Images of Potatoes now on Flickr

A black-and-white photograph of a man collecting potatoes in a field and filling a basket.

A potato harvest, New Brunswick [e011176012]

Potatoes are native to South America and date back many thousands of years.

A black-and-white photograph of a man riding a potato planter pulled by two horses.

A potato planter, Leeds County, Ontario [PA-043221]

Spanish conquistadors brought back potato samples to Europe during the 1500s. However, it was not until the 1700s that views toward the tuber had changed. No longer a curiosity from South America, the potato was cultivated as a stable and ample food source. Farming of the tuber spread slowly across Europe and eventually to North America.

A black-and-white photograph of four men examining potatoes on a small conveyor belt in a barn.

Master Farmer Lewis Winterburn and three men examining potatoes on a conveyor belt during the potato harvest [e010950952]

Cultivation of potatoes occurs in every Canadian province. The largest-scale farming happens in the provinces of Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, and Alberta. The potato ranks among the top global food crops along with rice, wheat, and corn.

A black-and-white photograph of women factory workers involved in the preparation and production of potatoes.

Women working in a factory where potatoes are dehydrated, Kentville, Nova Scotia [e010962111]

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Images of Living Rooms now on Flickr

A black-and-white photograph of a living room furnished with plush chairs, paintings and a couch.

Interior of Sir William Van Horne’s residence [e003641850]

Modern living rooms have replaced the formal parlours and front rooms formerly used to greet and entertain guests.

A black-and-white photograph of man sitting on an area rug with friends. He is leaning against a couch, smoking a cigarette, and writing in a notepad.

A man sitting on the floor of a living room, leaning against a couch, smoking a cigarette and writing on a small notepad [e010968994]

Living rooms now service the full gamut of home life from entertaining guests, reading, listening to and watching audiovisual entertainment, or relaxing. Decor has also evolved to fit spartan tastes, to display artwork, or to indulge in lavish comfort.

A black-and-white photograph of a man sitting in an armchair reading a newspaper. A woman sits on a couch and sews.

J.W. (Ed) Maddocks reading a newspaper in his living room while his wife sews, Toronto, Ontario [e010962433]

A black-and-white photograph of a woman sitting on a couch reading a book beside her poodle. A man sitting at a desk next to the couch reads a magazine.

Dr. Best with his wife Margaret and poodle Dochel, Ontario [e011177240]

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Canadian prime ministers through news photographers’ lenses

By Maude-Emmanuelle Lambert

Library and Archives Canada’s (LAC) Prime Ministers and the Arts exhibition explores the sometimes unusual links between artistic forms of expression and the prime ministers of Canada. In particular, the exhibition includes architectural photographs by Pierre Elliott Trudeau (1958), Jean Chrétien’s playful selfie (Andrew Danson, Unofficial Portraits, 1985) and the large yellow-and-orange canvas by artist Carl Beam (2000), inspired by Lester B. Pearson.

These works reveal what may be an unsuspected artistic side to our prime ministers. They also show how the role and the personality of some prime ministers have—leaving politics aside—inspired a number of artists. Yousuf Karsh, for instance, whose photographs are preserved by LAC, made portraits of prime ministers of many generations and political stripes during his career, including William Lyon Mackenzie King, Robert Borden, Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Joe Clark.

Black-and-white photograph of Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King at his desk. One of the Parliament buildings is visible in the background through a window.

William Lyon Mackenzie King at his desk, March 15, 1947. King sat for Yousuf Karsh starting in 1936. Photograph by Yousuf Karsh (e010752289)

However, some of the most famous and most iconic photos of our prime ministers are not by portrait photographers. Many were taken by news photographers whose names are unfamiliar to the public. Unlike portrait photographers, who have time to plan their background settings and research their subjects, news photographers must be both patient and react quickly. News photographers must often wait for hours before taking the “snapshot” that tells the story of an event, expresses a feeling, or even captures a prime minister’s personality trait on the fly.

