonwealth’s highest award for gallantry, for his actions at the Battle of Moreuil Wood on this day 100 years ago.

A black-and-white photograph of a soldier taken slightly in profile.

Lieutenant Gordon M. Flowerdew, Victoria Cross recipient (MIKAN 3521609)

Flowerdew was born in Billingford, England, on January 2, 1885. He immigrated to Saskatchewan in 1903 and later settled in British Columbia as a rancher. He enlisted in September 1914 in Lord Strathcona’s Horse, a cavalry brigade, and became a commissioned officer in 1916. By 1918, Flowerdew was Lieutenant (Acting Captain) in command of “C” Squadron of Lord Strathcona’s Horse. Though the cavalry brigades had not engaged in much direct fighting because of the static nature of trench warfare, this changed in the spring of 1918 with the return to rapid, open warfare. On March 30, 1918, the Strathconas were engaged in heavy fighting at Moreuil Wood, France, having been tasked with preventing the Germans from crossing the Avre River and advancing on Amiens.

As German soldiers entered Moreuil Wood, Acting Captain Flowerdew spotted two lines of German infantry positions supported by machine guns. He ordered a cavalry charge. His squadron passed over both German lines, attacking with their swords, and then turned and passed over the lines again, driving the defending German soldiers into retreat. According to Flowerdew’s Victoria Cross citation, by then the squadron had suffered 70 percent casualties, killed and wounded, and Acting Captain Flowerdew was badly wounded in both thighs. Nonetheless, Flowerdew continued to encourage his men, ordering them to dismount.

Through hand-to-hand fighting, the survivors managed to hold the previously occupied German positions until a unit led by Lieutenant Frederick Maurice Watson Harvey joined them. Harvey had received the VC in 1917 for his role in the attack on German positions at the Guyencourt, France. Flowerdew and his men prevented the capture of Moreuil Wood and denied the advancing German army a strategically important position.

A handwritten description of the day’s actions in combat.

Lord Strathcona’s Horse war diary page with a description of Flowerdew’s actions of the day, Page 422 (MIKAN 2004721)

Lieutenant Gordon Muriel Flowerdew died of his wounds on March 31, 1918. He is buried at Namps-au-Val British Cemetery in France. Library and Archives Canada holds Lieutenant Gordon Muriel Flowerdew’s digitized service file.

Emily Monks-Leeson is an archivist in Digital Operations at Library and Archives Canada.

New podcast! Check out our latest episode, “Gratien Gélinas: One of Our Own.

Our latest podcast episode is now available. Check out “Gratien Gélinas: One of Our Own.
Black-and-white photo of Gratien Gélinas, with his head in his hands, holding a cigarette.Gratien Gélinas is considered one of the founders of modern Canadian theatre and film. He was a playwright, director, actor, filmmaker and administrator of cultural organizations. His personifications of the common man paved the way for many of Quebec’s leading scriptwriters, and he gave a voice, at home and abroad, to French Canada’s culture and society. On today’s episode, we travel to Saint-Bruno, near Montréal, to speak with Anne-Marie Sicotte, granddaughter of Gratien Gélinas, who tells us about his life and legacy.

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A Little History: the Hidden Stories of Children—an exhibition at the Canadian Museum of History

Too often the experiences, stories and contributions of children are romanticized, overlooked, or entirely absent from our history books. As is often the case, the least powerful in society leave little trace of their lives. Those childhoods that were documented and preserved can be quite telling.

The exhibition, A Little History: the Hidden Stories of Children, at the Canadian Museum of History presents rarely seen archival documents, photographs, works of art and artifacts from the collections of both the Canadian Museum of History and Library and Archives Canada. The exhibition recounts the unique experiences of children found in archival documents.

Children are rarely the authors of their own histories. Fragments of their stories lie within the materials that adults produce—from formal portraits found in family collections to documents in government and institutional records. These traces of their experiences help reveal the attitudes of adults toward them and the impact of laws and policies on them throughout history.

An oil painting of two young girls dressed in identical red dresses with lace around the neckline and red necklaces. One of them holds a small dog.

Céline and Rosalvina Pelletier, attributed to James Bowman, ca. 1838, oil on canvas (MIKAN 2837219)

Before the advent of photography, painted portraits were the only visual records of individuals. The absence of portraits of poor children demonstrates how this type of art was exclusive to the affluent. This portrait of the Pelletier sisters reflects their wealth and status. Depicted as little adults, the girls are dressed stiffly, holding a miniature dachshund (a symbol of fidelity), and wearing coral necklaces, which were believed to ward off childhood diseases.

