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Description found in Archives

Canadian Historical Prints Collection [graphic material]. 

Collection consists of


ca. 1550-1900

Place of creation

Various places

ca. 3,000 prints: engravings, etchings, wood engravings, litographs, offset lithographs, photogravures; various dimensions.

Scope and content

The earliest known printed depiction of a Canadian subject is Giovanni Ramusio's Hochelaga print of 1556, an imaginary depiction of Jacques Cartier's meeting with the aboriginal community of Hochelaga (now Montreal). Subsequently many prints related to Canada were published as a result of voyages of discovery as well as efforts at colonization. The Archives also began to acquire printed portraits of politicians, royalty, and colonial officials from the 16th century onwards (although portraits are not included in this collection), and to seek out and acquire prints related to events, activities, and places, most notably views of Quebec, New France, and the Canadian North. After the Seven Years' War, a huge number of printed views of Canada began to be published in Britain, and reissued in other European countries, while further exploratory voyages to the Pacific Northwest and to the Canadian Arctic generated many more printed views, although most print editions up to 1800 were limited in number due to the fragility of the media of aquatint and stipple engraving, mezzotinting, and etching. With the advent of both commercial lithography and wood engraving in the early 19th century print runs became much larger and such prints became more common. Increasing literacy, the emergence of popular illustrated journals such as the Illustrated London News, The Graphic, the Illustrated Times, Le Monde Illustré, the Canadian Illustrated News, and others also meant an increasing number of printed images became available to a wider public. By the mid-1880s, prints after photographs became an increasingly important part of the distribution of popular imagery.

Graphic (art)
90: Open
Archival reference no.

Terms of use

Copyright expired on all pre-1900 printed images.
Please credit Library and Archives Canada, R13133-x

Additional information

Custodial history
Prints acquired by the former Public Archives of Canada in the period from ca. 1888 to ca. 1970 from a variety of sources, including dealers, other vendors, private donors, other government departments, or from unknown sources, which depict events, places, activities, and other matters of significance to Canadian history and the development of Canadian society, and to a lesser extent, the development of Western and global civilization. Almost all the prints have never been accessioned, as they would have been acquired prior to 1931, after which PAC put into place a systematic accessioning system. Also included are individual prints which may have a source, but which are not linked to a current descriptive record as a single item, or a discrete item. As items are located and accessioned, they will be linked to this descriptive record.