Friday, March 23, 2018

Who Are We

Library And Archives Canada regularly puts on exhibits in its downtown headquarters. Starting last summer for the anniversary year, and ending early this month, the exhibit was titled Canada: Who Do We Think We Are? It addressed where we come from, what we as Canadians think of ourselves, and how we deal with the mythologies and stereotypes that have grown around us (no, we do not all say aboot and eh, our Mounties are not all Dudley Do-Rights, but yes, there is maple syrup in our veins).

Geography is certainly one of our defining characteristics. These period photographs, side by side, are from different parts of the country, capturing the romantic ideal of a vast wilderness. Cape Trinity On The Saguenay is a photograph from around 1880, while The Lookout, depicting a Rocky Mountains scene, dates to sometime between 1960-65.

This map, complete and in intricate detail, was originally done in 1752 by two Frenchmen, Joseph-Nicolas Delisle and Phillippe Buache. It shows New France and the English colonies in great detail, while areas in the west and north of North America become much sketchier. There is no vast western sea in North America, but wishful thinking and the dream of the Northwest Passage kept people imagining such things.

Panels and displays went into detail on Canadian values, including multiculturalism, inclusion, and diplomacy.

I have more from this exhibit tomorrow, but I leave off today with a photograph that is part of the institution's collection. Malak Karsh, one half of the two Karsh brothers who made their name in photography, took this landscape shot of the Ottawa River from the Gatineau shore, where the Museum of History is today. It shows the river during a log drive, with Parliament Hill looming above. Malak's photograph is an iconic image, so much so that for many years it was on our dollar bill, while a portrait of Queen Elizabeth drawn from a photograph done by his brother Yousuf Karsh was on the other side.


  1. This is exciting stuff ... to learn all aboot you guys up there! ;) Seriously, it is a very cool exhibit. You Canadians are a very cool people. Funny, how I've heard so much about Yousuf Karsh and I've seen so many of his photographs, but hardly knew his brother existed.

  2. Oh, good grief, I forgot to mention that fantastic header photo...Zounds! It's tulip time again!

  3. Smiled at seeing the Sikh family in the photo!

    The values wall, though... :)...It seems like there would be too much to say about all the people who live in Canada, how did they condense it to one wall?

    I enjoyed the post today!

  4. Always great to learn about one's past. I could look at maps all day.


  5. ...a great view of spring, bring it on.

  6. A fascinating insight into the Canadian people and land through time!

  7. Love the new header. Spring in Ottawa is lovely!

  8. An interesting collection with the old maps. I like your new header!

  9. @Lowell: Yousuf had the bigger international profile, and Malak wisely chose to pursue landscape photography as opposed to portraits like his brother.

    @Sandi: what surprised me was that the Sikh wedding photo dates to the 1950s.

    @Janis: this one's quite detailed.

    @Francisco: thank you.

    @Tom: spring will come, eventually!

    @Christine: I was glad to get in and check this out.

    @Marie: thanks! This year's tulips will still be a few weeks off.

    @Marleen: thank you!

  10. An interesting display of history. This is how history can be brought to life.

  11. What a wonderful exhibit -- I would love to see this one. Canada is such a rich, diverse and welcoming country. I look forward to more posts!

  12. Marvelous exhibit ~ always good to define one's self/country ~ great photography too!

    Happy Weekend to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  13. The map is interesting. some of it they admit they know nothing about. I wonder how much of the rest of it is just smart guess work.

  14. This sounds like a great exhibit. One that everyone can find something to like.

  15. @Jennifer: I found the exhibition well done.

    @Jeanie: Library And Archives Canada is our equivalent of the Library of Congress. I've been inside before, particularly during our Doors Open event, and it's interesting to see some of what the staff here get to do.

    @Carol: thank you!

    @Red: some of it would be working from what was already known by other parties- Spanish possessions, for instance, were fairly well mapped out, and the Russian coastline too.

    @Sharon: I enjoyed it.

  16. Great to have a exhibit to reveal about your past and about all those who are Canadians. Beautiful header.

  17. We always find out that little bit more about our history at events like this. It's funny how different nationalities get stereotyped.. I can't imagine what other countries make of Aussies 😀

  18. Yo, William ... u changed your header!! awesome shot. well done ... is spring here in Canada? hope so. wish it was here in VA, the temps are still chilly and snow is melting. have a great Friday into the weekend!! ( ;

  19. Great header but I must say it looks a lot like some Dutch parks.

  20. This is a wonderful post about who you wonderful Canadians are, William. I scrolled up and down and enjoyed each exhibit. Thanks for sharing. Jo

  21. I love that old map, William. I have 3 bottles and 1 can of maple syrup in my pantry!

  22. @Nancy: it was quite appropriate for our anniversary year.

    @Grace: we think crocs, Fosters, and g'day, mate!

    @Beth: it's still feeling more like winter, though I think the temperature creeps up above freezing for a handful of hours in the afternoon each day. We've still got snow on the ground.

    @S.C.: yes, our tulip festival will do that. Tulips in the Netherlands will be blooming sooner than they do here. Our festival is a legacy of the Second World War, and a good one. I'll have a lot of tulip posts in May and early June.

    @Whisk: thank you!

    @Jo: you're welcome.

    @RedPat: maple syrup is a must.

    @Norma: it was time for a spring one, even though it doesn't yet feel like spring!

  23. A wonderful exhibition and a great way to share the history. Your header is absolutely beautiful, William. Have a great weekend.

  24. A very enjoyable post for both myself and my husband. Thank you for sharing. He grew up in Michigan and visited Canada often as a young man. I am from Georgia, and have only visited once. Wishing you a nice weekend.

  25. Great new header, William, it seems the Canadian tulips are blooming sooner than the Dutch this spring ... ;-)

  26. I'll look forward to tomorrow. The Northwest Passage was pursued for years and years.

  27. Oh My goodness, your header photo is so beautiful. It has so many blooms.
    Wonderful exhibition. I love maps old or new I just enjoy reading them.

    cheers, parsnip

  28. This looks like a great exhibit. It would be wonderful to see. Multiculturalism and inclusion used to be values in the U.S. It's shocking to see how quickly *rump has worked to undermine it and how his base has eaten it up.

  29. It looks a great exhibition.
    I always like seeing old maps.

    All the best Jan

  30. I find archives so interesting, I am a history nerd lol.

  31. @Bill: thank you.

    @Cloudia: thanks!

    @Anonymous: thank you.

    @Jan: Canadian tulips take until May.

    @Mari: it was.

    @Parsnip: thanks!

    @Kay: I have to check out the current exhibit there.

    @Jan: I do as well.

    @Jenn: it's a good thing to be into.

    @Klara: I thought so!