A black-and-white studio photograph of three children. One is sitting in a chair and the two others stand beside.

The Children We Seek to Help, photographer unknown, ca. 1900, silver gelatin print. (MIKAN 3351178)

Institutional records are a key source of information about children. The “child-saving” era of the late 19th century saw the creation of a number of child welfare organizations, such as the Children’s Aid Society. These charities sought to help poor, abandoned and neglected children by operating orphanages and training schools, and providing adoption services. Child-rescue workers used photography to both document and promote their work, often invoking contradictory images to draw attention to their cause by portraying children as both innocent victims and criminals in training.

When viewing the past through adult eyes, the role and presence of children is sometimes obscured. But children were also involved in or felt the impact of significant events in Canadian history.

A black-and-white studio photograph of two children leaning against a side table, each with a hand on a cheek.

Jean-Louis and Marie-Angélique Riel, ca. 1888, by Steele & Wing, albumen print (MIKAN 3195233)

Jean-Louis and Marie-Angélique were born in Montana during the political exile of their father and Métis leader, Louis Riel for his role in the 1870 Red River Resistance. After their father’s execution in 1885, Marie-Angélique went to live with an uncle in Winnipeg, where she died of tuberculosis in 1896. Jean-Louis took his mother’s family name, moved to Montréal, and later died at the age of 25 in a horse-and-cart accident.

A handwritten letter from Louis Riel to his wife and children.

Letter from Louis Riel to his wife and children, dated November 16, 1885, ink on paper (MIKAN 126629)

This last letter from Louis Riel to his wife and children offers a private view of the Métis leader. Written on November 16, 1885, the day of his hanging in Regina, Riel speaks of his children, asks his wife to “have them pray for me” [translation] and ends his letter with “Take courage. Bless you. Your father, Louis ‘David’ Riel.” [translation].

Items created by children are often ephemeral and seldom preserved in collections. Those that have been preserved can be challenging to find as they are frequently subsumed within the broader histories and heritage of their families and communities and are rarely catalogued as being child-made. For these reasons, it is easiest to find material created by children who grew up to be important adults or were related to a famous adult.

The handwritten diary of Sandford Fleming, open and showing his writings.

Diary of Sandford Fleming, 1843, pencil and paper (MIKAN 4938908)

This diary, kept by 16-year-old Sandford Fleming, seems to foretell his later success as an engineer and inventor. Filled with architectural plans, scientific formulas, and inventions, the diary exemplifies Fleming’s industriousness.

Children’s letters and diaries provide a rare glimpse into their private worlds, revealing their unique ways of speaking, thinking and interpreting the world around them. Intimate, candid, and sometimes whimsical, the diaries, letters and drawings created by children invite us to see history with fresh eyes.

A black-and-white studio portrait of a young man in uniform, with arms crossed.

Portrait of Arthur Wendell Phillips Lawson, photographer unknown, 1918, matt collodion print (MIKAN 187937)

A handwritten diary with boxes on each date that includes the scores of the World Series games.

Diary of Arthur Wendell Phillips Lawson, 1914, ink, paper, and leather (MIKAN 129683)

This diary of 16-year-old Arthur Lawson invites us to understand his childhood sense of self and the world around him. Written at the beginning of the First World War, Lawson’s headlines about the battles raging overseas seem casually inserted alongside mundane notes about the weather, family events (like his brother’s birthday) and the scores of the 1914 World Series between the Boston Braves and the Philadelphia Athletics. Before the war was over, Lawson enlisted.

For more examples of these intriguing stories, visit A Little History: the Hidden Stories of Children on display in the Treasures from Library and Archives Canada gallery at the Canadian Museum of History from March 30, 2018 to January 27, 2019.

The Treasure Trove of a Great Performer: The Gratien Gélinas Fonds

By Théo Martin

It took Library and Archives Canada (LAC) over 20 years to acquire the archives of Canadian theatre great and creator Gratien Gélinas. Between 1973 and 1997, many national archivists and archivists at the National Archives of Canada worked hard to convince Gélinas to donate his documents. Active to the end of his life, he simply never had the time to focus his full attention on donating his archives.

Through one of his sons, Michel Gélinas, the National Archives of Canada finally acquired the documents in the Gratien Gélinas fonds in 1997, two years before the artist’s death. Thanks to a family member’s initial work in sorting Gélinas’s archives, the documents were already arranged in an organized, logical order when LAC received them, making them all the easier for researchers to consult. LAC archivists performed the final task of processing, describing and detailing conditions governing access between 1999 and 2004.

