Hidden Gems from the NGC Library and Archives Collection


Unknown photographer, Emily Carr, 1898, photograph. National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives, purchased 2008

Shortly after this photograph was taken, Emily Carr (1871–1945) travelled to Ucluelet on the west coast of Vancouver Island, where she first had an opportunity to live among the First Peoples and within the landscape that would inspire her. That inspiration led Carr to document vanishing ways of life among the First Nations of the West Coast through her painting of their villages, buildings, and totem poles. Later in life — after she had been encouraged by the inclusion of her work in an exhibition of Canadian West Coast art at the National Gallery of Canada in 1927, and receiving the support of Lawren Harris and Eric Brown, Director of the Gallery — Carr returned to her art and to Nature as her subject, and produced the paintings of forests, trees, and skies for which she is best known. The tearing in the photograph betrays traces of one of Emily’s much-loved pets — her Javanese monkey, Woo — as revealed in Emily’s inscription to her friend Carol Pearson: “Excuse monkey Woo’s chewing!”

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