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.Visit the Flickr album now!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our latest podcast episode is now available. Check out Get Your Summer Read On, Part 2.
The TD Summer Reading Club is Canada’s biggest bilingual summer reading program. Developed by the Toronto Public Library, in partnership with Library and Archives Canada, this free program highlights Canadian authors, illustrators and stories. The goal of the program is to foster literacy by encouraging kids aged 12 and under to read during the summer months.
In the second of this two-part episode, we talk with the TD Summer Reading Club French author for 2018, Camille Bouchard. Camille has been a children’s author since the 1980s, and has written over 100 books! He has also won multiple awards, including a 2005 Governor General’s Award for his book, Le Ricanement des hyènes. We also talk with a special surprise guest during this episode—a famous Canadian writer who was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, and once served as Canada’s National Librarian.
Subscribe to our podcast episodes using RSS, iTunes or Google Play, or just tune in at Podcast–Discover Library and Archives Canada: Your History, Your Documentary Heritage.
For more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Laura Brown
Forty-one-year-old Alice Isaacson had accomplished a lot by the time she joined the Canadian Army Medical Corps (CAMC) as part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) in 1916. The Irish-born, American-trained nurse had eight years of nursing supervisor experience under her belt, as well as a year of service with the 23rd General Hospital of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in Étaples, France. A reference letter penned by a Medical Officer, likely in support of her transfer from the BEF to the CEF, described her as “skillful, energetic and reliable” and as an individual who was undaunted by large tasks. On one occasion she was responsible for looking after 120 seriously ill patients with little assistance. One of the few things she had not yet learned to do was ride a bicycle, but this, too, would be tackled with determination before her return home at the end of the war.
Alice kept several diaries during her service overseas, which included postings in France at the No. 2 Canadian General Hospital at Le Tréport and the No. 6 Canadian General Hospital at Troyes. Her writings and an insightful photo album are now part of her fonds held at Library and Archives Canada (LAC). These records, as well as other private and government collections, such as the Department of National Defence fonds, are some of the examples of the valuable archival resources at LAC that document the history of women’s service in Canada’s military.
Only a few nurses were part of the Canadian Army Medical Corps at the start of the First World War in 1914, but numbers soon increased as civilian nurses were eager to transfer their skills into the military context. In total, more than 3,000 nurses served in the CAMC, including 2,504 overseas in England, France, and at Gallipoli, Alexandria and Salonika in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Nursing was the only means by which women were permitted to serve in the Canadian military during the First World War. To enlist, nurses had to be single, British subjects (which included Canadians at the time), in good health, between the ages of 21 and 38, and have qualifications from a recognized nursing school. If accepted, recruits were commissioned as officers with the rank of lieutenant, which is notable as Canada was the only country in the world to rate nurses as officers at the time. Canadian nurses were addressed with the traditional title of “Nursing Sister”, and enjoyed a number of benefits in their positions, including good wages and leave. The head nursing sister, known as the Matron-in-Chief, was in charge of all the nurses in the service. Margaret Macdonald of the CAMC was given this title, and was the first woman to hold the rank of major in the whole of the British Empire.
Military nurses faced a multitude of new experiences that contrasted to their work in the civilian context, whether it was sleeping in a tent, shifting to a new posting at short notice, or making do with limited supplies. Improvising and adapting to changing circumstances was necessary, as nurses might face quiet wards with a few patients one day, and masses of incoming and outgoing patients the next. These women saw first-hand the bodily harm caused by the era’s modern warfare, including shrapnel and poison gas, and witnessed a loss of life that few could have predicted when they first enlisted.
Nurses were not permitted to serve in trenches and most were posted well back from the front lines, working in general or convalescent hospitals. However, some were tasked closer to enemy action. Alice Isaacson noted the coveted nursing positions at casualty clearing stations (advance units along the evacuation routes between front lines and hospitals) in her diary, while posted at No. 2 Canadian General Hospital in September 1917: “Such an exciting afternoon today! . . . Sisters Jean Johnston, S.P. Johnson and Riddle are to go to CCS tomorrow morning! Sisters Hally and Villeneuve are heartbroken at being left here – But we are all glad these sisters have their chance for CCS at last.”
Nurses made significant contributions to the war effort in their care of ill and injured soldiers, a duty that extended after the armistice on November 11, 1918. The “Spanish flu” influenza pandemic that began at the end of the war and spread through military camps placed further demands on nurses. Close to 1,500 nursing sisters were still serving with the CAMC by mid-1919. Lillias Morden, a nurse from Hamilton, Ontario, was one of them. She joined the CAMC in 1916, served in England and France, and assisted with demobilization efforts at the end of the war. Morden did not leave her military position until November 1920.