Black-and-white photograph of a man dressed in a suit, with his arms folded and his left hand resting on his cheek, smiling and looking up to his left.

Portrait of Gratien Gélinas by Yousuf Karsh, 1942. Credit: Yousuf Karsh (MIKAN 3591652)

Black-and-white composite photograph showing Gratien Gélinas’s expressive hands in various poses. The bottom of the image shows a man looking up at his hands crossed over his head.

Gratien Gélinas by Yousuf Karsh, March 29, 1945. Credit: Yousuf Karsh (MIKAN 3916385)

The Gélinas fonds contains 16 series on different aspects of Gratien Gélinas’s career and personal life.

For example, it contains a series on his literary works comprising several metres of handwritten text or typed manuscripts. It also includes scripts from radio broadcasts written by Gélinas that entertained a generation of French-speaking Canadians in the 1930s, like Carrousel de la gaieté or Train de plaisir, which aired on CKAC and Radio-Canada and eventually gave rise to his trademark character, Fridolin. Fridolin would later become the central character in the Fridolinons, an annual review produced by Gélinas and his team between 1938 and 1946 (and later 1956) at the Monument National, in Montreal.

Black-and-white photograph showing a man dressed as a boy in short pants with suspenders, a sweater and a cap, sitting on a chair with his legs extended out in front of him.

Gratien Gélinas playing Fridolin in a scene from “Fridolinons,” March 1945. Photo: Ronny Jacques for the National Film Board (MIKAN 4318078)

The fonds contains manuscripts of seminal theatrical works by Gratien Gélinas: Tit-Coq; Bousille et les justes; Hier, les enfants dansaient; and La passion de Narcisse Mondoux, his last dramatic creation, written in 1985 essentially for himself and actor Huguette Oligny whose archives are also at LAC.

In addition, entire files of notebooks and annotated drafts perfectly illustrate how Gélinas developed and wrote his plays. They show the additions, deletions, impressions and scribbles of an artist constantly creating and questioning himself.

A personal note handwritten in French. [Translation] “I have to get my life organized in the next few months so that everything I do, say and think is centred on this ultimate, magnificent goal. A play that will be the best thing I’ve ever done.”

“Tit-Coq”—personal notes made during the writing process, around 1946–1947 (MIKAN 2402016)

Because Gratien Gélinas usually produced and directed his own plays, he also accumulated many written documents that map his creative process. Researchers can explore not only his production records but also different versions of texts adapted from his plays for film, radio and television, along with English translations.

The fonds contains a large amount of multimedia materials, including extremely rare films, and very early Canadian short films like La dame aux camélias, la vraie (produced by Gélinas in 1942) and the feature-length Tit-Coq (produced in 1953). Incidentally, LAC has managed to convert most of the films in the fonds to digital format. Also included are a number of sound recordings dating as far back as the 1930s, with reviews, radio programs and shows produced by Gratien Gélinas. The fonds is a true treasure trove of information for any researcher interested in Canadian theatre and film.

Black-and-white photograph of a film scene showing various people gathered around a camera.

Filming of Tit-Coq, around 1952–1953 (MIKAN 3919038)

Added to this body of work are over 4,000 photographs, some of which document Gélinas’s early days in radio and on stage as well as all the theatre productions he participated in during a career spanning more than 60 years. Specifically, the fonds contains stunning photos by the National Film Board of Gratien playing Fridolin in 1945, other beautiful shots of him at the Stratford Festival in the 1950s and multiple photos from his private life and personal universe.

Equally remarkable about the Gélinas fonds are its visual arts materials: costume drawings and watercolours, set mock-ups, publicity drawings and collages that add a vibrancy and a visual element to the fonds as a whole. It becomes clear just how extensively Gélinas surrounded himself with many artists to produce and promote his performances throughout his career. We need simply consider the colourful, image-rich drawing by Robert LaPalme used as a set mock-up for Fridolinons ’45.

Brightly coloured painting of stylized figures and various objects.

“Bon voyage” by Robert LaPalme, for Fridolinons ’45 (MIKAN 3926980)

A watercolour depicting a stylized silhouette of a man smoking a cigarette.