You may have seen the famous photograph of Pierre Elliott Trudeau sliding down a bannister like a child! Taken during the Liberal Party of Canada leadership convention in 1968, this photo is one of the most remarkable shots in the career of news photographer Ted Grant. In a book by Thelma Fayle about Grant’s life work, the photographer explains that if he had not heard the laughter of people nearby, he would probably have missed the moment entirely: “The laughter triggered me to turn around and catch three shots before Trudeau was almost on top of me” (Thelma Fayle, Ted Grant: Sixty Years of Legendary Photojournalism, Victoria, Heritage House Publishing, 2013, p. 67-68).

Born in Toronto in 1929, Ted Grant became a photographer in the mid-1950s. Seen by many as a true pioneer in Canadian news photography (some even call him the “father of Canadian photojournalism”), he worked on contract for various newspapers (including the Ottawa Citizen), the National Film Board and the Canadian Government Travel Bureau. During his career, Grant photographed many leadership campaigns, elections (federal and provincial) and first ministers’ conferences. While following the campaign of Progressive Conservative leader Robert Stanfield, Grant befriended a young Joe Clark, the future prime minister, and made connections with his political entourage and family. Many black-and-white photos in the Joe Clark fonds and Ted Grant fonds show Clark during public appearances such as his swearing-in ceremony as well as in more private settings such as working meetings with his principal advisors.

Black-and-white photograph of Joe Clark standing and being sworn in as Prime Minister of Canada. Seated at his side is Governor General Edward Schreyer.

The swearing-in of Joe Clark as the 16th Prime Minister of Canada, June 4, 1979. Photograph by Ted Grant (e010764766)

The special relationship between Ted Grant and the Clarks gave him access to the Prime Minister’s private and family life. The photographer took the very first photos of Catherine, the couple’s only child, and he was invited to informal family gatherings and garden parties. Though Grant was in the room, the Clarks seemed able to ignore his camera. According to Clark’s wife, Maureen McTeer, the photographer knew how to be patient and keep a low profile: “Ted will wait for the photograph. If you are aware of his presence, he will wait until you are not. That is a very unusual quality for a photographer” (Fayle, p. 75). But while Grant captured happy moments, such as the Prime Minister sitting on the floor at 24 Sussex Drive relaxing with his wife and daughter, he also caught times of obvious disappointment, including election night 1980.

Black-and-white photograph depicting Prime Minister Joe Clark with his wife and daughter, sitting on the floor in the living room, in front of a fireplace.

Prime Minister Joe Clark and his family (spouse Maureen McTeer and daughter Catherine) at 24 Sussex Drive (e002712822). This photograph is an excellent example of the exceptional, trusting relationship between the Clark family and photographer Ted Grant. Over several decades, Grant documented many important events in Clark’s career, as well as intimate family moments.

Because news photographers capture an instant, it is not surprising that their photo collections include snapshots of prime ministers in the heat of political action. Consider, for instance, the Louis Jaques photo of a young John Diefenbaker speaking in the House as an MP aspiring to become leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. Or the Robert Cooper photo of John Turner speaking to a crowd during his campaign for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Black-and-white photograph showing MP John Diefenbaker standing and speaking to the House of Commons. Around him, MPs are sitting at their desks.

John Diefenbaker, MP, speaking in the House of Commons, 1948. Photograph by Louis Jaques (C-080883)

Black-and-white photograph of John Turner speaking into a microphone in front of a crowd. A Canadian flag is visible.

John Turner speaking to a crowd in Ottawa, at the Liberal Leadership Convention in 1984. Photograph by Robert Cooper (a152415)

Interestingly, nearly half of the photographs preserved by LAC are in photojournalism collections. Ted Grant’s collection alone includes almost 216,000 black-and-white and colour photographs, photo negatives and contact sheets, while there are 175,000 in the Duncan Cameron collection. Much like Grant, Duncan Cameron began his career as a news journalist in the 1950s. Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Cameron immigrated to Canada in 1954 and covered Parliament Hill for many years, photographing and forming relationships with various political figures. Cameron was also a contract photographer for Time Life Inc. from 1963 to 1976, and he completed his career at the Public Archives of Canada, to which he donated his collection.

