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Description found in Archives

Robert Harris fonds [textual record, graphic material]. 


[ca. 1883-1919]

Place of creation

No place, unknown, or undetermined

5 cm of textual records.
2 prints lithograph.
4 photographs b&w albumen and silver gelatin prints.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of textual records including correspondence relating to commissioned portraits, the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, and Harris' knighthood; six letters to Mrs. Robert Harris, 1902, 1919; and correspondence and memoranda relating to the "Fathers of Confederation", and the purchase of Harris' charcoal cartoon as a replacement for the original painting destroyed in the Parliament Building fire on 1916. Of special interest are the correspondence and questionnaires concerning the physical description of 24 Fathers of Confederation portrayed in the painting by Robert Harris. Also included are copies of Harris' birth certificate and passport. Fonds also consists of artistic material including 2 prints of a portrait by Robert Harris entitled "The Fathers of Confederation" depicting a view of the Fathers of Confederation attending a conference at Quebec in October 1864, to settle the basis of a union of the British North American Provinces. Also included in fonds are four photographic prints of the Robert Harris painting entitled "Conference at Quebec in October 1864 to settle the Basis of a Union of the British North American Provinces". Two albumen prints are identified as having been taken by James Ashfield of the Royal Studio, Ottawa, 1885. They carry a typeset identification of the individuals shown in the photograph at the bottom of the photograph. The other two photographs may have been taken from the same negative, but the photographer is unidentified. One of the two is an albumen print which, on its reverse, carries a typeset list of the names of the Fathers of Confederation; this list is not, however, set in the same typeface as that found on the Ashfield prints. The other print is silver gelatin, unattributed, and unidentified.

Graphic (art)
90: Open
Graphic (photo)
90: Open
Photographs: Silver gelatin print in acc
ession 1993-363X (DAP) must be consulted under close supervision for conservation reasons.
Textual records
90: Open
90: Open
Archival reference no.
Former archival reference no.

Terms of use

Artistic material: No restrictions on use. Copyright expired. Credit: National Archives of Canada.
Photographs: No restrictions on use. Copyright expired. Credit: National Archives of Canada.

Graphic material: Refer to MINISIS for item-level descriptions. (Electronic)

Biography / Administrative history

Robert Harris was born in North Wales in 1849, and emigrated to Charlottetown with his family in 1856. While working in a surveyor's office in 1868, he was commissioned to paint the portraits of all the speakers of the Island's House of Assembly. He studied and travelled in England, France, Italy and the United States but lived most of his life in Montreal, teaching at the Art Association. He was vice-president of the Ontario Society of Artists in 1880, and a founding member and president (1893) of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. A distinguished portrait painter, he portrayed over 200 leading personalities including the group portrait of the "Fathers of Confederation" which was destroyed in the 1916 fire that burnt the Parliament buildings in Ottawa. Harris was made a Companion of the Order of Saint Michel and Saint George in 1902.

Additional information

Textual records received in 1975 and 1977 from Mary Beth Harris of Charlottetown, P.E.I.

Artistic material was received from T.P. Murphy, and from Mrs. H.E. Atwater of Ottawa, Ont.

Silver gelatin print in accession 1993-363X (DAP) was received from the Library of Parliament, Ottawa, Ont.

Arrangement note
Photographs: Silver gelatin print was originally accessioned as 1957-057 by the Picture Division, and was transferred in September 1993 to VSA, Photography. It had been assigned the number Robert Harris III-2a-(2). The photograph, originally kept by the Library of Parliament as a Copyright Act deposit copy, was assigned the number 2689 at the time of its deposit in 1885.

Original version note
The original painting, of which the photographs are a copy, was destroyed in the fire of the Houses of Parliament in 1916.

Subject heading

1. Commissioned portraits, Canadian, n.d., [1883-1919] Mrs. Robert Harris, 1902, 1919.
2. Art, Canadian, n.d., [1883-1919] Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, n.d., [1883-1919]
3. Fathers of Confederation, n.d., [1883-1919]
4. Birth certificates.
5. Passport.
6. Édifices du Parlement (Ottawa, Ont.)
7. Parliament Buildings (Ottawa, Ont.) .


Other system control no.

Related control no.

1. 1950-055 PIC
2. 1957-030 PIC
3. 1957-057 PIC
4. 1968-084 PIC