On May 8, 1821, George Francis Lyon of the Royal Navy sailed from England as part of an expedition in search of the Northwest Passage. In command of the HMS Hecla and in company of the HMS Fury, he entered the Arctic region through Hudson's Strait, travelling to Repulse Bay, Melville Peninsula and wintering at Frozen Strait. The next summer, after advancing to the Fury and Hecla Strait, he turned back to winter at Igloolik and returned home in the autumn of 1823. He kept a private journal of this trip that was later published in London in 1824 by John Murray, with engraved illustrations. On one occasion, he noted that one of the most extraordinary sights he had ever witnessed was a seaman and natives dancing together to the music of the ship's fiddler. The aquatint "Eskimo Children Dancing, Igloolik," 1823 (figure 2) is a delightful glimpse of Inuit children, one with his back turned to us, the middle beating a skin drum, while a smaller child to the right looks on.
In the nineteenth century, depictions of orphanages and schools documented social trends that made the care of children a more societal responsibility. Orphanages eventually sheltered more than just children without parents. As rural family-based livelihoods declined and cities expanded, families often survived by placing some of their children in orphanages temporarily or even for several years. The institutions run by charitable and religious groups became vital to the survival of urban Canadian children in the late nineteenth century. "National School, Quebec (Female Orphan Asylum)," 1839 (figure 3) is an early watercolour of this subject painted by Millicent Mary Chaplin, an artist born into the English gentry. She came to Canada with her husband Captain Thomas Chaplin of the Coldstream Guards during his posting to Quebec from 1838 to 1842. Extensive travel with her husband gave her the opportunity to sketch in different areas of eastern Canada. In addition to her output of more typical subjects such as Montmorency Falls and Niagara Falls, she captured this rare subject.