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Fascinating objects and unheard-of stories from Canada’s francophone community.
Written by Annick Desmarais, Matthieu Drouin and Anne-Gaëlle Weber
These stone tools were used for hunting and warfare.
A deathbed memoir captured the early history of New France.
A deadly weapon recalls a merciless hunt.
This navigational instrument may have belonged to French explorer Samuel de Champlain.
This humble suitcase crossed the Atlantic Ocean seven times.
Pioneering settlers used this fine ceramic vessel for religious devotions.
A brass token served to seal alliances and to propagate the faith.
A tool of evangelization became a repository of linguistic history.
Ursuline nuns created this elaborate 17th-century brocade.
A kingly gift rang out from a North American fortress.
A jaunty head covering became the symbol of a persecuted people.
A rare ensign testifies to the French defeat on the Plains of Abraham.
A fine piece of furniture kept baby safe and warm.
A beaded collar secured the relationship between British and Wendat nations.
A family heirloom set people dancing for nearly two hundred years.
A useful belt became a symbol of French-Canadian and Métis cultural identities.
This nineteenth-century innovation made husking wheat a breeze.
Lower Canadians demanded democratic reforms from an unyielding British Crown.
A porcelain utensil symbolizes nursing sisters’ mission to care for the sick.
Infants born out of wedlock were often left to the care of nuns.
Traditional floral motifs decorate a Victorian-era keepsake.
A commercial sign advertised wool, fabric, and tailoring services.
This tricolour banner proclaims a unique French-Canadian cultural identity.
A resistance fighter’s moccasins become a symbol of reconciliation.
A handy contraption to squish fish helped feed Christian Europe.
An embroidered headpiece shows Wendat artistic ingenuity.
The shrill call of industrialization rang out across nineteenth-century Quebec.
These horse-drawn vehicles became part of Canada’s winter iconography.
An intrepid navigator asserted Canada’s Arctic sovereignty.
The first French-Canadian beer maker dubbed itself the “Brewery of the People.”
A soldier carved his memories into his First World War weapon.
Pin-up girl stemware embodied jazz-era Montreal.
A Depression-era Quebec songstress elevated spirits with her silk finery and joyful tunes.
Harry Cohen is the only known Canadian victim of the Nazi concentration camps. This prayer shawl — or tallit in Hebrew — was among his personal effects that were returned to the Cohen family after the war.
Decorations on a Second World War bomber recall Quebec’s contribution to the conflict.
New technology harnessed the airwaves and brought communities closer together.
CP trainyards were an economic engine for Montreal.
Parliamentarians partook on patriotic porcelain.
A stone relic recalls Quebec City’s once-thriving Chinatown.
An artist’s essay became a call-to-arms for social change.
Mass-produced pulp and paper fuelled the golden age of print journalism.
The Rocket wore this jersey in the 1959 Stanley Cup finals.
A young Joseph-Armand Bombardier invented this iconic winter vehicle.
A Quebec feminist icon wrote her memoirs on this machine.
The 1968 premier of Michel Tremblay’s play riled critics and enthralled audiences.
A Quebec designer created this iconic costume.
Generations of children loved this TV-star puppet.
The roots of Montreal’s Black community reach back four hundred years.
Quebec sovereignists proclaimed their beliefs with these political pins.
Ma petite valise de pensionnat bears testament to the trauma inflicted on generations of Indigenous children.
This article originally appeared in 50 Merveilles de nos musées : les plus beaux trésors de la Francophonie Canadienne. The special interest publication was part of Projet Portage, a five-year initiative to connect history lovers in French and English Canada, generously supported by the Molson Foundation.
Billy Bishop came home from the First World War and began Toronto's first civil air service.
This model was commissioned by the HBC and built by Alan Coburn of Nanaimo, British Columbia, in the 1930s.
Pemmican War trial manuscripts now available for public research.
LAC maintains an extensive collection, particularly in terms of the variety of material that has accumulated through the “total archives” approach.