The Governor General’s Literary Awards for 2013

The Governor General’s Literary Awards are given annually to the best English-language and the best French-language book in each of the seven categories of Fiction, Literary Non-fiction, Poetry, Drama, Children’s Literature (text), Children’s Literature (illustration) and Translation.

Every year, Library and Archives Canada works to ensure that each Canadian nominee is acquired, catalogued and made available prior to the final announcement of the winners. Usually, this is done through legal deposit, but in some cases the nominated books are not published in Canada and need to be acquired through other means so that a complete selection of the Governor General’s nominees are preserved for future generations.

Congratulations to all!

Fiction
English
The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton (AMICUS 41787649)
French
Quand les guêpes se taisent, by Stéphanie Pelletier (AMICUS 40915742)

Poetry
English
North End Love Songs, by Katherena Vermette (AMICUS 40823688)
French
Pour les désespérés seulement, by René Lapierre (AMICUS 40824154)

Drama
English
Fault Lines, by Nicolas Billon (AMICUS 41530643)
French
Bienveillance, by Fanny Britt (AMICUS 41316358)

Non-Fiction
English
Journey with No Maps: A Life of P.K. Page, by Sandra Djwa (AMICUS 40812690)
French
Aimer, enseigner, by Yvon Rivard (AMICUS 40909709)

Children’s Text
English
The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B, by Teresa Toten (AMICUS 41749214)
French
À l’ombre de la grande maison, by Geneviève Mativat (AMICUS 40696767)

Children’s Illustration
English
Northwest Passage, by Matt James (AMICUS 40320781)
French
Jane, le renard et moi, by Isabelle Arsenault (AMICUS 41921688)

Translation
English
The Major Verbs, by Donald Winkler (AMICUS 40717619)
French
L’enfant du jeudi, by Sophie Voillot (AMICUS 40772400)

The Man Behind the Grey Cup

Library and Archives Canada Blog

Although Albert Henry George Grey, 4th Earl Grey won’t be at this year’s 100th Grey Cup game and party, he would no doubt be proud of his legacy. Earl Grey, who served as Governor General of Canada from 1904 to 1911, commissioned and donated the trophy, which bears his name for posterity.

In the spirit of promoting Canadian sports and culture, Lord Grey first intended to donate a trophy for the senior amateur hockey championship in Canada. But Sir Hugh Andrew Montagu Allan beat him to it, and today the Allan Cup continues to serve that role. Not to be deterred from making a name for himself in Canadian sports, Lord Grey donated the Grey Cup as an annual award for the senior amateur football champions, in 1909.

Lord Grey only lived eight more years after donating the cup, dying in his home in Howick, England, in 1917. However, his…

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The digitization of the Lord Grey banner

We have explained the origins of a large banner donated to Canada by Lord Grey in a previous blog.This current blog post reveals the work involved in digitizing this unique piece of Canadian history.

Library and Archives Canada’s (LAC) digitization staff are accustomed to handling a range of objects, such as documents, photographs, negatives, microfilm, paintings, maps and books. Occasionally, non-conventional objects present unusual challenges, such as the digitization of the Lord Grey banner, a tall embroidered banner in fragile condition.

Due to limitations in the existing digitization equipment and the size and condition of the banner, the technicians needed to come up with some creative solutions. To minimize the amount of movement, the banner was delivered from storage to the photo conservation lab in LAC’s Preservation Centre in Gatineau, Quebec. As it could not be hung vertically, it was placed on the floor in an evenly lit open space.

The camera is positioned above the banner, which is laid on the floor.

The camera is positioned above the banner, which is laid on the floor.

Images of the banner were taken using a Phase One 645 DF+ medium format digital camera mounted on the largest camera stand available. With the camera suspended seven feet away, the banner was captured in eight separate sections and the images reassembled using Photoshop for a complete view. Switching to a 150 mm macro lens, the camera was then lowered to get a selection of detail shots showing the many parts of the banner, such as the signature on the back, the shield with St. George and the dragon, and the types of stitching used. When the front was fully documented, the banner was turned over so that the back could also be captured.

Part of the fabric depicting St. George, patron saint of England and the dragon.

Part of the fabric depicting St. George, patron saint of England and the dragon.

The digitization work was undertaken to create a visual representation of the banner, providing the details of its design and the beautiful workmanship. LAC has now created a permanent digital record, making the banner accessible online, reducing the need to handle the physical item and thereby ensuring its long-term preservation.

Visit our Facebook album to see what went on behind-the-scenes to digitize this banner.

