Images of Cruises now on Flickr

Cruises are trips taken on ships or boats for leisure and may include stops along the way for vacation activities.

A black-and-white photograph of two girls and four boys sitting on the foredeck of the motorboat Queen.

Children on board the motorboat Queen for an all-day cruise from Waskesiu to Kingsmere Portage, Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan [MIKAN 3232476]

The first passenger cruise services began in Europe during the 1840s. Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O) initially offered a few stops in the Mediterranean Sea and the United Kingdom. P&O underwent rapid expansion during the second half of the 19th century and into the early 20th century, and featured more and more destinations around the world.

A black-and-white photograph of the interior of the steamer Montreal, showing a large carpeted sitting room with numerous cushioned chairs.

Interior of the steamer Montreal [MIKAN 3380611]

The company was the predecessor for today’s modern cruise lines, which cross the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and travel the East and West coasts of Canada and the rest of North America. Canadians have access not only to ocean destinations, but also to an abundance of lake and river cruises.

A colour photograph of a boy playing shuffleboard, watched by a man and a woman on the Canadian Pacific Railway cruise ship Assiniboia.

Passengers play shuffleboard on the Canadian Pacific Railway cruise ship Assiniboia, Georgian Bay, Ontario [MIKAN 4312065]

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The mystery of the Franklin expedition

By Catherine Butler

The lost expedition

The story of the lost Franklin expedition is well known to many Canadians. Led by Sir John Franklin, the expedition comprised 24 officers and 110 men and set sail from Greenhithe, England, in May 1845 in search of the Northwest Passage. On board the HMS Terror and the HMS Erebus, the voyage initially progressed relatively smoothly.

The crew made it to the Whale Fish Islands off the coast of Greenland to stock up on supplies, and arrived in Baffin Bay in July 1845. There, the captains of two whaling ships, the Prince of Wales and the Enterprise, saw the crew while waiting for favourable conditions to cross Lancaster Sound. This was the last time they were ever seen.

What happened next is as horrifying as it is legendary. The crews of the Erebus and Terror spent the winter of 1845–1846 on Beechey Island, where three crew members died and were buried. Things would only get worse from there. In September 1846, the ships got stuck in ice off the coast of King William Island, where they remained for the winter and spring of 1847. By June 1847, Sir John Franklin was dead. The remaining crew, now captained by Francis Crozier, spent the rest of 1847 stuck in the ice, unable to continue their voyage.

By April 1848, the Erebus and the Terror were abandoned and the remaining crew set off on foot for the mainland. All the men perished along the way, and it would be years before anyone would learn of their fate.

Unlocking the mystery

In the years immediately following the expedition, when no word from the crew was received, the British government made efforts to locate the men, offering rewards for information about their whereabouts or their discovery. The first mission dispatched to search for the Franklin expedition set off in 1848. The mission failed. No sign of the lost men emerged until 1850, with the discovery of their winter camp at Cape Riley and the graves of the men who died during the first winter on Beechey Island.

Poster offering a £20,000 reward for the discovery of the Franklin expedition.

£20,000 reward for the discovery of the missing Franklin expedition, March 7, 1850 (e010754422)

During an 1854 expedition sponsored by the Hudson’s Bay Company, John Rae arrived in the Boothia Peninsula, where he met an Inuit man who told him of a group of white men who had starved to death a few years earlier at the mouth of a large river. After speaking with a number of other Inuit people from the area, Rae was able to identify the Back River as the likely site of the sighting. During this voyage, Rae acquired a number of relics belonging to the lost expedition, including inscribed silverware.

Drawing of a number of different items recovered during various search operations dispatched by the British government to locate the lost Franklin expeditions. Items include silverware, blades, pocket-watches, knives and flasks.

Relics of the Franklin expedition, ca. 1845 (e010958396)

Throughout the years, numerous expeditions sought to locate the lost ships and recover the bodies of the crew. RCMP patrols, intrepid travellers and archeologists attempted to uncover the fate of the men and to locate the abandoned ships. Graves, skulls and countless artifacts were located, but the ships remained hidden. Crews would search for ships, but it would take nearly 170 years for them be found.