Black-and-white photograph showing four former Canadian prime ministers: Pierre Elliott Trudeau, John Turner, Jean Chrétien and Lester B. Pearson.

Pierre Elliott Trudeau, John Turner, Jean Chrétien and Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson after a Cabinet shuffle, April 4, 1967. Photograph by Duncan Cameron (a117107)

In short, the collections created by news photographers not only document Canada’s political history in exceptional ways but also highlight more private times in the lives of Canadian prime ministers. Whether capturing the heat of a moment or a moment of quiet, or the rise or fall of a prime minister, these artists have managed to capture different sides of prime ministers’ personalities.

Black-and-white photograph of Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau taking a photograph

Pierre Elliott Trudeau taking a photograph with one of Duncan Cameron’s cameras, June 28, 1968. Photograph by Duncan Cameron (a175919)


Maude-Emmanuelle Lambert is an archivist in the Private Archives Division, Science and Governance, at Library and Archives Canada.

Images of Microscopes and Telescopes now on Flickr

A colour photograph of a woman in a university classroom looking through a microscope.

A woman looking through a microscope during one of the science classes at Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario [e010975918]

People use microscopes to view objects that are too small to see with the naked eye. Microscope hardware is usually made up of glass lenses, metal or plastic frames for component housing, and an eyepiece. Electron microscopes use electron beams and sensors to create images on a monitor for viewing extremely small objects.

A black-and-white photograph of a man looking through a microscope designed to aid in the detection of counterfeit bills, handwriting and tickets.

A man looking through a specially designed microscope at the RCMP laboratories for detecting counterfeit bills, handwriting and gasoline coupons, Rockcliffe, Ontario [e010962125]

A black-and-white photograph of a man sitting at a table outside during the winter and looking through a telescope up into the sky.

“‘Jake’observing,” one of four photographs captioned on a page from Captain James Peters’ album, Québec, Quebec [e011156605_s2]

Telescopes enable people to see objects far away. Lenses and mirrors work together to magnify objects for viewing. A radio telescope is actually an antenna designed to receive radio waves from astronomical radio sources in space.

A black-and-white photograph of a man looking into the eyepiece of Victoria’s Dominion Astrophysical Observatory Telescope.

The Dominion Astrophysical Observatory Telescope, Victoria, British Columbia [e011180779]

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Dressing Up at Ottawa’s Fancy Dress Balls and Skating Carnivals (1876–1896)

By: Emma Hamilton-Hobbs

Don’t you just love to dress up, spending hours upon hours devoted to selecting, conducting research on, and finally creating an impressive outfit for an exclusive costumed event? Well, many Canadians in the late nineteenth century certainly did!

A fancy dress ball was a private costumed party that grew in popularity over the course of the nineteenth century, hosted and attended primarily by the most privileged members of society. The men and women who received invitations to the events spent weeks upon weeks carefully selecting their costumes, poring over published magazines and books devoted to fancy dress, and even perusing historical books or paintings for inspiration. Popular ideas included historical dress, literary, mythological and allegorical characters, and finally, characters from “exotic” lands.

Newspapers in Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal reported extensively on the major Canadian fancy dress balls, providing detailed descriptions of the various costumes that the elite guests had worn. Many who attended the balls eagerly flocked to photography studios in the days and months following these special occasions to have their portraits taken in costume. Sometimes these portraits were used to create impressive composite photographs, including the one fabricated by Ottawa photographer William James Topley (1845–1930) of the Grand Fancy Ball hosted by Governor General Lord Dufferin and his wife Lady Dufferin in the Rideau Hall ballroom on February 23, 1876.

A group photograph of hundreds of costumed guests at a fancy dress ball. The background is a painting of the Rideau Hall ballroom.

Composite image of the Dufferin Grand Fancy Ball at Rideau Hall on February 23, 1876. The final composite was completed in either May or June. (e008295343).

