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Introduction

Oil painting of two men in forest in winter, warming themselves by fire, with horse and felled trees, 1900-1942

Early winter morning in the woods, Baie St. Paul, 1900-1942
Clarence Gagnon (1881-1942)
Source

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) owns the largest collection in the world of works of art relating to Canadian history, encompassing more than 350,000 paintings, drawings, prints, posters, cartoons, medals and other visual documents. While most of the collection consists of smaller accumulations of work from a wide variety of sources, one of the most important acquisitions in the history of the Archives was made in 2002, with the purchase of the Peter Winkworth Collection of Canadiana. This acquisition is one of the largest ever made by the Government of Canada; it is certainly the largest single purchase ever undertaken on behalf of LAC.

The Archives has been acquiring art for documentary purposes since the late 19th century. These works are valuable not only as representations of places, people and things, but also as interpretations of how Canadians have seen themselves over three centuries of nation building. These pieces were acquired because they are some of the finest surviving records of the past, and because they exemplify Canadian artists' continual attempts to come to grips with the changing realities of Canadian society and with the challenging geography of this country.

You may also wish to visit the website Virtual Vault: The “Four Indian Kings”