Black-and-white photograph depicting 5 skulls against black rocks. The skulls were found in 1945 during an expedition by William Skinner and Paddy Gibson.

Skulls of members of the Franklin expedition discovered and buried by William Skinner and Paddy Gibson in 1945 (a147732)

Uncovered at last

In 2008, the Canadian government launched a renewed effort to locate the wreckage of the Franklin expedition’s lost ships. Working more closely with Inuit historians and local communities, these efforts would soon pay off. In September 2014, the HMS Erebus was discovered near King William Island in the Queen Maud Gulf. Locating this ship, which had eluded so many experts for so many years, was made possible largely because of the oral histories known to historian Louie Kamookak.

Almost exactly two years later, the wreckage of the HMS Terror was located, thanks in large part to Sammy Kogvik, an Inuit hunter and Canadian ranger who joined the crew of the Arctic Research Foundation that lead search and recovery efforts. Without the assistance and knowledge of local Inuit communities, it is quite possible that the abandoned ships might never have been located.

Find out more

Library and Archives Canada holds a number of archival records relating to the search for the lost expedition, including journals kept by Francis McClintock during his four Arctic expeditions in search of Sir John Franklin between 1848 and 1859.

For more information on the importance of oral histories and Inuit knowledge, David Woodman’s Unravelling the Franklin Mystery: Inuit Testimony is an excellent source (AMICUS 43188964).

For an interactive experience about the plight of the crewmen and the role that Inuit communities played in the discovery of the wreckages, visit the Museum of History’s exhibition, Death in the Ice—The Mystery of the Franklin Expedition, on until September 30, 2018.


Catherine Butler is a Reference Archivist in the Public Services Branch at Library and Archives Canada.

Images of the Port of Montreal now on Flickr

A colour print of Montréal harbour and a moored sailing ship having its cargo unloaded onto the wharf. There is a paddleboat to the ship’s port side, and two men paddling a canoe across its bow.

View of the harbour, Montréal, Quebec [MIKAN 2837612]

From the establishment of Montreal as a city in 1642, until the arrival of steam-powered ships in the early part of the 19th century, the Port of Montreal was mostly used by trappers throughout the fur trade and then by French and English sailing vessels bringing supplies to their colony. However, with the appearance of steam-powered ships and the resulting opening of many new and international trading routes, the Port of Montreal would leave behind its humble beginnings and enter into a new period of growth and expansion.

A black-and-white photograph of moored sailing cargo ships. Various types of cargo are stacked on the wharf and transported away by horse-drawn wagons.

Busy Montréal harbour, Quebec [MIKAN 3382335]

A black-and-white photograph of a ship moored to the dock. Four men are working from ladders hanging off the bow.

Canada Atlantic Railway barges in Montréal harbour, Quebec [MIKAN 3411873]

A black-and-white photograph of three moored ships. A port authority building is in the background. Along the wharf, there is a large unloading structure with hoists and scaffolding.

Shipping in harbour, Montréal, Quebec [MIKAN 3349054]

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The Port of Montreal

From the establishment of Montreal as a city in 1642, until the arrival of steam-powered ships in the early part of the 19th century, the Port of Montreal was mostly used by trappers throughout the fur trade and then by French and English sailing vessels bringing supplies to their colony. However, with the appearance of steam-powered ships and the resulting opening of many new and international trading routes, the Port of Montreal would leave behind its humble beginnings and enter into a new period of growth and expansion.

An oil painting of a harbour and waterfront, with a green island visible on the right.

Montreal Harbour, painted by Andrew Morris in 1847, e008300982

Throughout the mid to late 1800s, the Port of Montreal saw countless changes and improvements, starting in 1830 with the establishment of the first Harbour Commission. By 1832, almost three-quarters of a mile of docks had been constructed, and by 1854, the navigation channel between Montreal and Quebec City had been successfully dredged to a depth of 16 feet. Other improvements during this time frame include the movement of goods from the port by train, the installation of electric lights, a further dredging of the channel to 25 feet, as well as the introduction of regular steamship service between the Port of Montreal and Liverpool.

