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Several years ago, Gavin Murphy wrote in The Beaver about the book Portrait in Light and Shadow: The Life of Yousuf Karsh. Murphy bemoaned the volume’s emphasis on the more celebrated subjects of the famed photographer’s portraits, and he wished that it included a few examples of the less well-known individuals who posed for Karsh’s camera.

The above photo portrays one such person: my paternal grandmother, Gertrude Sophia Anderson Macnab. She would have been in her late sixties or early seventies when she rode the train from Arnprior, Ontario, to Ottawa in the 1940s to visit the Karsh studio for a portrait session that had been arranged by her children. They wanted a suitable memento of their aging mother.

Gertrude Anderson was born in 1873 in Wisbech, England, and emigrated with her family to the United States in 1879.

In the early 1900s, she moved with her husband, George Fergusson Macnab, to his hometown of Arnprior, where he took over the family insurance business. George died in 1927.

For many years before she was incapacitated by illness, Gertrude was heavily involved in church and charity affairs. She died in 1966. Like most people, she lived a life that was overshadowed by the exploits of the rich and the famous — and, like most lives, hers was marked by events and encounters that deserve to be remembered.

Submitted by Ron Macnab of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

Digging through ancestral papers, we came across this photo of working men pausing for a proud moment upon a bridge they were helping to build. The fashions and telegraph poles suggest the latter part of the nineteenth century.

My husband’s kin lived then in Ontario’s Newcastle and Bond Head areas, and the Clarke family included several generations of carpenters — so a relative may be among them.

As a Clarke descendant and twenty-first-century construction carpenter, my husband, Kelly Clark Reid, has also built regional bridges and infrastructure — so the image resonated with us. And we were intrigued by the many nearby barrels, which perhaps contained explosive material needed to blast through the rock.

Contacting local historians helped us to learn more. Beverly Jeeves of the Newcastle Village & District Historical Society explained: “The bridge is called the ‘Subway’ here in town. Its location is on Mill Street South, just south of [Highway] 401 at our exit.

“It looks very different now, as they just added a pedestrian walkway next to the opening for vehicles. The railway tracks are still used today for CN. Just to the east of the railway is ‘Hunter Creek,’ and there is a small bridge above the creek. It is obscured by the Hunter House and not easy to access.”

Sharing family history helps to expand the history of our communities. We encourage others to share their personal archival treasures with local historical groups.

Submitted by Anne Elspeth Rector, her family’s historian and the wife of Kelly Clark Reid. They reside in Belleville, Ontario.

This picture shows my grandfather, Vénérand Fortin, leading a funeral cortège at Saint-Damase-des-Aulnaies, Quebec, on a cold day in December 1939. Since my grandfather was the local blacksmith, and his shop was located next to the church, he was regularly asked to use his big black horse, named Le Coq, to pull the hearse fitted on a sleigh.

Saint-Damase is a small village about one hundred kilometres northeast of Quebec City. In those days, such villages lacked a funeral home. The deceased were prepared without being embalmed, and then the coffin was displayed in the family living room for a few days before the burial. Each parish prided itself in having a well-crafted hearse to carry the deceased to the cemetery. Families were asked to contribute a dollar or more towards its cost, which could be upwards of $300.

I believe that in this case the deceased was Adélard Pellerin — but we cannot confirm this. The photo was taken by an unknown photographer and is not precisely dated, so we can’t go into the parish records to prove it beyond any doubt.

My grandfather was a small man of five feet six inches who toiled from early morning well into the night. He had thirteen children, of whom only eight survived. Money was scarce in those days. Around 1915 he was charging thirty cents to completely shoe a horse. Even though he valued education, he had no choice but to take my father out of school at the age of thirteen to help in the blacksmith shop.

Aside from fabricating a range of objects needed by farmers, my grandfather cleared his land, worked his farm, and cut firewood. His happiest moments came in springtime when working to produce maple sugar.

He worked well into his seventies shoeing horses in lumber camps and the surrounding villages, and he also made snowshoes with animal hides.