“Tit-Coq” drawing mock-up by Robert LaPalme. Original drawing used for the play’s poster and program (MIKAN 3010586)

Many other documents also illustrate his career in Canadian arts and culture. Engagement contracts, correspondence and various promotional documents are also part of the fonds. Other papers relate to his work as an arts and cultural activist, including his involvement in the Union des artistes, or his career as a director of cultural institutions, such as La Comédie-Canadienne, which he founded in 1957, and the Canadian Film Development Corporation, which he chaired starting in 1969.

Adding special interest to this fonds are the documents related to his personal life. We discover a more intimate side of the multi-talented artist: notebooks, travel logs, various correspondence, photographs and works of art that offer a deeper insight into the person and his relationships with family and friends. In addition to correspondence with his family are a number of letters to or from figures from the world of arts or politics, such as Jean-Louis Roux, Lionel Daunais, Émile Legault, Jean Despréz, Robert LaPalme, Jean Drapeau and more.

Finally, we should mention that LAC also owns the fonds of Gratien Gélinas’s granddaughter, novelist Anne-Marie Sicotte, who wrote several biographies on Gélinas (La ferveur et le doute – Éditions Québec/Amérique 1995–1996; Gratien Gélinas, Naïve de Naïve Fridolin – XYZ Publisher, 2001), based in particular on archives in LAC’s possession. During her research, Sicotte not only transcribed various archival documents but also produced several audio recordings and transcripts of interviews with her grandfather.

The Gratien Gélinas fonds (and the related fonds conserved by LAC) portrays the life and work of a pioneer of Canadian theatre and broadcasting. It represents a veritable treasure trove of rich and varied documents accumulated over the lifetime of an unsurpassed artist and creator. This documentary jewel conserved by LAC awaits discovery and rediscovery by researchers and devotees of the performing arts from Canada and abroad.

Related resources

Théo Martin is an archivist in the Literature, Music and Performing Arts Archives Section at Library and Archives Canada.

Lieutenant Alan Arnett McLeod, VC

By Emily Monks-Leeson

In today’s profile for Library and Archives Canada’s blog series, First World War Centenary: Honouring Canada’s Victoria Cross Recipients, we remember Lieutenant Alan Arnett McLeod who was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry.

Born in Stonewall, Manitoba, in 1899, McLeod attempted to enroll in the 34th Fort Garry Horse in 1913, at the age of 14 despite being underage. After war was declared, he tried several times to enlist in the army in Winnipeg and again in the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) in Toronto, but was repeatedly rejected. Upon turning 18, he enrolled in the RFC and trained as a pilot in Long Branch, Ontario. He graduated with 50 hours of flying experience and left for service in France on August 20, 1917.

A black-and-white photograph of a seated officer posing for an official portrait. He holds his gloves in one hand and a baton in the other.

Lieutenant Alan Arnett McLeod, VC, of No. 51 and 2 Squadrons RAF. (© Imperial War Museums, Q-67601)

Originally posted to No. 82 Squadron, McLeod was assigned to home defence duties flying nighttime runs in a B.E.12 after his commander found out he was only 18 years old. His first operational flight took place in December 1917 with No. 2 Squadron over Hesdigneul, France. By January 1918, McLeod and his gunner had claimed one Fokker Dr.I and an observation balloon destroyed, an act for which McLeod was mentioned in despatches.

On March 27, 1918, Second-Lieutenant McLeod and his observer Lieutenant Arthur Hammond were in an Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8 over Albert, France. They destroyed a German triplane and were immediately attacked by a formation of eight more. McLeod and Hammond shot down three German aircraft before the petrol tank of their aircraft was hit and burst into flames. McLeod tried to keep the flames away from his observer by side slipping steeply as the plane went down, all the while continuing to fire on the enemy planes. When the plane crashed in “no man’s land,” an injured McLeod dragged Hammond from the burning plane and carried him to safety under heavy fire. Both men were gravely injured but survived. Lieutenant Hammond, wounded six times, ultimately lost his leg and was awarded a bar for his Military Cross.

A black-and-white photograph of a smiling young man lying in bed.

Lieutenant Alan Arnett McLeod, VC, 1918 (MIKAN 3219066)

Lieutenant Alan Arnett McLeod received the Victoria Cross for his actions that day. After a period in hospital, he was sent back to Canada for further recovery. He died on November 6, 1918, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, from Spanish Influenza. McLeod Street in Stonewall, Manitoba, is named in his honour.

Library and Archives Canada does not hold the service record for Lieutenant Alan Arnett McLeod, VC. Men wishing to enlist in the air service joined the Royal Flying Corps, the Royal Air Force (RAF) or the Royal Naval Air Service. Personnel files for those British units are in the custody of the National Archives in England.

