Sir Wilfrid Laurier had the largest unbroken term of office as Canada’s seventh prime minister. He was considered one of Canada’s greatest politicians, full of charisma, charm and passion, qualities that served him well in office, and also in his personal life. This passion is seen in many of the letters he wrote to his wife Zoé. But perhaps we gain a deeper insight into his character through his letters to Émilie Lavergne.
Canadian War Artists brings together the portraits of eighteen Canadian war artists who painted during the Second World War. These portraits, from the collections of Library and Archives Canada are accompanied by short biographies.
Craigellachie, British Columbia, located near Eagle Pass in the Rocky Mountains, is where Donald Smith, on November 7, 1885, drove the symbolic “last spike” in a ceremony marking the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). The CPR company was incorporated in 1881 to construct a transcontinental railway connecting British Columbia with the rest of Canada upon the province’s entry into Confederation. It was four years of dangerous work and controversies, with thousands of workers, including 15,000 temporary Chinese labourers, laying ties and rails, hammering spikes and exploding pathways through the mountains. The result of this hard labour was a country joined by transportation and enhanced communication—thanks to greater ease of mail delivery and telegraph lines that were built along the railway—and moving steadily into the twentieth century.
The Altona Haggadah, a colourful handwritten and hand-illuminated manuscript on paper, created in 1763, is one of the treasures of the Jacob M. Lowy Collection at Library and Archives Canada (LAC).
The Haggadah, which means “telling” in Hebrew, is an important text in the Jewish tradition that is used during the Passover Seder, a ceremonial meal held in Jewish homes to commemorate the Israelites’ liberation from Egypt. It is a compilation of biblical passages, prayers, hymns and rabbinic literature.
You can also find incunabula (books printed before 1500), Bibles, ancient Jewish manuscripts and about 80 other Haggadot (plural of Haggadah) in LAC’s collection.
The United Nations declared October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child, which recognizes the challenges that girls face each day from discrimination and abuse around the world.
Canada continues to fight for girls’ rights to equality, freedom and education.
Paul-Émile Miot, a French naval officer and photographer, entered the Naval Academy in Paris in 1843 and spent the next 49 years sailing around the world on the high seas. He spent five of those years working in Newfoundland, visiting the east coast of North America on five separate hydrographic missions between 1857 and 1862. On his first trip, he captured 40 photographs related to the cod industry and took portraits of Mi’kmaq peoples, as well as views of rivers and forests. This series is the first photographic reporting of Newfoundland using an ethnographic perspective.
After his campaign in Newfoundland, he rose through the ranks and participated in several naval campaigns to different areas of the world, all the while taking photographs. He retired from active service in 1892 and was named Curator of the Musée de la marine et de l’ethnographie at the Louvre in 1894. He died in Paris in 1900.
The origin of the game of tennis can be traced back to the 11th century in France, where it was played on an indoor court. At first, players of the game used their hands to hit the ball. Then racquets were introduced in the 15th century and were eventually popularized in England during the mid-19th century. Playing tennis on a rectangular court and serving the ball from a baseline became the standard format.
Tennis was quickly adopted in Canada during the 1870s. Within a span of 6 years, the first tennis club was formed in Toronto (1875), the first Canadian tennis tournament was held at the Montreal Cricket Club (1878), and the first indoor tennis tournament was held in Ottawa (1881). The 1880s began with clubs forming across the country in major cities followed by tennis courts cropping up in the backyards of private homes.
The Canadian Lawn Tennis Association was formed in 1890 contributing to the development of the sport and the participation of Canadians in international events, such as the Davis Cup. Canada’s tennis enthusiasts organized under the umbrella of Tennis Canada, which supports the sport from a recreational level up to international competitions. This support is one of the many reasons why tennis is so popular across the country.
Did you know that Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has a rich collection of cookbooks? Our culture and technology have shaped these books and recipes over time, and it affected our relationship with food and cooking throughout our history.
Long distance travel across Canada was initially done via rivers and lakes. Overland excursions were difficult due to the harsh terrain and thick bush that travellers encountered. Early road systems serviced the immediate areas, such as villages, towns, or larger urban settings. Many were built for military use.
Despite the terrain challenges, fees or taxes were collected from citizens and put toward road construction and maintenance. Roads began to complement waterways for the transport of people and goods. One of the earliest road types was the corduroy or skid road. Main pathways between settlements were planked with logs placed side-by-side and perpendicular to the pathway. These rudimentary roads aided travel inland during harsh weather, or on rough terrain, and opened up new settlement areas across Canada.
Firefighters have the intense job of fighting and extinguishing fires that threaten lives, property, and the environment. Their schedule is demanding and the work is dangerous, but the service they provide is crucial. Fire has been as much a danger to human life as it has been essential to advance society.
Firefighting in Canada began as a collective effort. Citizens and soldiers worked together to fight flames with water and axes. New settlements in Canada were constructed with wood, in tight quarters, leaving them vulnerable to the very fire used by settlers to heat their homes and cook their food. Firefighting evolved to deal with the threat of fire, with the first organized fire department opening in Halifax in 1754 and the first fire engine operating in Montreal in 1765.
Established towns continued to enhance their capabilities, creating volunteer firefighting companies after the 1824 Upper Canada Parliament fire. Firefighting transitioned into a career after the addition of new machinery, equipment and horses required a full-time staff. A shift toward relatively sophisticated fire protection occurred at the end of the 19th century with the introduction of improved building codes, professional fire departments, fire hydrant systems, steam fire engines and horse-drawn apparatus. Firefighting has since continued to evolve in the face of new challenges.