While nurses such as Alice Isaacson and Lillias Morden made it home after the First World War ended, some nursing sisters were not as fortunate. Part II of this blog post will explore how the conditions under which nursing sisters served could be dangerous, with some paying the ultimate price.
- Database: Personnel records of the First World War
- Examples of sources about nursing sisters that are in LAC’s collection and in other institutions can be found on LAC’s Nursing Sisters blog post (published July 23, 2015) and web page, The Call to Duty: Canada’s Nursing Sisters. Also check out one of LAC’s recent private acquisitions: Luella Blanche Lee fonds. Nursing Sister Lee served in hospitals in France and the United Kingdom during the First World War.
- “O” prefix, and “M” prefix are sub-sub-series under the Canadian War Records Office photographic Collection, which documents the activities of the CEF during the First World War. This rich photographic collection contains a variety of images related to nursing sisters, including accommodations, leisure activities, portraits, and funerals.
- Geneviève Allard’s “Caregiving on the Front: The Experience of Canadian Military Nurses During World War I” in On All Frontiers: Four Centuries of Canadian Nursing. Christina Bates, Dianne Dodd and Nicole Rousseau (eds.). Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2005, p. 153–167 (Chapter 10).
- Cynthia Toman, Sister Soldiers of the Great War: The Nurses of the Canadian Army Medical Corps. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2016.
In April 2018, Library and Archives Canada launched Co-Lab, a new collaboration tool, for the public to contribute by transcribing, tagging and interacting with historical records. Now we are adding a new challenge: showcasing the personal files of some of Canada’s nursing sisters who served in the First World War. You can get started right away!
Laura Brown is a Military Archivist in the Government Archives Division.
Race (noun) – a competition between runners, horses, vehicles, boats, etc., to see which is the fastest in covering a set course.Yes, Canadians race through all kinds of weather and situations too! Visit the Flickr album now!
As of today, 601,736 of 640,000 files are available online in our Personnel Records of the First World War database. Please visit the Digitization of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Service Files page for more details on the digitization project.
Library and Archives Canada is digitizing the service files systematically, from box 1 to box 10686, which roughly corresponds to alphabetical order. Please note that over the years, the content of some boxes has had to be moved and, you might find that the file you want, with a surname that is supposed to have been digitized, is now located in another box that has not yet been digitized. So far, we have digitized the following files:
- Latest box digitized: Box 10331 and last name Whittey.
Please check the database regularly for new additions and if you still have questions after checking the database, you may contact us directly at 1-866-578-7777 for more assistance.
On June 15, 2018, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and Glenbow Museum come together in Calgary, Alberta, to officially celebrate the beginning of a very successful collaboration. March 10th marked the opening of the first in a series of five co-curated exhibitions. All of the exhibitions feature portraits from LAC’s collection. In some cases, they also include portraits from Glenbow’s collection.
This exciting collaboration provides the opportunity for more Canadians to see many of Canada’s most important national treasures: all of the exhibitions will be presented at Glenbow, in Calgary. Each of the exhibitions in the series has a different theme related to portraits and portraiture.
A special kind of portrait
The first exhibition in the series focuses on one of the most fascinating types of portrait: images that artists create of themselves. The proliferation of mirrors during the 15th century is said to have contributed to the popularization of artist self-portraits. When artists hold the mirror to themselves, it is very difficult not to be drawn in.
Artist self-portraits are particularly intriguing because they appear to give privileged insight into the creative process. They are also exciting for their variety. The choice of medium is just one way in which artists have experimented with self-portraits, over the years, as statements of creative identity.
The exhibition includes 17 historical and modern self-portraits of Canadian artists, drawn from LAC’s collection. There are examples of video and sculpture self-portraiture as well as paintings, drawings and prints.
Many faces, many stories
A stand-out self-portrait in the exhibition is this sculpture by Inuit artist Floyd Kuptana.
It is important to view this self-portrait from a variety of angles. The playful stone sculpture smiles, when viewed from one angle, and sticks out his tongue when viewed from another:
The humour in this self-portrait masks a much more serious exploration of self, on a variety of levels. Kuptana created this self-portrait with traditional ideas as well as modern ones. The multiple faces and angles reflect shamanic beliefs about transformation. Yet, the idea of multiple personalities, within one self, is also associated with modern psychology.