The Port was further enhanced during the early part of the 20th century. The construction of grain elevators began in 1902 and transit sheds in 1908. And by 1910, the deepening of the channel between Montreal and Quebec City to 35 feet was well under way.

A black-and-white photograph of a wharf lined with various types of cargo with a large neo-classical building and a church along the shoreline.

View of the Bonsecours market, wharves and church, photograph by Alexander Henderson, ca. 1875 (c007943)

Because of the harsh Canadian winter, the Port of Montreal was open only seven months of the year up until the early 1960s. However, in 1962, the National Harbours Board (which had become responsible for the Port of Montreal after the demise of the Harbour Commission) introduced icebreakers to the waterway between Montreal and Quebec City. By 1964, the Port of Montreal was open all year long.

A watercolour of a huge ice buildup along the port shoreline of a city.

“Breaking up of the ice in the St. Lawrence at Montreal,” painted by George Henry Andrews in 1864 (e000996176)

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has many items that chronicle the evolution of the Port of Montreal. The earliest item is a photograph taken in 1870 by Alexander Henderson depicting the steamship S.S. Quebec docked at Montreal harbour with horse-drawn carts on the shore in the foreground. There are also photographs of the Port by William Topley, Henry Joseph Woodside and Hayward Studios. LAC also has a beautiful oil painting completed in 1847 by Andrew Morris depicting the harbour and waterfront of Montreal from the unusual vantage point of Montreal’s shore across from St. Helen’s Island.

A black-and-white photograph of a busy harbour front, showing a street of buildings and boat-lined piers.

View of Montreal Harbour, photograph by William Topley, September 1902 (a201779)

A black-and-white photograph of railway lines running along a ship-lined harbour front.

Wharf and harbour, undated photograph by William Topley (a008893)

Images Celebrating the Outaouais now on Flickr

The Outaouais region is steeped in history. Library and Archives Canada collections reflect this history, and remind us of the enduring importance of the people who have lived here, their economic and commercial enterprises, and the natural beauty of the region.

A colour photograph of two women and two men having a picnic in a park on the bank of a river.

Picnicking in Brébeuf Park on the Ottawa River near Hull, Québec [MIKAN 4292850]

A black-and-white photograph of a lumberman hammering the Company stamp, the letter “G,” meaning Gatineau, onto the ends of 16-foot logs.

A lumberman hammering the Company stamp “G” for Gatineau onto the ends of 16-foot logs destined for the Gatineau mills of the Canadian International Paper Co., Gatineau, Québec [MIKAN 3197680]

A black-and-white photograph of Duke Ellington standing between two women at the Standish Hall Hotel and posing for a picture.

Duke Ellington at the Standish Hall Hotel, Hull, Québec [MIKAN 3606806]

A black-and-white photograph of the Standish Hall Hotel in Hull, Quebec. A man in a hat and a trench coat is holding a case and standing on the right side of the building.

Exterior view of the Standish Hall Hotel Hull, Québec [MIKAN 3606795]

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Images of Point Pelee National Park and Pelee Island now on Flickr

A black-and-white photograph of Kathleen Hart and Dave Phipps sunbathing on the beach.

Kathleen Hart and Dave Phipps sunbathing on the beach at Point Pelee National Park, Ontario. [MIKAN 4297909]

Point Pelee National Park is located in southwestern Ontario. The park is a peninsula that extends into Lake Erie and consists of marsh and woodland that are home to diverse flora and fauna. In 1918, Point Pelee was the first national park created for conservation at the urging of birdwatchers and hunters.

A black-and-white “Plan of the Naval Reserve at Point Pelee in the Township of Mersea..."

“Plan of the Naval Reserve at Point Pelee in the Township of Mersea…,” Ontario. [MIKAN 3670979]

A black-and-white map of Point Pelee Island, Ontario.

