II-289652.0 | Lord Strathcona and Father Lacombe, 1909, (copied 1929)

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Lord Strathcona and Father Lacombe, 1909, (copied 1929)
Byron-May Co.
1909, 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
12 x 17 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
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Keys to History

This photograph, taken in 1909, shows two elderly men who were important to the history of the CPR and western Canada. On the left is Lord Strathcona (Donald Smith), and on the right is Father Albert Lacombe (1827-1916), the great Oblate missionary to the First Nations of the Prairies. Ordained in 1849, Father Lacombe worked in the West almost continuously for the rest of his life. When, in 1883, the CPR reached the Chief Crowfoot's reserve near Gleichen, in present-day Alberta, the Blackfoot, who did not want the railway crossing their lands, threatened to attack it. Father Lacombe's negotiations with the Blackfoot on behalf of the CPR allowed construction to continue, and earned him the gratitude of the company and the government.

  • What

    Perhaps the two veterans in this photograph, Father Lacombe, the great Canadian Oblate missionary-priest, and Lord Strathcona, are discussing those exciting days, by then a quarter of a century in the past

  • Where

    In 1883, Father Lacombe helped to solve a conflict between the CPR and the Blackfoot First Nations, who lived east of Calgary. With Chief Crowfoot he convinced the federal government to add land to the reserve to compensate for the land taken for the railway.

  • When

    The photograph was taken in 1909, when Father Lacombe was eighty-two and Lord Strathcona was eighty-nine.

  • Who

    The two men had played vital roles in settling the Canadian Prairies, one through his work with First Nations and the other through the CPR.