His horse Le Coq weighed eight hundred kilograms and lived for twenty-nine years. My grandfather always said he wanted to live to be a hundred years old, and someone from above must have been listening. On October 5, 1980, at the age of one hundred years and a few months, he passed away in his home next to his blacksmith shop.

By Raymond Fortin of Embrun, Ontario. He is Vénérand Fortin’s grandson.

This article was originally published in the February-March 2016 issue of Canada's History magazine.

Trans-Canada Airlines (TCA), the forerunner of Air Canada, was created by an act of Parliament on April 10, 1937. Just five years later, my grandfather Robert (Bert) Blair joined the fledgling carrier as a cargo station attendant at Winnipeg Airport.

One of the highlights of his thirty-four-year career was to witness the arrival of the Avro Canada Jetliner when it visited Winnipeg on January 12, 1951. Grandpa Bert is the tall guy with the hat in the foreground to the right.

The Avro Jetliner first flew on August 10, 1949, becoming the first passenger jet to fly in North America and only the second in the world, just two weeks after the British de Havilland Comet. Avro had designed the Jetliner to TCA’s specifications, but the airline later decided against taking the risk of being the first North American carrier to operate jets.

Despite an imminent order from Miami-based National Airlines and strong interest from aviation magnate Howard Hughes, federal Minister of Trade and Commerce C.D. Howe ordered Avro to abandon the Jetliner and to concentrate its resources on producing the CF-100 fighter, ostensibly for the Korean War.

The Jetliner made its final flight on November 23, 1956, and was scrapped shortly thereafter in a manner that foreshadowed the fate of a more famous Avro aircraft, the Avro Arrow fighter jet.

Grandpa Bert ended his career with Air Canada as a ramp supervisor in 1976. Today, all that remains of the Jetliner is the nose, which is displayed at the Canadian Aviation Museum in Ottawa.

Submitted by Robert Blair’s grandson, Chris Blair.

This photograph was taken by Vera Briggs on July 16, 1926, at the east gate in Alberta of what is now Banff National Park. Then called Rocky Mountains Park, it had been established in 1885 and was for years accessed primarily via the Canadian Pacific Railway, which brought wealthy visitors who had come from as far away as Europe.

An avid photographer, Vera was travelling with her brother Frank on what was possibly a family day trip from their home at Turner Valley, Alberta. Vera was born in Ontario in 1898, but after her parents died she was sent to live with relatives in Alberta. Frank joined her sometime later.

As they reached the park, Vera and Frank were likely greeted by Annie Staple, from nearby Exshaw. Staple was hired in 1916 to work the park’s new east gate along the old coach road to Banff, at what is now Kananaskis on Highway 1A.

When the gate opened on July 5, 1916, the second driver to enter the park complained to the Royal North West Mounted Police that someone was extorting money from visitors. In fact, a licence fee of one dollar per week, or four dollars for a month’s entry, had been put into effect.

As automobiles became more common in the early years of the twentieth century, the park briefly allowed vehicle entry in 1904. It then permitted cars each summer beginning in 1911 and established its east gate in 1916 with Annie Staple at the helm.

Born in England, Staple had travelled to Canada in 1907 with her husband, Tom, for their honeymoon. Tom found work at Exshaw, and the couple stayed. In 1913, he joined the park’s warden service.

In 1916, a tent beside the gate served for a few months as the home for Annie, Tom, and their three children, until their house was ready. The timber gateway seen in the photo was built the next summer; the letters G and R represent George Rex, King George V.

Tom died in 1919, but Annie staffed the gate until 1930, when the park’s boundaries changed. She worked for the park service until 1948, when she was sixty-five.

On this day in 1926, Vera and Frank Briggs would have stopped with other cars to affix one of the famous buffalo licence plates that were used by the park beginning in 1925.

Submitted by Vera’s son, Arnold Walters, and his wife, Barbara, of Outlook, Saskatchewan.

Two sisters sit on a blanket at an Ontario lakeside circa 1910–15. They are accompanied by two young children on what appears to be a pleasant summer day.