Emily Monks-Leeson is an archivist in Digital Operations at Library and Archives Canada.

Images of Tintype Photographs now on Flickr

Dates of major use: 1855-1860s

A framed black-and-white photograph of five women, a baby, a man and a dog on a porch posing for a family portrait.

Group of five women, a baby, a man and a dog on a porch. (MIKAN 4955139)

Inventor: Adolphe-Alexandre Martin (1853), Hamilton A. Smith (1856)

A black-and-white photograph of three women sitting on the ground posing for a portrait. The women are wearing long dresses, short coats, hats, and are holding books.

Portrait of three women sitting on the floor. (MIKAN 4958586)

A tintype is a monochromatic direct positive image that is formed on a thin metal plate covered with a black varnish. They were often hand-coloured. Tintypes can be presented in paper mounts to be slid into albums or protected in American cases under glass.

A black-and-white photograph of a man sitting, wearing a band uniform and cap with feathers. The man is holding a flugelhorn resting on his left knee.

Portrait of a man wearing a municipal band uniform and holding his flugelhorn. (MIKAN 3511014)

A black-and-white photograph of a mother, three daughters, a son and a dog posing for a family portrait.

Family portrait of a mother, three daughters, a son, and a dog. (MIKAN 3262041)

Visit the Flickr album now!

Big league baseball makes its way north

By Kelly Anne Griffin

Canadians have been playing in various major baseball leagues since the 1870s. The first to do so was New Brunswick native Bill Phillips, who played first base for the Cleveland franchise. In 1883, Ontario native Tip O’Neill, the greatest pre-1900 Canadian player, would make his Major League Baseball (MLB) debut. Since then many have followed suit. The only Canadian to earn his place with a plaque on the walls of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, is Chatham, Ontario, native Ferguson Jenkins. Jenkins had a remarkable pitching career with 284 major league wins.

A black-and-white photograph of a pitcher throwing the ball from the mound. Behind him is a large score board displaying the score and outfielders preparing for the ball to come into play.

Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins pitching for the Chicago Cubs in a game against the Montreal Expos on September 19, 1970. Jenkins is now active in philanthropic work, including the Fergie Jenkins Foundation based out of St. Catharines, Ontario. Credit: Montreal Star (MIKAN 3195251)

While Jenkins is the only Canadian in Cooperstown, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in Saint Marys, Ontario, honours Canadians’ contributions to the game both on and off the field. Canada has also been home to two MLB franchises, starting with the National League expansion in 1968.

The Montreal Expos – Nos Amours

The Expos had an exhilarating first week. At Shea stadium on April 8, 1969, “O Canada” played at an MLB game for the first time, bringing team owner Charles Bronfman to tears and giving rise to “Les Expos, Nos Amours”, the nickname affectionately given to the team by fans. The exciting game ended with an 11 to 10 Expos win over the New York Mets. On April 14, in the first MLB game played outside the US, the Expos won over a packed house of fans at Jarry Park in Montreal. Three days later pitcher Bill Stoneman threw a no-hitter against the Phillies. Montreal was captivated and the wild ride began.

A coloured poster designed for the 1976 Olympic Games. It depicts three different views of the Olympic stadium built for the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.

The Olympic Stadium in Montreal was built for the 1976 Summer Olympics, and the Expos started playing there in 1977. The stadium was problematic as a baseball venue for many reasons, including structural issues with the roof and a thin astroturf that was notouriously hard on players’ knees. Since 2014, the Blue Jays have hosted exhibition games there. © Canadian Olympic Committee (MIKAN 3929420)

Despite an excellent farm system and outstanding talent, the Expos made it to the postseason only once, in 1981. Under the guidance of Canadian Baseball Hall-of-Fame manager Jim Fanning, the ’81 season saw Warren Cromartie, Andre Dawson and Gary Carter all hitting over .300, and Hall of Famer Tim Raines stealing a league-high 71 bases. The season, interrupted by a strike, saw them win the National League East title. They went on to play the Dodgers and came within one win of advancing to the World Series when Rick Monday hit a 9th inning home run securing Dodgers victory. That hit ended the Expos’ run and the fateful day became known as “Blue Monday” to fans.

A black-and-white cartoon showing a line of luxury cars driving in a circle around a baseball stadium. In the cars are characters leaning from the windows and holding signs with slogans, including "Unfair," "We Want Rights" and "Major League On Strike."