Unravelling the mystery of the Lord Grey banner

A large banner depicting two female figures in a rural setting is among the most interesting and unique items in the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) collection. Measuring 2.4 x 1.8 metres, this needlework is made from linen, cotton and wool, in addition to being beautifully embroidered with silk and other threads. On the back of the banner, more embroidery indicates that is was “worked by Agnes Sephton 1907.” According to former archivists, Governor General Albert Henry George Grey, 4th Earl Grey, gave the banner to the Dominion Archives sometime between 1907 and 1911. The banner hung in the office of the Assistant Dominion Archivist until 1953 when it was put into storage. In 1967, it was moved to the National Archives at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa, and has been housed at LAC’s Preservation Centre in Gatineau, Quebec since 2000.

The banner donated by Lord Grey.

The banner donated by Lord Grey. Source

During preparations for the latter move, staff learned more about the circumstances surrounding the banner’s creation. It is thought to be one of a series commissioned by Lord Grey in hopes of making a lasting impression upon the minds and hearts of young Canadians. He planned for banners to be hung in schools across the country to reinforce the ties between Great Britain and Canada. According to legend, St. George, the patron saint of England, demonstrated immense courage in slaying a dragon. Lord Grey wanted young men and women to emulate these heroic qualities. St. George can be found on the shield held by Britannia, the female figure dressed in red. She extends a protective arm around young Canada, who is wearing a white dress adorned with doves and pine trees.

Recently, while preparing the banner to be photographed, LAC staff tracked down the identity of the woman who created it. When Canadian sources failed to reveal a possible candidate, archivists found one in British census and marriage records. Agnes Bingley was born in 1868 in London, England, the daughter of James Bingley, a landscape artist. In 1901 she married George Sephton, who was a painter. The couple lived in London and were associated with a group of artists and designers linked to the Arts and Crafts Movement. It is hoped that further research will reveal more clues about Agnes Sephton’s banner and how it came to LAC .

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.

Library and Archives Canada’s Fifth Anniversary on Flickr

In 2008, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) launched its first Flickr set, The Shamrock and the Maple Leaf, which provided a sample of items that could be found in the LAC collection. The set complemented a symposium on Irish-Canadian studies hosted by LAC and supported by the National Archives of Ireland.

This new LAC endeavour quickly proved to be a highly positive one, with viewership of LAC’s Flickr site continuing to grow every time a new set was added.

As LAC’s Flickr site drew more and more viewers, the participation of LAC staff members with specialized knowledge of the collection also grew rapidly. Thanks to those employees, 2012 in particular saw a major increase in the number of sets, covering a variety of significant and interesting topics.

As of September 2013, LAC’s Flickr page featured 74 sets and 2,576 images.

Thanks go out to our staff, and especially to all the people who visit LAC’s Flickr page, for helping us reach 1.7 million views. We hope you enjoy this unique window into our collection.

Five Heritage Films on Canada at War now on YouTube

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has released the last set of heritage films on its YouTube channel. Easy to access, you can now enjoy the following short films:

You can see our previous announcements on Snapshots of Canadian Life, Scenic Canada, and Agriculture and Industry.

The “ghost” Colonel…and other “spooky” portraits in Library and Archives Canada’s collection

One of the most beautiful and rare oil paintings in Library and Archives Canada’s collection is this portrait of Colonel John Hale (1728–1806). After returning to England as a hero of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham (1759), Hale had this portrait painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723–1792), a famous portrait artist, who is also renowned for his experiments with paint materials and for his stubborn attitude towards the use of one particular colour.

Portrait of Colonel John Hale, circa 1763-1764.

Portrait of Colonel John Hale, circa 1763-1764. Source

In the portrait, the lapels of Hale’s uniform are edged in black in honour of the death of General James Wolfe (1727–1759), a reminder of the most recent and significant battle in Colonel Hale’s career. The unusually pale colour of Hale’s face and hands fits well with this serious subject matter. It also seems appropriate for a portrait of a man who lived a long time ago — as modern viewers might expect, Hale appears to be a ghost out of the past.

But Hale’s otherworldly appearance is really a complete accident. To create a flesh colour for faces and hands, Reynolds mixed white pigment with carmine, a dark red pigment made from crushed South American beetles. Unfortunately, early carmine was “fugitive” — it disappeared quickly when exposed to light. This is especially true when, as in this portrait, carmine is mixed with white. White is a colour pigment that is less able to protect carmine from light exposure. Carmine fades away, and white is the main colour that remains behind.

Even within Reynolds’ lifetime, the pale faces in many of his early portraits were noticed. Yet Reynolds is famous for refusing to use vermilion, the more stable but less natural shade of red. He is said to have responded to the suggestion by looking at his own hand and saying: “I can see no vermilion in flesh.”

For more “spooky” portraits, visit our Flickr album.