MP-0000.2016.2 | Aboriginal person on horse, child in travois, at Calgary Station, AB, 1892

Aboriginal person on horse, child in travois, at Calgary Station, AB, 1892
Canadian Pacific Railway
1892, 19th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on card - Gelatin silver process
18 x 24 cm
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Ethnology (606) , Native people (373) , Photograph (77678)
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Keys to History

Since the caption indicates that this picture was taken by or for the Canadian Pacific Railway, it is likely a posed photograph, designed to illustrate the old and new ways of travel in western Canada. In the foreground is a First Nations woman (?) on horseback, with a child behind her on a travois. Another person, and since this is Calgary, they are probably Blackfoot or Sarcee, stands to the left. Behind them is the Calgary Railway station. It is not very impressive and was soon to be replaced with a grander one, but the point is what it represents: the power of European technology, which can whisk people across the prairies at far greater speeds than could the old indigenous methods. The picture is thus a metaphor for the way in which First Nations culture was viewed during this period.

  • What

    This is a picture of a First Nations family using a horse and travois.

  • Where

    The family is posed in front of the Canadian Pacific Railway station at Calgary, Alberta.

  • When

    The photograph was made in 1892, seven years after the railway began to carry passengers to the new town.

  • Who

    The subjects are unidentified, but are probably members of the Blackfoot First Nation.