An editorial cartoon depicting Expos players on strike outside Olympic stadium in Montreal during the 1981 players’ strike. The strike caused the cancellation of 713 games in the middle of the season. Credit: Rusins Kaufmanis (MIKAN 2841681)

Ironically, a second work stoppage dashed fans’ hopes in 1994. In that magical season, manager Felipe Alou had the Expos sitting on top of the baseball world with a 74 wins and 40 losses record. The 232-day strike resulted in commissioner Bud Selig cancelling the World Series and so ending the chances of an Expos playoff run.

The franchise never recovered from the strike, either on the field or in the stands. In 2004, after 36 years, the Expos played their last game at Olympic stadium. The Expos’ first French-Canadian player, Claude Raymond, who had played in their inaugural 1969 season, gave a tearful final speech to fans, providing a bookend for the franchise.

Toronto Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays were founded in 1977 as part of the American League expansion. The team has won six Eastern Division titles, two American League pennants and two World Series titles.

The Blue Jays first game in franchise history took place at Exhibition Stadium on April 7, 1977. Fans braved the unseasonably frigid temperatures to witness the historic event that resulted in a 9 to 5 win over the Chicago White Sox. An unknown first-baseman named Doug Ault slammed two homeruns to become the first Jays hero.

A black-and-white photograph of a baseball game. There’s a man who has just swung at the ball. Behind him is a man wearing catcher equipment and crouching, while behind him is an umpire, also crouching. In the background are players in baseball uniforms and a man wearing police uniform, all watching the action. Behind them spectators are seated in the stands.

The Toronto Blue Jays play the Kansas City Royals in their inaugural season on August 12, 1977, at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto. They played at Exhibition Stadium until 1989, when the Skydome (now Rogers Center) opened its doors. Credit: Toronto Star/Frank Lennon (MIKAN 3796691)

After many turbulent years, the Blue Jays finally made 1992 a historic one for Canadian baseball. They won their first American League championship and became the first team based outside the United States to win a World Series Championship. As a sign of respect for the team that had paved the way, the Jays asked the Expos’ original owner, Charles Bronfman, to perform the ceremonial first pitch prior to Game 3 of the series. The impressive six-game World Series concluded with Dave Winfield driving in the winning runs in the 11th inning. Jays catcher Pat Borders was awarded the series MVP.

The Blue Jays’ success continued into the 1993 season as they defended their title of American League champions. John Olerud became the first Blue Jay to win a batting title. The Jays went on to defend their World Series championship, defeating the Philadelphia Phillies in six games. In a moment forever etched in the memory of fans, Joe Carter hit a theatrical home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to win the deciding game. It was only the second time in World Series history that a series had ended on a home run.

The luck ended two years later when the Jays finished dead last in the American League East. Jump ahead to 2015, however, and the 22-season streak of failing to reach the post-season was broken under Manager John Gibbons, with the Jays winning their sixth American League East Division title. They then came back from a two-game deficit to beat the Texas Rangers in the Division Series. That series included the iconic home run and bat flip by right fielder Jose Bautista. In the American League Championship Series, the Jays lost to the Kansas City Royals, who would go on to win the World Series.

For the Jays, the 2016 regular season proved inconsistent and found them in second place in the American League East. However, they battled to make it to the sudden-death American League Wild Card game, where, in a nail-biter, they defeated the Baltimore Orioles 5 to 2, thanks to Edwin Encarnacion’s dramatic walk-off homerun in extra innings before a packed Rogers Centre crowd of roaring Canadians. A new generation of Canadian baseball fans had arrived.

Canada and baseball have not always had an easy relationship, but it has been one full of exciting and individual moments. Baseball in Canada has served as an introduction for children to the importance of team work, it has been there for soldiers in wartime, and it has united the country in times of both triumph and defeat.

A black-and-white photograph of five men standing around a counter. Two of the men are wearing baseball uniforms with a large letter ‘C’ on the chest. The other men are wearing suits and hats. One of the uniformed men is holding up a drink and looking towards the camera.

Players in Cobden, Ontario, grab a refreshing drink after a game in 1909 (MIKAN 3379777)

“Cheers” to many more memories and many more moments for the history books as Canada plays ball!

Other resources

Kelly Anne Griffin is an archival technician in the Science, Environment and Economy section of the Archives Division at Library and Archives Canada.