This composite was created by pasting hundreds of individual portraits taken in Topley’s studio onto a painted scene of the Rideau Hall ballroom, which was then re-photographed to create the final product. Topley learned how to create composite images from his former mentor and employer, William Notman (1826–1891), who owned a successful photography studio in Montreal. Topley, like Notman, was an astute businessman who took full advantage of these vice-regal events to turn a profit, as guests were eager to have their costumed characters preserved in the form of photographic portraits that they could share with family and friends, or paste into personal albums as memorable keepsakes.

Many individuals played up their character in the photography studio, assuming different poses and using a variety of props in their staged portraits. Mr. Campbell posed theatrically as a “Court Jester” when he visited Topley’s studio shortly after the Grand Fancy Ball hosted by the Dufferins had ended. William Campbell was the private secretary to Lord Dufferin and a well-liked staff member.

A black-and-white photograph of a man dressed as a jester and posing in a photography studio. He grasps a puppet on a stand in his right hand.

William Campbell, private secretary to Lord Dufferin, as a “Court Jester” by William Topley, March 1876. (e011091709)

Miss Maggie Jones and Miss Zaidee Cockburn both dressed up as “Bonnie Fishwives of New Haven” at the Dufferins’ Grand Fancy Ball. They attracted some attention throughout the evening, which may have been linked to the lengths of their skirts, which were much shorter than acceptable Victorian dress.

A black-and-white photograph of a young woman dressed up as a “fishwife” and posing in a photography studio. She is shown standing with her left hand resting on her hip, her other hand holding a papier mâché fish and her right foot raised and leaning on a wooden barrel.

Miss Maggie Jones dressed as a “Bonnie Fishwife of New Haven” by William Topley, March 1876 (e011091718).

Fancy dress skating carnivals were also very popular during this time, and, unlike the fancy dress balls, were far more accessible to the average Canadian citizen. In his studio, Topley recreated outdoor skating scenes for his sitters with a painted, snowy backdrop complete with artificial snow and a reflective surface to imitate ice. Women loved to wear peasant or pastoral dress to skating carnivals, as shorter skirts also allowed them to move around freely on skates.

A black-and-white photograph of a woman dressed up in costume as a shepherdess on skates in a photography studio. The backdrop is a painted, snowy scene.

Miss Fraser as a “Shepherdess” by William Topley, February 1889 (a138398)

Allegorical characters were also well represented at the fancy dress balls and skating carnivals. Women dressed as “Night,” “A Hornet,” “The Alphabet,” or even as the “Dominion of Canada,” as represented by Mrs. Juschereau de St. Denis LeMoine at the Dufferins’ ball.

A black-and-white photograph of a woman dressed up as the “Dominion of Canada” in a photography studio. On the front of her dress is the coat of arms of the Dominion surrounded by embroidered maple leaves, with miniature snowshoes on the train of her dress.

Mrs. Juschereau de St. Denis LeMoine as the “Dominion of Canada” by William Topley, March 1876. (e011091705)

A black-and-white photograph of a man dressed up as explorer “Jacques Cartier” in a photography studio.

Mr. Juschereau de St. Denis LeMoine dressed as explorer “Jacques Cartier,” March 1876. (e011091707)

The Historical Fancy Dress Ball hosted by the Governor General, the Earl of Aberdeen, and his wife, Lady Aberdeen, in the Senate Chamber of the original Parliament buildings on February 17, 1896, was another widely reported event. This educational ball featured nine periods in Canadian history, from the Vikings to the Loyalists, enacted by two hundred and fifty individuals in a series of dances at the ball.

A photographic portrait of a group representing the voyages of the Norsemen at the Aberdeens’ ball illustrates how the medium of photography had evolved since the Dufferins’ ball twenty years earlier. Topley, who once again photographed the groups in his studio after the ball had ended, could now take an entire group together as a result of faster exposure times. The scene is also illuminated by natural light streaming in from the skylight seen at the top left of the image.

