Canadian History on Camera: A Gorgeous Gallery of Treasures From the Past
We challenged you to capture Canadian history on camera, and you delivered! From charming covered bridges to heirloom artifacts, check out these vintage treasures from coast to coast.
Reflections on Canadian history
Sean Donnelly of Sarnia, Ontario, shared this serene shot of a covered bridge—and its mirror image reflected in the calm surface of the stream flowing below. The black-and-white treatment adds another layer of vintage appeal to this timeworn structure.
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“Fort George National Historic Site is a historic military structure at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, which was the scene of several battles during the War of 1812,” writes Vivian Wever of Grande Prairie, Alberta. “While on tour, this soldier of years past showed us how to load and shoot his firearm.”
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In the details
“I love the decorative ceiling of historic Confederation Hall in the Centre Block of Parliament Hill,” writes Ottawa’s Paula Brown, who submitted this stunning architectural shot.
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“Historic Dunvegan is a provincial historic site in Alberta located on the Peace River 26 kilometres south of Fairview,” writes Dan Wever of Grande Prairie. “In 1956, the St. Charles Mission church and rectory there were acquired as a provincial historic park, one of the first in Alberta.”
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Robb Gorr of Petawawa, Ontario, shared this sun-drenched shot of a statue erected at a local intersection. The incredibly lifelike figure—a voyageur portaging—serves as a reminder of the region’s rich history, says Robb.
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300 years of history
“Pointe-Claire Windmill is located on the West Island of Montreal,” writes Maryse Tremblay of Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec, who snapped this stunning winter scene. “The construction began in the spring of 1709 for the Society of Saint-Sulpice priests.” What’s particularly magical about this shot is the fact that—despite some broken vanes on the windmill—there’s nothing in it to suggest that it isn’t still the 18th century.
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This strip of candy-coloured historical houses in St. John’s, Newfoundland, is known as “Jellybean Row”— and rightly so! Thanks to Alan Cheng of Scarborough, Ontario, for sharing this charming shot.
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In the workshop
“Transportation—Canadian style,” writes Richard Main of Thunder Bay, Ontario. You can almost smell the fresh-hewn wood and bark in this beautifully-lit workshop.
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A pioneer of photography
Montrealer William Notman (1826–1891) was a pioneer of photography, and rose to international acclaim with his portraits of Canadian life in the Victorian age. “This is Notman’s camera circa 1900 that was on display at the Museum of History,” writes Ottawa’s Paula Brown. “As I love cameras, this was of interest to me!”
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The site of St. John’s harbour defences from the 17th century to World War Two, Signal Hill is now a National Historic Park. The talented Alan Cheng captured this stark and striking photo of Cabot Tower, perched on the hill’s highest point.
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Come into my parlour…
Formal sitting rooms at the turn of the century may not have had comfy overstuffed recliners to lounge in, but at least no one had to worry about how to arrange furniture around the big-screen TV! Thanks to Richard Main for sharing this slice of everyday Edwardian life.
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A hero for the ages
Historic plaques don’t often leave a lump in the throat, but this one—captured by Norma Keith of Baltimore, Ontario—is special: “This slate marks the spot where one man’s dream began and where a nation’s hope lives on.” You can see Terry Fox’s marker of “Mile 0” in St. John’s, Newfoundland—the point at which he dipped his shoe in the ocean to kick off his Marathon of Hope.
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A treasured antique is often so much more than an object to be admired; it can often serve as a tangible link to the past. “This beautiful teapot was made in Sheffield, England in 1860 and has been in our family for years,” writes Diane Turner of Regina.
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One of the true pleasures of any road trip along the east coast of Canada is spotting historic lighthouses that line the shore. Melanie Corbin of Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, submitted this sweet slice of Maritime history, decked out in patriotic red and white.
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Keep on truckin’
Although the Atlas Coal Mine in Drumheller, Alberta, has come and gone, the vintage trucks that hauled the coal back and forth remain. Veronica Reist of Olds, Alberta, shared this charming photo, noting that Drumheller—one of the best places to see dinosaur fossils in Canada—”is a great place to visit in the summer.”
A treasure on two wheels
For Lynn Mabley of Hinton, Alberta, this restored 1942 Norton 16H is one of the finest exhibits at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin.
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The original fire engine
Ever wonder what fire engines looked like in the days before, well… Engines? “This fire pumper at Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto dates back to 1837,” writes long-time contributor Karen Allin of Mississauga, Ontario. “It was used to fight fires in Toronto for almost four decades.”
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Exploring Heritage Park is one of Deb Sandau’s favourite things to do in Calgary. “It’s a wonderful place,” writes the resident of Red Deer, Alberta. “The train trip is a great way to relax after walking around all day.”
Relic of the fur trade
The old Hudson’s Bay Trading Post in Naughton, Ontario, inspired shutterbug Jacqueline Hodgins to take this artful shot.
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Take me back to Meeting Creek
“The old granary and train were very important in our past,” writes Joyce Stolte of Edmonton. She managed to capture both—and some charming classic cars, to boot—in this fantastic photo.
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Wealth of history
“This is Dredge #4, a National Historic Site located near Dawson City, Yukon,” writes Mike Lane of Saanichton, B.C. “A monstrous piece of mining equipment, for many years it tore up the landscape, separating gold and other valuable ores from glacial deposits of rock and sand.”
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Mill on the move
Built in 1842, Roblin’s Mill originally stood in Ontario’s Prince Edward County, but was moved to Toronto’s Black Creek Pioneer Village in the 1960s. As you can see in Heidi Sanita’s photo, the beautiful stone structure looks perfectly at home in its (relatively) new setting!
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You can’t discuss Canadian history without mentioning the role the railroad played in unifying our nation. Although the trains don’t run as regularly as they did in the past, the tracks—and the occasional trestle bridge—remain. “The old historical Bear Creek trestle bridge has been in Grande Prairie for many years,” writes photographer Dan Wever. “I went for a walk on a very cold winter day and loved all the hoar frost hanging on everything, so I decided to shoot this in glorious black and white.” Glorious, indeed! Thanks for sharing, Dan.
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These treasured heirlooms tell the beautiful story of Rosa Cross’s family history. The Tancook Island, Nova Scotia, resident’s cherished collection includes her Great Aunt Hazel’s Wedding Ring hand-stitched quilt, Grandfather Gippy’s handwoven willow baskets and Grandmother Hattie’s washboard.
If you enjoyed these history-themed photos, be sure to check out the 10 historical landmarks every Canadian needs to visit.