The exhibition provides a chance to see a portrait that remains at the centre of one of Canadian art history’s most interesting unresolved mysteries. Certain scholars feel strongly that this portrait, created by important British Columbia artist Emily Carr, is a rare, early self-portrait. However, others have argued that this drawing is merely an image Carr may have made of somebody else.
Most agree that Carr created the drawing when she was an art student in London, United Kingdom. The drawing is done in a traditional academic style, not typical of Carr’s later work, but very much typical of a student demonstrating her mastery.
Those who believe this to be an image of Carr herself point to the strong resemblance between the drawing and contemporary photographs of her. They acknowledge that Carr was notoriously prudish and thus unlikely to pose with bare shoulders. However, they point out that it would be quite common, in women’s drawing classes of the day, to practise drawing the human form from suitably draped ancient classical sculptures. An artist could place their own head on a body copied from one of these unexceptionable nudes.
The exhibition invites you to judge for yourself.
A western connection
The exhibition provides a chance for LAC to present self-portraits that have a particular connection to Calgary.
One example is this amusing self-portrait by Calgary-based artist Gary Olson.
The image is part of a series created by Olson while he was a college art instructor. He came up with these lighthearted images to convey the difficult theoretical art concept of the picture plane to his students. He portrays the plane literally, in these images, by flattening and distorting his own features against it. At the same time, Olson takes the opportunity to poke fun at the theory of art, capturing something of his own irreverent desire to push the envelope
Come see the exhibition
Be sure to visit The Artist’s Mirror, if you happen to be in Calgary. The exhibition runs from March 10, 2018 to January 6, 2019 and is open every day. For more information, please contact Glenbow Museum.
By John Morden
This week in the blog series on Canadian Victoria Cross recipients, we honour corporal Thomas Kaeble, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his valour on the battlefield on June 8 and 9, 1918. His actions took place 100 years ago today.
Joseph Thomas Kaeble was born on May 5, 1893, in Saint Moise, Quebec. Prior to the First World War, he served as a machinist. He enlisted in the 189th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force on March 20, 1916, and on November 12, 1916, transferred to the 22nd French Canadian Battalion. The following year, in April, Kaeble was wounded and admitted to hospital. He was released from hospital shortly after, in May. While in hospital, he was promoted to the rank of corporal.
Kaeble earned the Victoria Cross during the 1918 Spring Offensive, Germany’s last gamble for victory on the Western Front. On the evening of June 8, 1918, while the 22nd Battalion was stationed near Neuville-Vitasse in France, the German army launched a raid against the Canadian lines. The attack was preluded by a blistering German bombardment, which left the Canadians stunned. Afterwards, a wave of 50 German soldiers came towards Kaeble’s position. With most of his comrades injured from the bombardment, Kaeble got out of the parapet, and, with a Lewis machine gun, held off the German onslaught on his own. Despite being hit several times, he held the attackers at bay until he was finally knocked back into his trench, severely wounded. While laying wounded, he was reported to have said to his brothers in arms: “Keep it up boys; do no let them get through! We must stop them!” (London Gazette, 30903, September 16, 1918)
In that battle, Kaeble suffered compound fractures in both legs, both arms, as well as a fractured hand and neck. In the end, the German raid was repulsed by the 22nd, to large extent because of Kaeble’s valiant stand.
Corporal Kaeble would die of his grievous wounds on June 9, 1918. Along with the Victoria Cross, he was also awarded the Military Medal for his actions in France. He was the first French Canadian to be awarded the Victoria Cross.
Kaeble’s legacy holds strong in Canada. He is honoured, among others, with a bust in Ottawa’s Valiants Memorial. In November of 2012, a new patrol vessel, the CCGS Caporal Kaeble V.C., was presented to the Canadian Coast Guard.
Library and Archives of Canada holds the digitized service file of Corporal Joseph Kaeble.
John Morden is an honours history student from Carleton University doing a practicum in the Online Content Division at Library and Archives Canada.
By Caitlin Webster
After providing service for many years from a suburban warehouse, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) Vancouver is celebrating six months at its new public service point at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch.
Since 1992, LAC clients in British Columbia had been travelling to the Western Canada Regional Service Centre in Burnaby to consult archival records in reading rooms set up within the vast facility.
More recently, LAC began a project to redefine our national presence, in an aim to broaden services outside Ottawa, collaborate more closely with local memory institutions, and have greater visibility and impact across the country. One result of these efforts has been the establishment of co-location arrangements for LAC offices in Halifax and Vancouver.
