Sunday, July 29, 2018

Forging The Nation

This is a bust of James Bruce, the 8th Earl of Elgin, otherwise known as Lord Elgin. He was Canada's Governor General during the years of 1847-54 when strong efforts were underway by the colonial legislatures for responsible government. Noted for his grace under pressure, his achievements in the post included the Reciprocity Treaty with the United States and the ending of the old seignurial system that had been part of life in Quebec. It was his father, Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl, who happened to be the high society miscreant who made off with the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon.

The Grand Coalition is how these three portraits are labeled. In 1864 John A. Macdonald, George Brown, and George-Etienne Cartier joined forces in working for a common confederation of the British North American colonies. All three men would be Fathers of Confederation. Macdonald would be the country's first prime minister.

Another Father of Confederation was Macdonald's friend Thomas D'Arcy McGee, whose portrait hangs nearby. An Irish nationalist in his youth who came around to seeing the value of the British system after coming to the new world, McGee was a renowned writer and speaker whose life was cut short by an assassin's bullet in 1868. The revolver used in the killing is displayed here.

The Charlottetown Conference of 1864 brought together representatives from each of the colonies and laid out the groundwork for Confederation. The Fathers of Confederation stood together at one point for the photographer, who captured this iconic portrait of the group. This photograph is in pretty much every overview book of Canadian history.

This dress dates to the late 1800s, thought to belong to the daughter of Chief Crowfoot of the Siksika, a First Nations people in southern Alberta. 

These items are Haida works, made by a Haida artist whose English name was Charles Edenshaw. A chief of his people as well as an artist in the late 19th century, Edenshaw's work as seen here, in a hat and a totem pole, was part of the effort that allowed his culture to survive in the face of assimilation.

St. Onuphrius Church is a centrepiece here in the museum, a small consecrated Ukranian Catholic church that was erected in 1915 at Smoky Lake, Alberta, northeast of Edmonton. It was common in the latter 19th and early 20th centuries for Ukranian immigrants to build new lives out on the Prairies, among other parts of the country, a legacy that still thrives today. The church was dismantled and re-built here in the museum in 1996, and is still usable for religious services today; have a look at the museum's account of its current status here.  It was part of the permanent galleries before the large scale changes, and has remained in place. You can walk around the entire building and look in through the back windows at the space behind the screens that normally only a priest would have seen.

Schooling in the West during the late 19th and early 20th century is examined here in this section.

With the dawn of the 20th century, the suffrage movement became influential across the country. Items of the time- this cross and banner, as well as the woman's suffrage flag- are displayed.


  1. ...years ago leaders had vision, now they tweet.

  2. Hello, another great museum. I like the cute little church. I had to laugh at Tom's comment about our tweeting president. Happy Sunday, enjoy your day and new week ahead.


  3. So many interesting items in this post William. That is a beautiful little church!

  4. Fascinating post and so much of interest in this Museum:)

  5. tiny churches are always so awesome .. we see them sitting off the roads we do travel sometimes ... and wonder how they got there and what they are doing? were the donated or do folks really gather there? ( ;

  6. Love the Ukrainian Catholic Church. The colors are dreamy!


  7. Well, I've never heard of a suffrage flag. You've given me some homework as I'll have to look it up. I also found out that I didn't know how to spell suffrage.

  8. @Tom: true!

    @Eileen: it is a marvelous church.

    @Marie: it certainly is.

    @Rosie: true!

    @Francisco: thank you.

    @Beth: this one still sees some use.

    @Janis: it was well worth placing here.

    @Red: it didn't surprise me that such an item existed.

  9. There is a lot of history unfolding before your eyes in this place.

  10. So much has changed and so much remains the same.

    Love the inside of that church!

  11. Thanks for the great history lesson and all the pictures! :-)

  12. Lots of interesting history to view.

  13. Superb photos and wonderful narrative William. I have enjoyed learning this part of your history today. Thank you!

  14. @Sharon: the museum does it well.

    @Sandi: it is an impressive sanctuary.

    @DJan: you're welcome.

    @Bill: there is!

    @RedPat: thanks!

    @Denise: I enjoy showing it.

  15. History has different characters and narratives but Canadian and U.S. history has some parallels.

  16. Canada does it up well ~ very impressive!

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

  17. Oh Canada! I see some familiar Alberta references in there too! Nice!

  18. Another lovely post, thanks.

    All the best Jan

  19. Really tough times. When I think of the horrors done to First Nations.

  20. I'm grateful you share so much of your wonderful country's remarkable history.

  21. @Maria: thanks!

    @Kay: there are some fascinating common ties between our countries.

    @Carol: it is quite a museum to explore.

    @Jenn: yes, there's a mix of items throughout the permanent collection from across the country.

    @Jan: you're welcome.

    @Jennifer: and we're still dealing with it.

    @Jeanie: history is something that fascinates me.

    @Klara: it most certainly is.