Point Pelee Island, Ontario. [MIKAN 3670898]

Pelee Island is the largest island in Lake Erie and lies southwest of Point Pelee National Park, but is not part of the park. The island is abundant with wildlife and is an important flyway for migrating birds between Ohio and Ontario. The island also has a long history of wine making.

A black-and-white photograph of a Pelee Island wine vat now used as a water reservoir.

Pelee Island wine vat now used as a water reservoir, Pelee Island, Ontario. [MIKAN 3642953]

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Images of blacksmiths now on Flickr

Blacksmiths manipulate iron or steel to create objects, such as tools, household goods, and art. They use specific tools to hammer, bend, or cut metal heated in a forge.

A black-and-white photograph of a man hammering a piece of metal at the Jolly Blacksmith shop.

Interior of Jolly Blacksmith shop, Ottawa, Ontario [MIKAN 3265334]

Many blacksmiths travelled to Canada during the mid-17th century to help build the trading posts of the Hudson’s Bay Company and its rival, the North West Company. As settlements grew, these metalworkers working in their workshops became an important technological and industrial hub of business and trade. They honed their skills to specialize in different domains. For example, a farrier was a blacksmith who specialized in the care and trimming of horses’ hooves, including shoeing them with horseshoes they created.

A black-and-white photograph of thirteen men posing for a group picture in front of the blacksmith shop.

Blacksmith shop, Harris Camp, Peter Co., Parry Sound, Ontario [MIKAN 3300810]

A black-and-white photograph of three soldiers watching a blacksmith shoeing a horse.

Personnel of the 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade watching a blacksmith shoeing a horse, Creully, France [MIKAN 3229115]

Around the mid-19th century, blacksmiths expanded their roles and continued to offer multiple services related to ironwork into the early 20th century.

A black-and-white photograph of a man in heating a horseshoe in a forge.

Harper Rennick heating a horseshoe, Shawville, Quebec [MIKAN 4948714]

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Images of Tartans and Kilts now on Flickr

A colour photograph of a smiling girl wearing a tam and tartan shoulder accessory.

Betty Chan at Scottish games, Winnipeg, Manitoba. [MIKAN 4302026]

Tartan is a multicoloured cloth pattern of criss-crossed horizontal and vertical bands. Traditionally, tartan is made with wool, but other kinds of materials may be used. Scotland and kilts in particular are associated with tartan patterns; however, the steady immigration of Scots to Canada created a special environment for tartan in this country. Cultural events, such as Highland games across Canada, showcase the various patterns seen in kilts, jackets, blankets and clothing accessories. For less traditional clothing, these patterns are often referred to as plaid. There are unique Canadian tartans, such as the provincial and territorial patterns, most of which are registered with the Court of the Lord Lyon. This court regulates Scottish heraldry, including tartan patterns. Canada’s green, gold, red and brown tartan, known as the “maple leaf,” became an official national symbol in 2011.

A black-and-white photograph of two women at a loom. The woman sitting on the left holds a shuttle. The woman standing on the right inspects the tartan pattern and weave.

Tartan being woven, St. Ann’s, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. [MIKAN 4948510]

A black-and-white photograph of two girls who are standing and wearing tams, matching jackets and kilts.

Two girls dressed in kilts at Highland games, Antigonish, Nova Scotia. [MIKAN 4315223]

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Pre-Confederation Land Patents issued by the Registrar General

By Rebecca Murray

Reference Services frequently receives requests about land patents in Canada. Here, we will focus on pre-Confederation land documents. Be sure to refer also to Crown land patents: Indian land sales for more information. The next post on land patents will focus on post-Confederation land patents.

What is a Land Patent?

Land patents are issued by the Crown to grant or confirm title to a portion of land. They represent the first title to land, and serve as proof that the land no longer belongs to the Crown.

How Do I Find a Land Patent?

As this is a challenging request even for practiced archivists, this post will guide you through an example of how to approach this type of research from home or while onsite at Library and Archives Canada (LAC).

Step 1:

Start with the information you have: a date, a location, a person or organization (patentee). It is preferable to proceed with all three pieces of information (especially the date), but you can find the answer with one or more of the pieces of information.