A black-and-white photograph of a group of seventeen men, women and girls wearing Viking costumes in a photography studio.

A historic group representing the voyages of the Norsemen to Northeastern North America photographed in Topley’s studio. They were the first historic group who performed a lively “polska” at the Historical Fancy Dress Ball hosted by Lord and Lady Aberdeen in February 1896. The young girl seated in the middle is Lady Marjorie Gordon, daughter of the vice-regal hosts, wearing a white and gold dress with her mother’s Celtic jewellery. (a137981).

A souvenir album was created and sold to guests afterward as well, illustrated with photographs of the historic groups taken by Topley (with the exception of one group) and text by historian and civil servant Dr. John George Bourinot, who provided advice and guidance to Lady Aberdeen in the months leading up to the event. Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has a copy of this souvenir album in its collection.

All of the above digitized images were reproduced from original glass plate negatives found in the Topley Studio fonds at LAC. These images, along with many others taken by Topley of guests who attended the Ottawa fancy dress balls and skating carnivals, are available online through LAC’s website.

Reproductions of these original glass plate negatives are on display at the National Gallery of Canada in the Canadian and Indigenous Galleries.


Emma Hamilton-Hobbs is a photo archivist in the Government Archives Division at Library and Archives Canada.

Images of Railway Stations now on Flickr

A black-and-white photograph of the exterior of an Intercolonial Railway station. A train is parked to the left, and a group of people stand on the platform, Pictou, Nova Scotia.

Intercolonial Railway station, Pictou, Nova Scotia [PA-029397]

At one time there were approximately 1,300 railway stations across Canada, which included everything from grand urban stations to small flag stops found in remote areas and in-between cities.

A black-and-white photograph of a group of immigrants on the platform of Union Station, Toronto, Ontario.

Arrival of immigrants at Union Station, Toronto, Ontario [C-047042]

Railway stations were the first buildings passengers stepped into when they arrived or the last building they occupied when they left a town by train. A station serves a variety of purposes: it is the central community hub bringing people together, and it operates as one of the main connections to surrounding areas.

A black-and-white photograph of five men with their baggage, standing outside a small Canadian Pacific Railway station, Leanchoil, British Columbia.

Canadian Pacific Railway station, Leanchoil, British Columbia [PA-023198]

Railway companies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, such as the Canadian National Railway and the Canadian Pacific Railway, designed and constructed attractive stations with diverse and distinctive architecture.

A black-and-white photograph of a trolley car, and horses and carriages outside Windsor Station, Montréal, Quebec.

Windsor Station, Montréal, Quebec [PA-008678]

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Images of Dolls now on Flickr

A colour postcard depicting a doll, a stuffed bear, and a cat in a basket.

Loving Christmas Greeting postcard [e008299729]

Dolls may be figures of humans, or sometimes animals. They have been used in magic rituals, for religious ceremonies, and as toys for children. Dolls are common across countries, cultures and eras.

Indigenous communities in Canada can trace doll making back many generations. The main differences between them are the materials used, including fur, wood, leather or dried materials. Colonial settlers brought dolls with them from china, cloth and leather. Canadian retailers such as Eaton’s sold imported and locally made dolls from 1900 to 1994, and other retailers continue to sell dolls today.

A black-and-white photograph of a woman helping a young child wearing leg braces to walk using parallel bars. A small doll is located at the end of the bars as a focal point for the child.

Mrs. E. Marr, physiotherapist, with Gifford, 2-1/2 years old, at the walking bars in the polio clinic at the Sudbury General Hospital, Ontario [e011175909]

A black-and-white photograph of a boy and a girl holding and examining three dolls.

Children examine Mrs. Betsy Howard’s dolls outside her roadside workshop, Nanoose Bay, British Columbia [e011176293]

The Canadian doll industry blossomed during the early 1910s and into the 1930s. It competed with toy companies in the United States, as well as others around the world. During this time, companies such as the Dominion Toy Company, Commercial Toy and the Bisco Doll Company closed for various competitive reasons. The longest-lasting domestic manufacturer was The Reliable Toy Company, which eventually ended production in the 1990s. New materials to make dolls, such as plastic and vinyl, appeared between the 1930s and 1950s. These are still used now to make dolls, for toys or for art.

