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.”

Fruits of the Library and Archives Canada and partnership starting to appear online

The partnership between Library and Archives Canada and over the next ten years involves the digitization, indexing and description of millions of personal, administrative and government documents. It will triple LAC’s digital content on the Web, and allow Canadians to access tens of millions of additional images regardless of where they live, at no charge.

We will be adding new content regularly to the Héritage website. The following is a list of the microfilms digitized since June 2013 and currently available online, representing a total of 2.1 million images:

  • Alexander Harris fonds
  • Alphonse Fournier fonds
  • Baring Brothers and Company fonds
  • Canadian Labour Congress fonds
  • Civil Secretary’s letter books of Upper Canada
  • Clifford Sifton fonds
  • Correspondence and drafts of enclosures to dispatches from the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada
  • Correspondence of the deputy minister and the adjutant general
  • Daniel Claus and family fonds
  • David Brown Milne fonds
  • Despatches from the Colonial Office
  • Despatches received and sent by the offices of the Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick, the Governors of Vancouver Island and British Columbia, the Lieutenant Governor’s Office of Prince Edward Island
  • Drafts of correspondence sent from the Governor-in-Chief of Lower Canada, the Governor-in-Chief of the Province of Canada
  • Ermatinger family estate fonds
  • Francis Goring fonds
  • Francis Reginald Scott fonds
  • General index to the Public Archives of Canada
  • George Brown fonds
  • George Foster fonds
  • Glyn, Mills and Company fonds
  • Governor General’s Office, drafts of Despatches to the Secretary of State and numbered files
  • Gustave Lamothe fonds
  • Heir and Devisee Commission
  • James Hargrave and family fonds
  • James J. Morrison fonds
  • James Monk and family fonds
  • Jean-Mandé Sigogne fonds
  • John George Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham fonds
  • Joseph Howe fonds
  • Journal ou relation d’une conspiration faite par les Sauvages contre les Anglais [Journal or description of an Indian conspiracy against the English]
  • Lady Aberdeen’s Journals
  • Letter books of despatches from and to the Colonial Office
  • Lower Canada, declarations of aliens
  • Percy R. Bengough fonds
  • Port records
  • Pre-Confederation despatches from the British Minister at Washington
  • Records relating to Louis Riel and the North West Uprising
  • Red River journal of Alexander Begg, 1869-1870
  • Royal Commission on Canada’s Economic Prospects fonds
  • Selected documents relating to the Jesuit Estates
  • Selkirk collection
  • Sir Robert Borden fonds
  • Sir Wilfrid Laurier fonds
  • State submissions to the Executive Council of Upper Canada
  • Subject files of the Offices of the Governor-in-Chief at Quebec, the Governor-in-Chief of the Province of Canada
  • The centennial of the settlement of Upper Canada by the United Empire Loyalists, 1784-1884: the celebrations at Adolphustown
  • Trades and Labor Congress of Canada
  • Traill family collection
  • Upper Canada Land Books
  • Upper Canada Sundries
  • Vatican Fonds
  • Ward Chipman (senior and junior) fonds
  • William Cowan fonds
  • William Henry Pope Fonds
  • William Lyon Mackenzie King fonds
  • William Stewart and family fonds
  • Library and Archives Canada to Digitize 640,000 First World War Service Files

    As part of the commemoration of the centennial of the First World War, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) announced in its News section that it is undertaking the digitization of 640,000 personnel service files of the First World War’s Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) members with a view to ensuring the long-term preservation of these frail paper documents.

    Transferred to LAC about 20 years ago, CEF service files represent LAC’s most heavily consulted collection. A victim of its own success, the high number of transactions to which the collection has been subjected is putting strains on the mostly paper-based documents and is hastening their deterioration.

    Many readers who have had the opportunity to hold these precious historical documents in their hands in recent years will certainly remember how some of the sheets are beginning to crumble. If LAC does not undertake action to preserve these files now, they are at risk. Once lost, they are lost forever.

