I-49593.1 | Master Robert W. Reford, Montreal, QC, 1870

Master Robert W. Reford, Montreal, QC, 1870
William Notman (1826-1891)
1870, 19th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on paper - Albumen process
8.5 x 5.6 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  male (26812) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
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Keys to History

Canoe forms are popular. They are reproduced in a variety of materials for different uses, including glass keepsakes and small birchbark toys. This portrait of a boy brings to mind play and leisure, youth and childhood. The canoe he is holding is likely a studio prop. An earlier age is also represented. Newcomers, as voyageurs and coureurs de bois, adopted established Native transportation methods. These men pursued the fur trade, moving through forest and along stream, opening up the interior of Canada. Nostalgic Montrealers remember when warehouses overflowed with furs awaiting shipment to Europe. In the 18th century, canoes for this trade are manufactured in Trois-Rivières. Canoeing is considered a gentlemanly sport, and after 1880 canoe clubs form from Toronto to Halifax. Representations of this bygone world are brought indoors, making the domestic realm the repository of many aspects of Canadian life.

Ruth B. Phillips, Trading Identities: The Souvenir in Native North American Art from the Northeast, 1700 to 1900 (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1998), pp. 82-83.

Edwin Tappan Adney and Howard I. Chapelle, "Malecite" and "Passamaquoddy," in The Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1964), pp. 70-88.

Robert Reford shipping [on line]

  • What

    This is a portrait of a boy holding a toy canoe. He sits in an upholstered armchair.

  • Where

    The photograph was taken at William Notman's studio in Montreal.

  • When

    The picture was taken in 1870. Robert Reford, the boy's father, moved to Montreal in 1865.

  • Who

    Master Robert Wilson Reford (1867-1951) and his brother Andrew had their portraits taken at the same time. Their father was a shipper, rice miller and lumber merchant.