Following closely on the successful establishment of LAC‘s public service point in Halifax, the LAC Vancouver office implemented its co-location partnership with the Vancouver Public Library VPL. LAC launched its public service point in the central branch of VPL on November 8, 2017, with a Signatures Series interview featuring former Prime Minister Kim Campbell. At this public service site, LAC Vancouver provides in-person orientation and reference services, as well as kiosks for LAC research tools and subscription databases such as Ancestry.ca.
In the first six months of service, LAC staff have assisted clients with questions on a variety of subjects, including Scottish emigration agents, the first Chinese Ambassador to Canada, evolving land-title laws, Indigenous genealogy, and the history of local buildings and other sites.
In addition, given the ongoing needs of the local community regarding Indigenous claims, treaties and other subjects, LAC Vancouver continues to provide access to original archival records of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada from British Columbia and Yukon. LAC Vancouver provides reference, Access to Information and Privacy review, consultation, reprography, and other services for this selection of archival records at another site, next door to VPL‘s central branch.
Since the move to this new location, interest in on-site document consultation has risen dramatically. The amount of archival material consulted by clients has increased by 54 percent, and the number of pages copied or scanned for clients has more than doubled!
Collaborative projects are also in the works, including exhibitions, information sessions and learning opportunities. For instance, LAC recently held an Indigenous genealogy workshop in which it highlighted relevant resources. LAC’s goal is to host many sessions like this one, offering diverse services to local clients and making the most of this new partnership.
For details on LAC Vancouver’s hours of service, location, and other information, please visit the Service Points Outside of Ottawa page.
Caitlin Webster is an archivist at LAC Vancouver.
Summer has arrived, and libraries across Canada are inviting kids and their families to Get Your Summer Read On! Kids can register for the TD Summer Reading Club at their local participating library and pick up their free reading kit, which includes a notebook and stickers. There is also a special notebook for kids with print disabilities so they can participate fully. Kids can track their reading throughout the summer, participate in programs at the library, and visit www.tdsummerreadingclub.ca to create an online notebook and read great ebooks. While online, kids can also submit book reviews, share jokes, learn to draw like our illustrator (Anne Villeneuve), write stories, find great recommended reads and much more!
A real impact
The Club is big—and it’s getting bigger every year! A recent tally of TD Summer Reading Club numbers shows the significant impact of the program: over 700,000 kids participated in more than 38,000 programs, which were delivered by over 2,000 library branches across the country. Studies show that kids who keep reading throughout the summer do better when they return to school in the fall. The TD Summer Reading Club is an ideal way for kids to stay engaged.
Kids can read, listen to and comment on two different stories created exclusively for the TD Summer Reading Club, one written in English by author Kevin Sylvester and the other in French by author Camille Bouchard.
Kids can participate anytime, anywhere—at local public libraries across Canada as well as at home, online, on the road or wherever their summer takes them. The TD Summer Reading Club celebrates Canadian authors, illustrators and stories. It’s designed to inspire kids to explore the fun of reading their way—the key to building a lifelong love of reading.
The three libraries designated as Get Your Summer Read On headquarters have events on the following dates:
- June 16: at Bibliothèque Paul-Aimé Paiment, Québec, Quebec
- June 21: Bkejwanong First Nation Public Library, Walpole Island, Ontario
- June 23: Spruce Grove Public Library, Spruce Grove, Alberta
These locations will feature special programming and participation by our partners, including Toronto Public Library, Library and Archives Canada, and TD Bank Group.
TD Summer Reading Club is Canada’s biggest, bilingual summer reading program for kids of all ages, all interests and all abilities. This free program is co-created and delivered by over 2,000 public libraries across Canada. Development of this national, bilingual program is led by Toronto Public Library in partnership with Library and Archives Canada. Sponsorship is generously provided by TD Bank Group.
And now, for something different…
To learn more about this year’s program, check out LAC’s most recent two-part podcast episode: “Get Your Summer Read On!” In part 1 of the episode, we sit down with Kevin Sylvester, the English author for the 2018 TD Summer Reading Club. Kevin is joined by our podcast host, Geneviève Morin, as well as a special co-host, 9-year-old Presley, who is a big Kevin Sylvester fan.
In part 2 of the episode, which comes out on June 19th, we catch up with Camille Bouchard, the French author for the 2018 TD Summer Reading Club. Camille took time to chat with us on the phone as he was travelling across North America in his RV. Part 2 of the episode also features a surprise interview with a famous Canadian writer who once served as Canada’s national librarian. You’ll have to tune in to find out more!