The sisters’ father was a cousin of Alexander Graham Bell. However, Suzie, centre left, and Jenny, behind her, had a difficult home life. Both girls married young, and the children to the sides of the photo are Suzie’s eldest.

Suzie’s husband, Jack Mossop, ran a successful sporting goods company in Toronto, while Jenny, who left school at age fourteen to work, met and married a banker, Loman Newsom. Newsom’s employer, the Canadian Bank of Commerce, transferred him first to Melfort, Saskatchewan, and then, as bank manager, to Elgin and Miami in Manitoba.

Suzie’s hair, pulled back with long curls, is in a style popularized by Canadian-born silent film star Mary Pickford. Unlike many photos from this era, none of the subjects is looking directly at the camera — everyone seems absorbed instead by what they are doing or by something going on outside the frame of the photo.

Submitted by Daryl Moad of Winnipeg, the eldest grandchild of Jenny Newsom.

This article originally appeared in the August-September 2015 issue of Canada’s History magazine.

Family members celebrate a Depression-era double wedding in the east-Regina neighbourhood formerly called Germantown. Two sisters — Anastasia Bitz, left, and Barbara Bitz, right — were married on July 22, 1935. The photograph was taken at the family home of Anastasia’s groom, Florian Stephan, who stands at her side, at the corner of 10th Avenue and Montreal Street. The house lost its yard when 10th Avenue (now Saskatchewan Drive) was widened, and it was later demolished.

The Germantown area of Regina developed around a public market beginning in the 1890s and was populated mainly by immigrants from central and eastern Europe. The Bitz family lived nearby on Montreal Street. The brides’ father, Philip (barely visible in the group behind Anastasia), and mother, Mary (toward the right of the photo, smiling with her arm bent), had immigrated from Ukraine in 1913 and preferred moving to a city over life on a farm.

Also identified in the photo are Barbara’s groom, William Kostyk (at her side), the brides’ sister Christina (looking over the shoulders of Anastasia and Florian), and other members of the Bitz and Stephan families.

Submitted by Thomas Grant of Vancouver. He is the son of Christina and nephew of the brides.

This article originally appeared in the June-July 2015 issue of Canada’s History magazine.

Anglican Archdeacon Thomas Vincent wears clothing made for him by Cree people of the diocese of Moosonee. The photograph was likely taken during his 1886 trip to England for the Publications of his Cree translation of John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress. Despite Vincent's devotion to church principles and years of service to northern communities, his own progress within the church was repeatedly blocked by the racial views of his immediate superiors. Church leaders in England, however, saw his partly Aboriginal ancestry as a benefit, not a hindrance, to his ministry. Vincent's great-great-grandson Thomas Prewer now possesses the hood seen in the photograph.

Submitted by Kathleen M. Prewer Lyne

Giovanni-Battisto Graziadei is pictured happily playing the drums at his son’s wedding reception on June 12, 1965. J.B., as he came to be known, was the son of Italian immigrant Rocco-Antonio Graziadei, a bandleader and harpist in Ottawa during the Jazz Age of the Roaring Twenties and Great Depression. The senior Graziadei was also the father of ten children, all of whom played a musical instrument and eventually became the members of the Graziadei orchestra.

Under Rocco-Antonio, the orchestra performed at evening parties, public and private banquets, and wedding receptions, including for prominent local figures, politicians, and foreign diplomats. Every member was musically talented and was available to people interested in receiving music lessons.

During the day, Rocco-Antonio worked as a steamship agent and as a translator for the Italian Consulate to assist new arrivals. He also sold produce from his garden plot. His passing in 1935 was covered by the area’s English- and French-language newspapers.

After the death of his father, Giovanni-Battisto Graziadei continued the family legacy by comprising his own private orchestra and performing at the same kinds of evening events. J.B. was not only an accomplished percussionist; he graduated from the University of Ottawa and worked making bridges and dentures for dentists. But he lost his engineering career to the Great Depression, eventually working for the post office to support his wife and five sons.

Music was a part of J.B.’s life up to his death in 1975. Each year on December 23 he performed at a concert in the children’s wing of the Ottawa General Hospital on Bruyère Street, near his residence.

