Wednesday, January 22, 2020


Here we have a look up at the ceiling in St. Onuphrius Church, in the Museum of History.

A video display features recollections from parish members, mixed with footage of the church still in use today inside the Museum. And have a look at this museum blog post from 2017 about the process of taking care of the church during the work that was done to revamp the permanent galleries.

Stepping out of the church, the visitor can walk around its perimeter. The walls around it have artifacts about life in the west. This coat belonged to a Ukrainian immigrant, Mrs. M. Senko, who lived in Alberta; it dates to the late 19th century. Tools like a plow and a sickle are included in this display case.

For many Canadian students of the period these would have been familiar sights: the desk, the lunch box, the satchel. In rural environments, schools would have been of the one room variety, with multiple grade levels all together.

A look through a back door in the church gives a view of the sacristy.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020


A reminder to members of City Daily Photo: the theme for February 1st is Streetscape.

From here, the Museum of History's narrative starts to examine the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. The country was taking on more of a multi-ethnic character during this time, with new immigrants making new lives, especially so in the west.

The centrepiece in this area is a treasure of the Museum. St. Onuphrius Church is a Ukrainian Catholic Church that stood for years in Alberta. It was given to the Museum in 1996, and remains consecrated, still used on occasion for religious services.

Monday, January 20, 2020


The work of Baldwin and LaFontaine towards responsible government would do much to set the stage for the Canadian colonies to move towards Confederation. 

Another influence leading towards Confederation would come from south of the border. Legislators in Canada watched the conflagration of the Civil War with alarm, and realized their best alternative was to stand together or risk annexation. In the aftermath of that war, raids by Irish-American veterans, the so called Fenian Raids, only solidified the need to work together.

This is the musket of a Fenian Raider, taken by a Canadian militia officer at the Battle of Ridgeway near Niagara in 1866. The uniform is a Union uniform of the 1860s, typical, as most of the Fenians had served in the Union Army during the Civil War. The Fenian movement sought to use Canada as ransom to force the British to remove their presence from all of Ireland. The raids failed, but strengthened the resolve of Canadian politicians, regardless of political differences, to work for a common cause.

Three portraits of some of the Fathers of Confederation are here: John A. Macdonald, George Brown, and George-Etienne Cartier. These three men would be among the leading voices for Confederation; Macdonald would be the first prime minister of the country.

A group portrait of the Fathers of Confederation was taken during the Charlottetown Conference in 1864.

The most eloquent of the Fathers of Confederation was one of its more unusual stories. Thomas D'Arcy McGee had been a radical in his native Ireland. He ended up in Canada as a journalist and lawyer before moving into politics, changing his world view to appreciate the value of a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. A friend of Macdonald and a gifted writer and speaker, McGee was one of the strongest voices for union.

This is a portrait of McGee, painted by Frederic Marlett Bell-Smith in 1868.

McGee's shift in allegiances earned him enemies in the Fenian movement, and he was assassinated while coming home from a session of Parliament, shot at the entrance to his boarding house in Ottawa. His funeral in Montreal brought out the masses.

Shifting back to the First Nations again. It was long a habit of the Blackfoot peoples of the great plains to do what is called a winter count. This was done on an elk skin or a bison skin (in this case the first) each year, recording the most memorable event of the preceding year by a member of the tribe. This one is from the 19th century, featuring images spiraling out from the centre.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

A Path Forward

The second of the three galleries inside Canada Hall concerns itself with the period following the end of the French and Indian War, up to 1914. This particular area deals with everyday life, and so we see tools, furnishings, and other items.

The First Nations experience remains tightly woven into the museum's narrative, and so artifacts are found here throughout. This is an Anishinaabe bag from the mid-19th century depicting a water serpent called Mishibizhiw.

Carrying on, we find items like a sleigh and a bank crest for the Molsons Bank, which operated out of Montreal.

Different sports: cricket, lacrosse, and curling, all represented here by pieces of equipment. Lacrosse is something that comes from the First Nations, having had been played from time immemorial by tribes of the eastern woodlands and some areas of the great plains.

This coat of arms once hung in the Vieux Palais de Justice in Montreal. It dates to the mid-19th century.

Unrest in the Canadian colonies had led to rebellions in the 1830s. Ultimately out of that would come a movement towards responsible government. Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine were moderate reformers and partners as premiers, smoothing the way for what would become Canadian Confederation.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

The Old Rivalry

England and France had already been rivals in Europe for hundreds of years. What would become known as the French and Indian War in North America would rise up as the two powers jockeyed for influence in the continent. It would be known as the Seven Years War elsewhere.

Part of that rose up in the Maritimes, where French settlers called the Acadians were in the way of British plans. It would lead to an expulsion of Acadians, and eventually give way to open war.

This painting, from 1751, is titled Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia.  It is from the circle of Samuel Scott.

Halifax, founded in 1749, would bring in settlers from New England, as well as Britain itself. 

Here we have the cloak of James Wolfe, a British general who fought in the French and Indian War. His moment of triumph- victory in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham at Quebec City in 1759- was to be his last, as he was mortally wounded.

This portrait of Wolfe was done years after the battle, in 1766, by J.C.S. Schaak.

A portrait of his French counterpart at the Plains of Abraham is at the other end of the display case.  Louis-Joseph de Montcalm was the commanding French general at the battle, and like Wolfe was mortally wounded during the fight. France would cede nearly all of its possessions in the New World in the Treaty of Paris that ended the war. The artist is unknown.

These two paintings are by the same artist, Dominic Serres. The top is A View Of The Treasury and Jesuits College, Quebec City. The bottom painting is A View Of The Church Of Notre-Dame-de-la-Victoire, Quebec City. Both paintings date to 1760.

A few years after the French and Indian War, the American Revolution would have its influence on Canada, with Loyalists coming north and settling into new lives in Canada. Immigrants from Europe would come too.

This trunk belonged to Thomas Elliott, an Irish immigrant who settled in Canada in 1846, becoming a farmer near Stratford in Ontario.