Library and Archives Canada is releasing its latest podcast episode, “Peter Rindisbacher: Beauty by Commission”.
In this episode, we discuss the life of Peter Rindisbacher, an artist that immigrated to Canada from Switzerland with his family when he was just 15. Living in the Red River Colony from 1821 to 1826, he became the first artist to paint and sketch the Canadian west.
We sit down with Gilbert Gignac, former collections manager at Library and Archives Canada, to talk about Rindisbacher’s transition from Europe to Canada, and the impact he had on Canadian visual culture.
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By William Benoit
Peter Rindisbacher was 15 years old when he immigrated to Selkirk’s Red River settlement in 1821. Already an accomplished artist when he arrived in North America, he produced a series of watercolours documenting the voyage to Rupert’s Land and life in the settlement. His watercolours from the Red River area are among the earliest images of western Canada. Peter Rindisbacher is considered the first pioneer artist of the Canadian and the American West.
Library and Archives Canada is possibly the largest holder of Rindisbacher’s works. Viewing the Rindisbacher watercolours in sequence allows Canadians to appreciate the difficulty of the journey to the Red River.
Departure from Dordrecht under Captain James Falbister, May 30, 1821. The English colonist transport ship Wellington of 415 tons. (MIKAN 2835769)
On May 30, 1821, Rindisbacher and his family left Dordrecht in the Netherlands with a contingent of mostly Swiss emigrants aboard the Lord Wellington, bound for York Factory, in what is now Manitoba, on Hudson Bay. During the sea voyage, Rindisbacher sketched icebergs, the Inuit and other ships. The route would take the settlers past the Orkney Islands and Greenland.
Departure from Dordrecht under Captain James Falbister, May 30, 1821. The English colonist transport ship Wellington of 415 tons (MIKAN 2835770)