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This photograph was taken in 1936 at Camp 14, a portable sawmill operating on the east side of the Kootenay River, more than twenty kilometres from Canal Flats, British Columbia. The camp was operated by the Canadian Pacific Railway, and the workers were cutting railway ties from larch logs.

The mills operated in all seasons and were well-suited to British Columbia’s dry interior forests. The CPR had extensive tie reserves in the Kootenay River Valley, and the portable mill was moved around the cut block as needed.

In the middle of the photo is Gordon Kennedy, holding a dog named Pug. On the right is Jim Robinson, who was born in Lethbridge in May 1905, just a few months before Alberta became a province. Robinson had a long career in the British Columbia Forest Service, ending as a scaling inspector in the Kamloops Forest District.

As can be seen in the photo, hard hats were not required in 1936! Frozen logs were among the hazards for workers, and Robinson had his front teeth knocked out shortly after this photo was taken.

Submitted by George Robinson of Castlegar, British Columbia, son of Jim Robinson.

This photo reveals none of the trauma or turmoil that Sabrina Brik and her daughter, Miriam, have already experienced as they await an uncertain future in a Jewish refugee camp in Kishiniv, Romania. It is 1920, and their flight from Ukraine has been accomplished via horse-drawn cart and river ferry. Miriam’s head has been shaved to prevent lice or to stop infection.

Sabrina, fair and blue-eyed, was allowed to sit beside the cart driver, but five-year-old Miriam, dark-haired and dusky, was hidden under a tarpaulin. It was their second attempt to escape revolution-torn Russia; on their first they had been caught and put in jail. Sabrina’s husband, Joseph, had been killed as a conscript in the Russian Army in 1916.

For the next three years, Sabrina, known as Shifra, eked out a hand-to-mouth existence in Romania. Their fortunes turned when the Jewish Immigration Society arranged an exit permit allowing them to leave for Canada. The S.S. Madonna docked in Halifax on May 29, 1924.

Sabrina found work in a Toronto hat factory, went to night school to learn English, and saved enough to bring her mother to Canada. In 1938 she married Hershel Wasser, an accountant who later owned a women’s wear store. Miriam became known as Mucie and, because she had a late start in school, attended classes with younger children. She learned Yiddish at the Hebrew Free School, where she met her future husband, Kip Kaplansky. After their marriage in 1934, they went to Palestine, where they spent three years at a kibbutz. Their first home was in an abandoned chicken coop.

Mucie and Kip returned to Canada in time to escape the outbreak of the Second World War. Their daughter Noga was born in Palestine, and twin boys Ron and Joel were born in Toronto in 1939 — the year Canada turned back the Jewish refugee ship M.S. St. Louis, consigning its occupants to their fates in Nazi death camps. Kip became owner of a bakery, and Mucie worked as a school secretary. Shifra died in 1982, Mucie in 2010. She left ten grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Submitted by Ron Kaplansky of Toronto, son of Miriam, later Mucie (Brik) Kaplansky.

During 1957 and 1958, my father, Bill Leenhouts, worked for a Texas company that specialized in building river crossings for the TransCanada natural gas pipeline. At that time it was the longest in the world.

In 1957, he worked on the Île aux Tourtes crossing to the Île de Montréal under the Ottawa River. It involved long days, seven days a week, but the pay was good, and it was close to our home on Île Perrot, Quebec.

Crossing a river required special preparations of the pipe, including covering it with tar and then wrapping it with brown paper. A cone was placed in the end of the pipe, which was then pushed into the riverbed to reach the other side.

In 1958, my dad was one of the few Canadians employed on the Missinaibi River crossing at Mattice in northern Ontario, primarily to clear brush in the wilderness. Most of the workers were Texans, such as the welder’s assistant and bulldozer driver in this photo taken by my father. He worked with the two men, but their names are not known.

It was quite an adventure for my father — living out of the back of an International pickup in a homemade portable shack. My mother, two brothers, and I joined my father by train and spent an interesting summer getting to know the predominantly French people and significant Aboriginal population of the town.

Submitted be Chris Leenhouts of Quebec City

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.

The attached photo of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, was taken in 1955 and portrays both family and historical connections between Canada and Scotland. The lady on the extreme left of the picture is Jeannie Presly, my late mother-in-law. The girl in front of her is her daughter Kathleen, now my wife of forty years.

The photo was taken on the grounds of the Haddo Estate, near the Scottish city of Aberdeen. The man in the kilt is a grandson of the earl of Aberdeen, who was the Governor General of Canada from 1893 to 1898. Kathleen (Kay) was born in 1945 at her parent’s home on the Mains of Aquhorthies, a prominent farm on the Haddo Estate where the laird resided and which is still owned by a member of the Presly family.

The Preslys were founding members and performers of Lady Aberdeen’s choral group, which continued for several generations. The group produced musicals and choral works under her direction, including some written by such notable composers as Gilbert & Sullivan and Mozart. She occasionally invited dignitaries from London to serve as guest conductors, including Benjamin Britten and Vaughan Williams.

The result was to bring culture to the small village of Tarves and its environs, some twenty kilometres from Aberdeen.

Submitted by Robert S. Wright of Fenelon Falls, 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.

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It was all hands on deck when it came to haying time. "Everyone, including all the children, did their bit at every stage of farm life," says Catherine Pickard, and harvesting hay for winter-feed was an important activity. Pickard grew u...


By the early twentieth century, the railway had united much of the Canadian countryside. However, Mother Nature does not always co-operate in the effort to brings goods and people together. "More snow than rye at Viscount, Saskatchewan,"...


Lillian Gardiner (nee Porteous) was born in Needles, British Columbia, on Christmas Day in 1917. She was one of six children who lived in a single-room log cabin for many years. Most of Lillian's education was of a practical nature. Chopping w...


The girls-from left to right, Audrey Rutledge, Lena Pratt, Mureil Pratt, Barbara Rutledge and Beth Rutledge-are almost as bare as you dare — at least by 1922 standards, and perhaps even by the standards of Cranbrook, BC (not known to be a fash...


The men in this 1922 photograph are fishing off the dock at a spot at Latchford, Ontario, where the Montreal River widens to form Bay lake. The three men are enjoying rare moments of relaxation away from their busy jobs. Thomas W. Carlyle, left, w...


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 durin...


Well, it's springtime in 1923 in the Red River Valley, and the Red—which will flood its banks several times in the twentieth century to great spectacle—is swollen with meltwater and rain. Cattle dealer James Braden's yard, which is near the...


Scottish immigrants brought the game of curling to Canada. It has been suggested that the first matches were played during the Seven Years War of 1756 to 1763, when Scottish troops melted down cannonballs to fashion iron curling rocks. In 1807, twen...


Reverend James McNeill moved his wife and family to Clairmont, Alberta, in 1930. The Depression brought drought and hard times. Many people left their homesteads on the Prairies to come to the Peace Country just north of Grand Prairie in search of...


In this photo taken in 1937 or 1938 at Lake of the Woods in northwestern Ontario, Olaf Johnson sits on a beached houseboat with his children, Adeline and John. Johnson was a commercial fisherman by trade, but he supplemented his income by contractin...

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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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