Submitted Marc Graziadei, grandson of Giovanni-Battisto Graziadei.

With the passage of the Militia Act of 1868, defence of the new Dominion of Canada was left primarily to paid militia that was recruited on a voluntary basis and organized into local units — as opposed to the universal military service of the previous militia. By 1869, there were 31,170 officers and enlisted men in this new militia out of a population of three and a half million people.

One such unit was the Argenteuil Rangers (11th Battalion of Militia Infantry) based in Argenteuil County in Quebec, just across the Ottawa River from Ontario. It had been founded in 1862 by John Abbott — who served as prime minister from 1891 to 1892 — to defend the growing province from Fenian raids and other threats. Abbott commanded the battalion until 1884.

This photograph dates from around 1886 and was taken in Montreal by A.I. Rice. It shows Abbott (in civilian dress) posing with officers of the Argenteuil Rangers. The seated officer is Colonel James Brock Cushing, who was the unit’s commander, while the two other officers are (from left to right) William Williamson and William Owens.

Like others of the time, these men were, in addition to their military service, involved in many aspects of daily life, including business, politics, and more. For example, Williamson was also a justice of the peace and ran an international lumber business in Montreal.

The photograph originally hung in Williamson’s home (now a National Historic site) by the Ottawa River, just west of the village of Pointe-Fortune, Quebec. I received it from my parents after graduating with a master’s degree in history from Concordia University.

Submitted by Bruce Redfern, the great-great-grandson of William Williamson.

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Digging through ancestral papers, we came across this photo of working men pausing for a proud moment upon a bridge they were helping to build. The fashions and telegraph poles suggest the latter part of the nineteenth century. My husband’s ...


We're not sure we'd want the fellow seated at the far left for our ob-gyn. He scowls. And he doesn't so much hold the baby as give it leave to loiter on his person. Better the chap standing directly behind him. That's intern Willia...


It was a fine day for a picnic when the Smales and Dale families met in the picturesque Qu'Apple Valley, west of Fort Qu'Appelle, circa 1905. Shown wearing her best white dress is H.G. Bartlett's mother, Dolly (Dora) Smales, born in 1893...


F.A. Clayton General Blacksmith performed an essential service in the days when horses and wagons were the common form of conveyance. Frank Albert Clayton ran his blacksmith business in Armstrong, British Columbia.The shop had several stalls in the bac...


This photograph, taken on May 23, 1907, showcases a funeral procession passing by the Dundas, Ontario, home of Dr. James Ross, Surgeon Lieutenant of the 77th Regiment and Signal Corps. Ross had died two days earlier at the age of fifty-three. Peop...


After a while, after you savour the oilcloth-covered table and the clay pipe and the nest of boots and the wooden, wired slops bucket, your eyes go to the hand on the far right. A woman's hand, perhaps? If so, why is the man peeling the potatoes?A cent...


Nothing says summer like a walk through the local neighbourhood with the aroma of freshly baked bread and other delectable confections wafting through the air. Such was the pleasure that greeted Torontonians in the early 1900s when they arrived at 1252...


Another look at A. E. Gamble — Arthur Earnest Gamble's bakery shop in the early 1900s.“Aunt Jessie,” Gamble's eldest sister, stands at the ready to serve freshly baked crusty bread, turnovers, and other sweet treats. The emporium, at ...


William James Davidson (second from the left) emigrated to Minitonas, Manitoba, from Owen Sound, Ontario, with his father, mother, and seven siblings to start a farm. In 1899, the railway was only built as far as Dauphin, Maintoba, so the family had...


Tom Kennedy was a railway man. In 1897, at the age of eighteen, he joined the Michigan Central, which operated lines in southern Ontario’s Niagara region. His first occupation was as a call boy, running to the homes of men employed on the train c...

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Album has been our magazine's most beloved department.

Hundreds of readers have sent us cherished family photos depicting ordinary and important moments in Canadian history, however, we can only print six images per year.

Now, we are bringing our archive of those photos online and will showcase them here.

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