This Wild Spirit: Women in the Rocky Mountains of Canada
Article by Tom Spiller, IACC Member
On March 9, 2017, our guest speaker was Dr. Colleen Skidmore, Professor in the Department of History and Classics, Faculty of Arts, University of Alberta. She relayed to us how her experience researching archives about women in history demonstrates the timeless value of photographs. Dr. Skidmore’s presentation used examples from her books to show us how we can learn about societies and cultures from photographs.
Early women explorers in the Canadian Rockies produced photos and drawings for some of the most respected photographic and geographic societies in the world. Dr. Skidmore showed us how hand tinted glass lantern slides were used to capture their experiences and bring meaning to times and places. Her studies focused on Mary Schaffer, Mary M. Vaux, and Molly Adams in the late 1800's and early 1900’s. Tremendous botanical knowledge and interactions with Aboriginal peoples were documented forever through their works. A very classic example is a photograph of “The Beaver Family” by Mary Schaffer in 1906. The first photos of Maligne Lake also come from Mary Schaffer’s explorations in 1908. A later example of women in the Rockies included Georgia Engelhard, and her amazing climbing accomplishments. The photograph of Mount Assiniboine in 1931 conveys size, wilderness and the presence of Indigenous people.
Dr. Skidmore’s technical knowledge in selecting well-composed photos in her books and exhibits stems from extensive archival research. Thanks to Catharine Whyte, there is now the Whyte Museum in Banff, where many of these archives reside. A special exhibit featuring This Wild Spirit: Women in the Rocky Mountains of Canada will be presented from June to October this year.
Now we know where the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” comes from.
Please note: Whyte Museum's Archives & Library collection include several works by Mary M. Vaux and Mary Schaffer.
© 2018 COPYRIGHT. IMAGES ALBERTA CAMERA CLUB. EDMONTON, ALBERTA, CANADA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
This website and its content are protected by Canadian copyright law. Except as otherwise provided for under Canadian copyright law, this website and its content may not be copied, published, distributed, downloaded or otherwise stored in a retrieval system, transmitted or converted, in any form or by any means, electronic or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.
External Link and Third Party Disclaimer: Images Alberta Camera Club (IACC) is not responsible for, and expressly disclaims all liability for, damages of any kind arising out of use, reference to, or reliance on any information contained within the website. While the information on the website is periodically updated, no guarantee is given that the information provided is correct, complete and up-to-date. Although IACC may include links providing direct access to other Internet resources, including websites, IACC is not responsible for the accuracy or content of information contained in these sites. Links from IACC to third-party sites do not constitute an endorsement by IACC of the parties or their products and services. The appearance on the website of advertisements and product or service information does not constitute an endorsement by IACC, and IACC has not investigated the claims made by any advertiser. Product information is based solely on material received from suppliers. Views expressed by other websites are not necessarily those of the IACC. Please report any external links that do not work to the webmaster.
Updated June 29, 2018