From humble beginnings to making history in Montreal

By Kelly Anne Griffin

Long before unforgettable Canadian baseball moments, such as Joe Carter’s World-Series-winning home run, the emotion and pride Canadians felt as our national anthem was performed for the first time at a Major League Baseball (MLB) game, and Jose Bautista’s iconic bat flip, baseball already had a strong presence in Canada. While many of us consider baseball a North American sport, it actually has its origins in the European bat-and-ball game played by British schoolkids known as rounders. Variations of baseball were being played in Canada at least three decades before Confederation. The first documented account of the game, however, comes from Beachville, Ontario, on June 4, 1838. Southwestern Ontario was where the game was most prominent in these early days.

A black-and-white photograph of an outdoor baseball field with a game underway. The crowd watches from the packed stands. The background shows the buildings of the cityscape.

A baseball game at Tecumseh Park between the International League’s London Tecumsehs and the Stars of Syracuse in 1878. Now called Labatt Park, it is the world’s oldest continually operating baseball grounds, opening on May 3, 1877. It was designated a heritage site in 1994 (MIKAN 3261769)

A black-and-white photograph of a baseball game from behind home plate. A player is at the plate as a pitch comes in. The umpire stands behind him to make the call.

Hanlan’s Point Stadium on Toronto Island in 1917, the first home of the International League’s Toronto Maple Leafs baseball club. It was also where Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run while playing for the Providence Grays (MIKAN 3384487)

A black-and-white photograph of a baseball stadium, taken from the vantage point of the right field bleachers. The bleachers and the field, including the diamond and outfield, are visible.

View from the outfield stands at Maple Leaf Stadium in Toronto. Built in 1927 for the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League, it was built to replace Hanlan’s Point Stadium (MIKAN 3327476)

The first official Canadian baseball team was formed as a result of efforts by William Shuttleworth, who was known as the father of Canadian baseball. The first pioneering team, comprised of various working class men from around Hamilton, was called the Young Canadians. For the next two decades, teams adhering to different rules sprouted up all over Canada. As the popularity of the sport soared, businessmen sponsored their favourite teams as a way to promote their products, and the Canadian Association of Baseball Players was founded. At this time, rather than competing nationally, many local baseball clubs competed cross-border with their closest American neighbours. By 1913, there were 24 minor league teams in Canada.

A black-and-white photograph of 10 children wearing baseball uniforms. The jerseys read "Pages" across the front. The boys are sitting and standing with bats, gloves and other baseball equipment. Behind the boys stands an adult man, wearing a suit and hat. The background is a studio backdrop showing trees.

House of Commons “Pages” baseball team, circa 1900. Baseball was enjoyed by people of all ages in Canada. It was seen as a great way to develop team skills and it was common for companies and their staff to form teams, such as these young men who worked on Parliament Hill (MIKAN 3549043)

First World War

Sports were an important part of everyday life in Europe for Canadian troops during the First World War. They served as a way to break the monotony of the troops’ duties and relieve stress. The leadership saw sports as a way of keeping the men out of trouble and boosting their morale while they stayed physically fit. Baseball became so beloved by soldiers that it was even sponsored by the government. In April 1916, the government held a fundraiser with the proceeds going towards baseball equipment.

A black-and-white photograph of a player sliding into home plate. The catcher is standing over the base while the umpire makes the call. A crowd of soldiers cheers them on.

member of the Canadian team slides into home as troops cheer him on in 1917. Baseball was immensely popular with troops and games were held regularly during down time (MIKAN 3384451)

Second World War

During the Second World War, baseball continued to be a favourite pastime of troops. With the Americans’ arrival in 1942, there were suddenly plenty of other teams against which to compete. As was the case in the early days of the game back at home, Canada-versus-the-US games were commonplace. One of the most memorable games occurred at Wembley Stadium on August 3, 1942, with 6,000 cheering fans in the stands. The Canadian troops defeated US Army Headquarters, 5 to 3.

A black-and-white photograph of a baseball game. A player stands with a bat and behind him are a catcher and an umpire. In the background are players watching the play and spectators in the stands.

A game between Canadian and US servicemen in August 1942 at Wembley Stadium in London, England, a venue that held many baseball games during the Second World War (MIKAN 3211157)

A black-and-white photograph of a woman in work clothes and a headscarf swinging a baseball bat at a ball. She stands in a vacant lot with industrial buildings and other structures in the background.

It wasn’t just those contributing to the war efforts overseas who enjoyed baseball during the war years. Here, a woman from an ammunition factory in Toronto joins a game on her break (MIKAN 3195852)

Upon returning to Canada, many soldiers spoke fondly of the baseball games and continued playing and watching back home. While Canadians played many sports during war times, none was played as often or to such an enthusiastic audience as baseball.