    To be able to perform this important undertaking, LAC will temporarily close portions of the service files. The first quarter, beginning with the letter A through D, will be closed as of March 2014 and will be available on-line as of Summer 2014.

    While 75% of the collections will always be open, LAC will not be able to accept requests to consult documents in person, nor take orders for copies for a period of up to 4 months on the portion of the collection being digitized.

    The files to be digitized will complement the approximately 13,500 service files and the more than 620,000 attestation papers already available on LAC’s website. At the end of the project, expected in 2015, Canadians will be able to research high-quality digital copies of the 640,000 newly digitized service files from the comfort of their own home and will no longer have to pay reprography fees.

    LAC is pleased to contribute to the Commemorative Initiatives of the Government of Canada to honour the contributions and sacrifices made by Canadian men and women during the First World War. We wish to recognize Public Works and Government Services Canada’s support in this endeavour.

    LAC appreciates your understanding and patience during the course of this extensive project.

    For more information on this initiative, please consult the Fact Sheet: Digitization of Canadian Expeditionary Force Service Files.

    Library and Archives Canada releases ninth podcast episode

    Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is releasing its latest podcast episode: Pulp Canada: between the covers. Pulps, with their screaming story titles and attention-grabbing cover art, already began to capture the public interest by the turn of the 20th century.

    Professor Carolyn Strange, author of True Crime True North: The Golden Age of Canadian Pulp Magazines, and author Ian Driscoll join us to talk about LAC ’s pulp fiction collection. They discuss the different aspects of the collection and bring to light some of the incredible stories surrounding this literature form.

    Subscribe to our podcast episodes using RSS or iTunes, or just tune in at: Podcast – Discover Library and Archives Canada: Your History, Your Documentary Heritage.

    For more information, please contact us at

    Sheet music from Canada’s past

    Did you know that Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has one of the most comprehensive sheet music collection in the country? Thanks to Helmut Kallmann, the founding Chief of the Music Division at the National Library of Canada (now part of LAC), who collected any early Canadian sheet music he could find.

    Recently, over a thousand pieces of sheet music from this collection were digitized and are now available online. These titles were published before 1918 and include a wide variety of patriotic and parlour songs, piano pieces, sacred music, etc.

    Colour image depicting people dancing in a barn.

    Sheet music cover image of a musical piece entitled, “The Village Barn Dance” by Mollie King. Source

    Visit LAC’s Sheet Music from Canada’s Past website to learn more or to search for music sheets. Here’s how:

    1. Click on Search Sheet Music located in the left menu.
    2. In the first box, click the down arrow and choose the time period you would like to search, e.g. “1900-1913.”
    3. In the second box, click the down arrow and choose the type of search, e.g. Title keyword (song title).
    4. In the third box, you can enter a search term, e.g. “barn”.
    5. Click the “Submit” button at the bottom.

    The browsing options in the fourth box allows you to limit your search to digitized music for which there is either printed music or audio files available. Please note that default searching has been set at “All Time Periods”, “Any Keyword” but you can modify these settings by following the above steps.

    Once you have found a piece of sheet music, you will see some or all of the following information:

    1. A description of the music.
    2. A small colour image of the front cover.
    3. A large colour image of the cover.
    4. A “View sheet music” icon.
    5. An “Audio” icon

    As the sheet music is available as PDFs, you can print the music on letter size paper.

    Historical Debates of the Parliament of Canada (Hansard) now online!

    Congratulations to the Library of Parliament and Canadiana: the Historical Debates of the Parliament of Canada portal is now live!

    This new portal contains the historical debates in both official languages from 1867 to the mid-1990s. This means you can now search and browse all published debates of both the Senate and the House of Commons from Parliament 1, Session 1, until the coverage begins on

    As mentioned above, the portal was developed by the Library of Parliament, in collaboration with, a membership alliance dedicated to building Canada’s digital preservation infrastructure and providing wide-ranging access to Canadian documentary heritage. Library and Archives Canada is pleased to have provided support by producing the digital page images.

    You can consult our blog Looking for the Debates of the House of Commons (Hansard) online? of June 2012 to help you find information on the House of Commons debates.