New exhibition takes an intimate look at daily life in Canada 150 years ago

As Canadians celebrate the country’s 150th anniversary of Confederation, a new exhibition produced by the Canadian Museum of History and Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is taking a look at daily life a century and a half ago.

 Featuring artifacts, photographs and documents from the collections of both institutions, Moments From 150 Years Ago is the inaugural exhibition in the new Treasures From Library and Archives Canada gallery at the Museum. Announced in December 2016, the gallery will showcase historically significant documents and objects from the collections of LAC, bringing them to a wide audience while engaging Canadians in an exploration of their history and heritage. 

 “We are proud to partner with Library and Archives Canada to present this exhibition, which is a fascinating slice of life at a key moment in our history,” said Mark O’Neill, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Museum of History. “Moments From 150 Years Ago is a many-sided snapshot of life in Canada in the years surrounding Confederation. It demonstrates not only how much we have changed as a country, but also the many ways in which we have remained the same.”

“We are very pleased to launch this new exhibition, which offers a glimpse of life in Canada 150 years ago and unveils the Treasures From Library and Archives Canada gallery,” said Dr. Guy Berthiaume, Librarian and Archivist of Canada. “This exhibition is the first in a series that will flow from our partnership with the prestigious Canadian Museum of History, allowing visitors to engage with the legacy of a bygone era through artifacts painstakingly preserved by both our institutions.”

The exhibition includes rare archival documents, including the Oath of Allegiance Register bearing the signatures of the prime ministers and their cabinets from 1867 to 1979 and a diary written by Annie Thompson (née Affleck), the wife of former prime minister John Thompson. Photographs, watercolours and other printed material bring people and places to life. From an image featuring a honeymooning couple at Niagara Falls, to a popular carte de visite depicting a lacrosse team from Kahnawá:ke (Kahnawake), to a photo illustrating the creation  of the 49th parallel, Moments From 150 Years Ago offers tantalizing hints of life during Canada’s early days.

 The exhibition will also complement the stories presented in the Canadian History Hall when it opens on July 1 at the Museum of History.