A black-and-white photograph of a woman brushing a doll’s hair. The doll’s head is mounted on a wooden peg.

A doll’s head [e011176357]

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Images of Parking now on Flickr

A black-and-white photograph of a double-headed parking meter on a street. In the background there are parked cars and a passing horse-drawn cart.

A horse-drawn carriage passes a double-headed parking meter, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island [e011176837]

The term “park” has its origins in Middle English, Old French, German and Latin. Its original use referred to land used by royalty to keep their game animals safe. “Park” was even used by the military to mean an area where vehicles, supplies and weapons were stored.

Today, the verb form of “park” has a different meaning: a driver stops a vehicle and leaves it temporarily in a “parking lot” or on the side of the road.

A black-and-white photograph of a tree-lined street with a long row of cars parked at an angle along the curbside.

Wellington Street parking area, Ottawa, Ontario [PA-034203]

If you live in a large urban setting, parking is easier said than done, and consumes many commuters’ time! It sometimes seems that there are more vehicles than parking spots in a city.

A black-and-white photograph of a large parking lot filled to capacity at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto.

Parking area at the Canadian National Exhibition, Toronto, Ontario [PA-052987]

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Images of sleep and beds now on Flickr

A black-and-white photograph of a single bed and furnishings at the Coligny Ladies’ College in Ottawa.

Bedroom at Coligny Ladies’ College on the southwest corner of Albert and Bay streets in Ottawa, Ontario [PA-027701]

Sleep is a part of everyone’s life.

A black-and-white photograph of a mother tucking her two sons into bed.

Mrs. Jack Wright tucking her two sons, Ralph and David, into bed at the end of the day, Toronto, Ontario [e000761767]

Human sleep patterns vary, even if our need for sleep does not. People go through great effort to make sleep more comfortable and safer. We even try to sleep more or less, which in turns affects our minds and bodies.

A black-and-white photograph of a man putting his slippers on before getting up from bed.

Major J.J. Busse getting out of bed at Fixed Team Headquarters in Samneua [Xam Neua/Sam Neua], Laos [e010956418]

Ideas about sleep differ from culture to culture, but sleep continually appears in our artwork, photographs and audiovisual materials.

A black-and-white sketch of four men in different sleeping positions.

Sleeping Deputies [e010958639]

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Images of Maple Syrup now on Flickr

Maple syrup is made by boiling down or reducing sap collected from sugar maple, red maple or black maple trees. It is a sweet condiment unique to North America and enjoyed worldwide. The First Nations communities of southeastern Canada and northeastern United States were the first people to collect maple sap and discover its many benefits.

A black-and-white photograph of two men inside a log building boiling down maple sap in trough-like metal containers.

Boiling down maple sap inside a sugar house [e010862109]

First Nations communities taught British and French settlers how to collect sap and make maple syrup. Europeans incorporated the use of iron or copper pots, making it easier to boil the sap longer to create syrup with a thicker consistency.

A black-and-white photograph of Jerry Boyce in a wooded lot of maple trees pouring sap from a collection bucket into a larger can.

Jerry Boyce pouring maple sap from a collection bucket into a larger can [e011176188]

A black-and-white photograph of a farmer delivering large cans of maple syrup by wagon to a train car for shipping. Another man holding a clipboard takes an inventory of the items.

Delivering large cans of maple syrup for shipment by train [e010860379]

Today, Canada is the leading producer and exporter of maple syrup and related maple products, commanding over 70 percent of the global market for these commodities. The province of Quebec alone produces more than 90 percent of Canada’s maple syrup quota.

A black-and-white photograph of a young boy next to a large maple tree taking a sip of sap from a collection bucket.

A young boy takes a sip from a bucket of maple sap [e011177458]

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