Example:

  1. Date (specific or general): June 7, 1856
  2. Location (detailed or general): Lot 8, Range 3, east of Plank Road, Township of Seneca
  3. Patentee: David Patterson

Step 2:

With the patentee and date, or the date and location, you can look at the Indexes to Indian and Ordnance Land Patents (nominal [by name] and geographical indices) for the period 1845–1867 found in RG68, volume 911, microfilm reel M-1638. With the patentee and location, you can consult either the nominal or the geographical indices but without the date, you will have to perform a wider search using the General Index.

In this case, I found an entry for David Patterson in the Indexes to Indian and Ordnance Land Patents (RG68 volume 911, microfilm reel M-1638) and noted that the corresponding entry would be found in Liber EO (some libers are titled by letters rather than numbers), on folio 172.

Step 3:

Once you know the liber (register) and folio (page number), you need to find that liber within RG68 records. There are two options for continuing your search:

Web-Based Search

  1. Perform a search for “finding aid 68-2” in Enhanced Archives Search–Advanced. Beside the first box “Any Keyword,” click the down arrow and change to “Finding Aid Number” and enter “68-2” in the empty box to the right.
  2. Click SUBMIT.
  3. Filter results for a specific decade of interest and/or add another search term such as “land” in the second search box, or liber number (found in the file number field).

Many records for this period are available on digitized microfilm. Search Héritage to see if the reel has been digitized.

Onsite at LAC

When onsite at 395 Wellington St., you can use paper finding aid 68-2 to look up the liber number and find the corresponding volume and microfilm reel numbers. Microfilm reels are also available for self-serve consultation in room 354.

A black-and-white reproduction of an official Province of Canada document describing the exact location and size of the land grant.

Land patent confirming title to land granted to David Patterson in Haldimand County, dated June 8, 1856. (RG68 volume 231, file EO, page 172)

How to Use the Key to the General Index / the General Index

If your date does not fall in the 1845 to 1867 period, or you are unsure of the date, you can rely on the Key to the General Index for 1651–1867 to identify entries in the General Index related to the individual in question.

Paper copies of the Keys and General Indices for the pre-Confederation period are also available in the 2nd floor Reference Room of 395 Wellington St. Please keep in mind that the General Index applies to all types of documents produced by the Registrar General, not just land documents. Hence the importance of using the Key to the General Index to expedite your search.

For example, the Key to the General Index for the period 1841–1867 can be found in RG68 volume 896, which is available on microfilm reel C-2884. The Key to the General Index is organized by name. Find the individual in question and copy down each pair of numbers next to the name, as they will allow you to locate the relevant entries in the corresponding General Index. The pair of numbers is associated with two columns: the “No.” column indicating the “line number” and the “Folio” column indicating “page.” This allows you to jump directly to the correct page of the General Index and locate the corresponding entry. From this line, you get more information, namely the liber and folio numbers necessary to locate the patent itself. For example, in the image, take note of the first pair of numbers associated with the Rev. James Cochlan and wife: “4” and “680.”

A black-and-white reproduction of a nominal index with a few columns: Name, No., Folio, No., Folio, etc.

Excerpt from the Key to the General Index for 1651–1841 (RG68 volume 893), showing the liber (No.) and folio numbers associated with each name (RG 68, Volume 893 on Canadiana). Take note of the first pair of numbers associated with the Rev. James Cochlan and wife: “4” and “680.”

A black-and-white reproduction of a ledger with five columns: No., Lib, Folio, Date and Surrenders.

Excerpt from the General Index for (RG68 volumes 894 and 895), showing the entry on line 4 of page 680. The liber and folio for the document in question are “KM” and “6.”

After identifying the liber and folio numbers using the General Index you can review Step 3, from home or onsite, to determine the complete reference for the patent including the microfilm reel number.

It can be very challenging to navigate this research; please try it on your own, but do not hesitate to contact us if you need any assistance!


Rebecca Murray is a Reference Archivist in Reference Services 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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