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.