By Jennifer Anderson
As a national memory institution, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) tells stories of national significance, but that does not mean we forget the value of local history.
Home to LAC’s Preservation Centre, the Outaouais region is steeped in history. LAC 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.
The history of the forestry industry is rooted in the Outaouais, and numerous items from the collection make this link evident. Whether it is a “log driver,” the famous draveur of Outaouais legend, working to dislodge logs blocked on the Gatineau River, the lunchtime ambience of the workplace, or the conviviality of an evening of music at the logging camps, the photographs of yesteryear speak to us with an immediacy that belies the passage of time. They also remind us of the long history of cultural diversity in the region, as French-Canadian, Irish, Scottish and Indigenous workers gained employment in the industry.
A logger works to keep logs from catching and jamming in a stream, Gatineau, Quebec, May 26, 1942, Library and Archives Canada, e000760706
Lumberjacks relaxing and sharpening their axes in the bunkhouse at the l’Ange Vin camp, Gatineau, Quebec, March 1943, Library and Archives Canada, e000762608
Joe Commanda, Martin Odjick and an unidentified man at a “nooning,” Gatineau River Valley, 1910, Library and Archives Canada, e011201807
Loggers in the camp bunkhouse enjoy an evening with a little “homemade” music, Gatineau, Quebec, June 1946, Library and Archives Canada, a116682
Today, archival collections related to forestry also speak to us of changes to the natural and built environments, and may suggest avenues for the conservation of flora, fauna and local heritage. Using crowdsourcing tools, historians and residents can help archivists by sharing their knowledge of the area to enhance the archival records for future generations of researchers.
The timber slide, Hull, Quebec, 1855, Library and Archives Canada, c041680k
“Chaudière – Hull side,” date unknown, Library and Archives Canada, a012528-v8
View of the Chaudière Falls, looking across to Hull, Quebec, Library and Archives Canada, a012366-v6
The E.B. Eddy Company buildings, Hull, Quebec, April 1898, Library and Archives Canada, a027997
Some places sound familiar, but from today’s perspective, it is difficult to recognize certain buildings, as they have been lost to calamity or changing urban designs. In some cases, we may feel nostalgia for past eras, and at other moments, we might agree that the change has been positive.
View of the town and the E.B. Eddy store in the distance, Hull, Quebec, ca. 1873, Library and Archives Canada, a012433-v6
Timber boom, Pointe-Gatineau, Quebec, 1935, Library and Archives Canada, a056909
Hull, Quebec, from Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Ontario, ca. 1923, Library and Archives Canada, a031007
Sometimes our photographic records are missing key bits of information, like the names of the people in the photograph! Do you recognize this hard-working nurse or her patient?
A nurse interviews an employee at the E.B. Eddy Company in Hull, Quebec, March 1946, Library and Archives Canada, e002504648
We would not want to give the impression that archives are all work and no play! Frequently, records remind us of the importance of leisure pursuits and recreation. For instance, archival photographs often speak to the sports and tourism industry based in the region.
Skiing in the Gatineau Hills, date unknown, Gatineau, Quebec, Library and Archives Canada, a009250
Picnicking in Brébeuf Park on the Ottawa River near Hull, Quebec, June 1952, Library and Archives Canada, e010948995
A golfer at the Chaudière Golf Club near Hull, Quebec, June 1952, Library and Archives Canada, e010949004
And, with a touch of nostalgia and more than a bit of jazz, archival collections can tell us stories of exciting cultural icons from the past. For instance, our records show that shortly before the 1951 fire that destroyed it, the Standish Hall Hotel received some illustrious visitors. On August 4, 1951, Louis Armstrong, Velma Middleton, and the “All Stars” jazz band played the Standish Hall Hotel, attracting the attention of the musical editor of Time magazine, who flew to Hull to hear them, and to interview Armstrong.
Exterior view of the Standish Hall Hotel, Hull, Quebec, with owner J.P. Maloney standing to the right at the front of the building, between 1941 and 1950. Credit: Michael Berens. Library and Archives Canada, e002343711
Louis Armstrong at the Standish Hall Hotel, Hull, Quebec, August 4, 1951. Credit: Michael Berens. Library and Archives Canada, e002343722
The Standish Hall Hotel, formerly the home of E.B. Eddy, was converted into a concert venue by businessman J.P. Maloney in the 1940s. It attracted big names, including Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington.
Duke Ellington at the Standish Hall Hotel, Hull, Quebec, ca. 1950. Credit: Michael Berens. Library and Archives Canada, e002343721
Sarah Vaughan (centre) with fans and friends at the Standish Hall Hotel, Hull, Quebec, ca. 1950. Credit: Michael Berens. Library and Archives Canada, e002343724
We hope you have enjoyed this walk down memory lane! If you have more information (i.e., dates, names, locations) about any of these photographs, please share them with us on our new crowdsourcing website, Co-Lab: http://co-lab.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng
Jennifer Anderson is an archivist in the Science, Environment and Economy section of the Archives Branch at Library and Archives Canada.