Guest curator: James Bone

Banner for the guest curator series. CANADA 150 is in red along the left side of the banner and then the bilingual text: Canada: Who Do We Think We Are? and under that text is Guest curator series.Canada: Who Do We Think We Are?

Canada: Who Do We Think We Are? is a new exhibition by Library and Archives Canada (LAC) marking the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation. This exhibition is accompanied by a year-long blog series.

Join us every month during 2017 as experts, from LAC, across Canada and even farther afield, provide additional insights on items from the exhibition. Each “guest curator” discusses one item, then adds another to the exhibition—virtually.

Be sure to visit Canada: Who Do We Think We Are? at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa between June 5, 2017, and March 1, 2018. Admission is free.


A square sepia stamp. Each corner has the number three indicating the cost. A ring around the center reads, “Canada Postage Three Pence” with a crown between the top words. In the center of the circle is a beaver beside running water with a mountain and trees in the background.

The Three-Pence Beaver designed by Sir Sandford Fleming, 1851 (MIKAN 2184475) ©Canada Post.

The beaver was seen as a good stand-in for the average Canadian: industrious, tenacious… and with great building skills. This is one reason why it appears on the nation’s first postage stamp.


The Three-Pence Beaver designed by Sir Sandford Fleming, 1851

Tell us about yourself

I acquire and process philatelic archives from private, or non-governmental, sources. Although LAC holds the extremely important Post Office Department fonds containing the records of Canada Post, the study of philately is one that happens entirely in the private sphere. So to complement the official records, LAC also collects the records of stamp designers, engravers and artists along with those of printing companies, Canada’s philatelic study societies and prominent philatelic researchers and exhibitors.

I recently represented LAC at the 2016 British North America Philatelic Society Exhibition in Fredericton, New Brunswick where I sought to foster knowledge of LAC’s holdings and how to use them, while also making a pitch that members of the society could have archival records of interest to LAC’s growing collection.

I did not entirely expect to find myself at LAC. After completing my undergraduate studies in 2006, I received a full scholarship for a year to continue my studies in Chinese language at Beijing Normal University in preparation for a planned MA program in Chinese history. However, illness and a change of direction brought me into the workforce. I worked in technical support in London, Ontario and later supervised a technical support team in Montréal for several years before returning to graduate school. Continue reading

Guest curator Meaghan Scanlon

Banner for the guest curator series. CANADA 150 is in red along the left side of the banner and then the bilingual text: Canada: Who Do We Think We Are? and under that text is Guest curator series.Canada: Who Do We Think We Are? is a new exhibition by Library and Archives Canada (LAC) marking the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation. This exhibition is accompanied by a year-long blog series.

Join us every month during 2017 as experts, from LAC, across Canada and even farther afield, provide additional insights on items from the exhibition. Each “guest curator” discusses one item, then adds another to the exhibition—virtually.

Be sure to visit Canada: Who Do We Think We Are? at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa between June 5, 2017, and March 1, 2018. Admission is free.


Les voyages du sieur de Champlain…, Samuel de Champlain, 1613 and its map, the Carte geographique de la Nouvelle Franse faictte par le sieur de Champlain [Geographical map of New France by Samuel de Champlain, 1613]

Les voyages du sieur de Champlain…, 1613 and its map Carte geographique de la Nouvelle Franse faictte par le sieur de Champlain [Geographical map of New France by Samuel de Champlain], engraved by David Pelletier in 1612. (MIKAN 3919638) (AMICUS 4700723)

Les voyages du sieur de Champlain…, 1613 and its map Carte geographique de la Nouvelle Franse faictte par le sieur de Champlain [Geographical map of New France by Samuel de Champlain], engraved by David Pelletier in 1612. (MIKAN 3919638) (AMICUS 4700723)

Explorer Samuel de Champlain saw Canada as a land of potential. He published this book, with an eye-catching map, to advertise its possibilities to investors. The beautiful drawings of plants are probably his own. Continue reading

Introducing LAC’s guest curator blog series and our upcoming exhibition!

Banner for the guest curator series. CANADA 150 is in red along the left side of the banner and then the bilingual text: Canada: Who Do We Think We Are? and under that text is Guest curator series.Over the next year, keep your eyes open for a new and exciting series of blog articles, promoting Library and Archives Canada’s (LAC) upcoming exhibition, Canada: Who Do We Think We Are?, developed in recognition of the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation. The exhibition opens on June 5, 2017, while the year-long blog series starts in January 2017.

Reading the blogs

Through this series, you will hear from staff who helped develop the exhibition, including anecdotes about their work at LAC. The series also includes articles by scholars, experts and ordinary Canadians, who all depend upon LAC’s collection, from across Canada—and even the other side of the globe!

In each article, a different “guest curator” will examine one item from the exhibition. We have come up with four questions, which we have had each of our guest curators answer. The questions give the curators a chance to tell us a bit about themselves, to provide extra information about their item and, finally, to virtually add an item or two to the exhibition.

The guest curator blog series will be published every month, between January and December 2017. Be sure to stay tuned all year, in order to find out who our guest curators are and what they chose.

Visiting the exhibition

And be sure to visit the physical exhibition in downtown Ottawa where you can see these, and many other Canadian treasures, in person. Canada: Who Do We Think We Are? will be on display free of charge at 395 Wellington Street between June 5, 2017, and March 1, 2018.

The exhibition explores different ideas of Canada, and being Canadian, over time.

Some of these ideas will be familiar today, and rather comfortable to us all—something like old, worn-down slippers. The idea of Canada as a “northern” nation, for example, goes right back to the colony’s earliest days. Others may simply seem old fashioned, like a 1944 image of the “typical” Canadian family. And still others may seem wrong, or even shocking, to modern eyes. These include certain past attitudes towards immigration, for example, and the country’s First Nations peoples.

Engraved map of New France. The land mass with trees, mountains and rivers is bordered by the ocean, which depicts ships and sea life. A compass, seal and sun are also included. A scene of First Nations people is set above a band of plant life surrounding the legend.

Carte geographique de la Nouvelle Franse faictte par le sieur de Champlain, 1613 [Geographical map of New France by Samuel de Champlain, 1613]. Samuel de Champlain’s beautiful illustration advertises the land’s wealth to investors (MIKAN 3919638 or AMICUS 4700723)

Continue reading