Jackie Robinson

In 1945, the young Negro Leagues player Jackie Robinson was approached by Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey. Shortly after that initial, secret meeting it was announced that Robinson had signed a contract with the organization. The plan was to find the path of least resistance to his race to ease him into the Majors. The first step was to assign Robinson to spring training in Florida then ease him into professional baseball in Montreal with the team’s triple-A affiliate. Montreal was a deliberate selection, a city in which Rickey believed Robinson could get acclimated to baseball with less of a negative experience than he likely could in many American cities. However, during that first spring, in 1946, Robinson experienced unrelenting racism. In Sanford, Florida, the sheriff stepped onto the field and cancelled an exhibition game because African Americans were not allowed to compete with white players.

Montreal was a more welcoming city for Jackie and his wife Rachel. While still not without incident, the city and its fans embraced him. In his first and only season in Montreal, Jackie helped lead the team to an exceptional record of 100 wins and only 54 losses.

Learn more about Jackie Robinson’s groundbreaking career.

A black-and-white photograph of a baseball player rounding the bases as a player on the opposing team tries to catch up to him.

Jackie Robinson in Florida for spring training in 1946. Fans loved the way he sped around the diamond mesmerizing crowds, stealing a remarkable 40 bases during his first and only season in the minors, including many at home plate (MIKAN 3574533)

From humble beginnings in southwestern Ontario to a favourite wartime activity to the city of Montreal embracing Jackie Robinson, by the middle of the 20th century baseball had captured the heart of the nation. Still, Canada’s love of baseball was about to take on new heights. With Major League Baseball on its way, more Canadians than ever would soon fall in love with the game.

Other resources:

Kelly Anne Griffin is an archival technician in the Science, Environment and Economy Section of the Archives Division at Library and Archives Canada.

Images of Cheese now on Flickr

Cheese making in Canada can trace its origins to the early 1600s with the introduction of European, milk-producing cattle at settlements like Quebec City. Over time, as more settlers arrived, so too did more cattle and family cheese recipes. Today Canadians benefit from two types of recipes introduced in the 17th century—the soft-ripened cheeses from France, and the harder types, such as Cheddar, from the United Kingdom.

A black-and-white photograph of a man using a hoist to lift cheese from a vat. Two other men, a girl and a boy watch from behind the vat.

Drawing cheese from vats at the Gruyer cheese factory, La Malbaie, Quebec (MIKAN 3518025)

The production of cheese stayed mainly on the family farm and saw only a few exports during the early 19th century. However, an American named Harvey Farrington convinced local farmers to sell their milk stocks to his factory, allowing him to open the first Canadian cheese factory in Norwich, Ontario, in 1864. Since Confederation, a number of small and large cheese producers and cheese-making schools have made their mark on Canadian food production.

A black-and-white photograph of two men checking the temperature of milk at a cheese factory.

Taking temperature in cheese factory, Prince Edward County, Ontario (MIKAN 3371580)

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Images of Bird’s-Eye Views now on Flickr

 The expression “a bird’s-eye view” indicates the perspective of an area or object in relation to other things, such as a map, blueprint, or cityscape. Often depicted in drawings or photographs, a bird’s-eye view offers a reference point from high overhead.
A black-and-white photograph of Niagara Falls from a bird’s-eye perspective. There are various buildings on either side of the border and roads leading up to and alongside the riverbanks.

Bird’s-eye view of Niagara Falls with the various power plants on the Canadian side, Ontario (MIKAN 3318089)

A black-and-white photograph of Calgary, Alberta, from a bird’s-eye perspective. The Bow River and a bridge are in the foreground with a number of homes and larger buildings in the background.

Bird’s-eye view of Calgary, Alberta (MIKAN 3302621)

Some synonyms for bird’s-eye view include aerial view, aerial viewpoint, overhead view, bird’s-eye shot, and bird’s-flight view. There are slight differences in perspective, but all appear to depict the area from up above.

A black-and-white photograph of Cabri, Saskatchewan, from a bird’s-eye perspective. It shows a main dirt road with neighbouring houses and buildings. Some people, horses and wagons gather throughout the town.

Bird’s-eye view of Cabri, Saskatchewan (MIKAN 3259496)

A black-and-white map of Winnipeg, Manitoba, from a bird’s-eye perspective. The Red River is central, showing steamboats navigating it and settlements and main roads established along its banks.

Bird’s-eye view of Winnipeg, Manitoba (MIKAN 4146329)

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