Friday, August 4, 2017

Artifacts Of The National Story

This rather handsome sleigh is quite a sight here in Canada History Hall.

This portrait was done around 1869 by William Sawyer. William Logan is its subject. Logan was the founder of the Geological Survey Of Canada, created in 1842 to survey the land from sea to sea. The scientific agency is still around today, carrying on the field work that Logan started. Logan's name has long been given to the highest mountain in Canada, found in the Yukon. Around the portrait are several items he owned.

This is a British coat of arms, which stood originally at the Vieux Palais de Justice in Montreal. It dates to the mid 1800s.

This is a bust of Lord Elgin, a governor general during part of the tumultuous years between the 1837 rebellions and the Confederation movement. I've photographed this one before- it was part of a temporary exhibit a year or two ago on that period. 

Three men are grouped together in portraits here, and referred to collectively as the Great Coalition. John A. Macdonald, George Brown, and George-Etienne Cartier were among the brightest lights of the Fathers of Confederation, working to bring together the British North American colonies into one dominion.

Another of their number is close by. This 1868 painting, Thomas D'Arcy McGee, shows the Father of Confederation, orator, and eloquent writer who was assassinated by an Irish nationalist that year. The gun recovered in the case is beneath the portrait.

Shifting back into the First Nations side of things is this item, an elk skin from the 1800s. This was done as a "winter count" by a member of the Blackfoot tribe, an annual record of memorable events told in a circle spinning outward over time. I have seen something similar in a documentary on the American West- it might well be a Blackfoot custom, as that nation is on both sides of the border, or this might have been common in those peoples of the western plains.


  1. A good museum tells stories and this one certainly does that. I don't think I've seen a "winter count" hide before. It looks fascinating.

  2. I love that sleigh! And I wonder when the British changed the unicorn for a lion on their coat of arms? Personally I prefer the unicorn.

  3. Hello, great museum and exhibit. I like the sleigh and the elk skin is interesting! Happy Friday, enjoy your weekend!

  4. nice that they have been preserved.

  5. neat skins ... very cool. happy happy friday to ya! ( :

  6. @Kay: Ken Burns produced a documentary that featured it.

    @Debs: the unicorn and lion are often together in the Canadian context.

    @Halcyon: a lot of it!

    @Eileen: thank you.

    @Tom: I agree.

    @Beth: thanks!

  7. Very interesting exhibits! It is really strange that the rains have avoided our area all summer. Not good. Thanks for visiting and I hope you have a great August!

  8. The sleigh is a work of art itself William, William Logan was a splendid looking gentleman ☺

  9. I was familiar with Mt Logan but not the man. He started this before the Palliser investigation which makes it all the more significant..

  10. That sleigh is beautiful. So many stories to tell here.

  11. What an interesting array of artifacts you show us here, William. But the best item (and one I have never heard of) is the elk skin which is a "winter count" Amazing stuff! Thanks for sharing. Have a great day. Jo

  12. Wonderful photos
    The sleigh is stunning. It almost looks like it can fly. The elk skin is beautiful.

  13. Oh that sled is beautiful!

  14. @Pamela: thank you!

    @Linda: me too.

    @Grace: very distinguished fellow.

    @Red: he has quite a legacy to his name.

    @Sharon: it's a wealth of stories, this museum.

    @Jo: I was surprised to see it. I've only seen the idea of it in a documentary. And that might have been a buffalo robe instead of an elk skin, but the premise is the same.

    @Maywyn: thank you!

    @Carolann: it is indeed.

  15. I love the whole concept of the winter count!

  16. Lots of interesting history, very nice, William.

  17. Canada's history is well-documented.

  18. Love museums. Yes. the American Indians did the same. Some would use a buffalo hide though.

  19. Oh my that sleigh is wonderful.
    Happy Weekend Wishes

    All the best Jan

  20. What a gorgeous sleigh. I can only imagine what a fantastic ride that would have been back in the day. Thank you, another great post!

  21. It is difficult to understand the racism of the past.

  22. @RedPat: so do I.

    @Bill: that it is.

    @Norma: fairly well so.

    @Mari: I know the Blackfeet range went into the States.

    @Jan: that it is.

    @Tanya: me too.

    @Denise: you're welcome.

    @Jan: very much so.

    @Jennifer: true.