vintage, nostalgia and memories


March 27, 2017

Rare Vintage Photographs of the Inuit People in Canada's Frozen North West During the Early 1900s

Geraldine Moodie was western Canada's first professional woman photographer, running successful studios in Alberta and Saskatchewan in the 1890s, where she became well known for her portrait photography. Geraldine's husband Douglas was a senior officer of the North-West Mounted Police.

When Douglas was assigned to establish a NWMP detachment in Fullerton Harbour, on the western shore of Hudson's Bay, Geraldine accompanied him and brought her photographic equipment. The two Moodies were an inspired and complementary pair; she set up a studio in the police detachment house and took intimate portraits of the local Inuit community, while he (trained in photography by his wife) documented the landscape and his work with the Mounted Police.

“Words cannot describe this wonderful coast, apparantly (apparently) devoid of everything that goes to make a land attractive, it still has a grandeur and beauty all its own,” Geraldine wrote in her diary. “The whole sea and land as far as the eye can see lends itself to inspire ghostly imaginations, nothing but snow & the sea in an unbroken expanse of ice and snow. In the sunshine it is beautiful, but at night it looks uncanny, the northern light shifting and changing all the time.”

Geraldine also wrote of improving her technique while photographing the Arctic. “There has always been such a glare of snow with nothing to relieve that it gave no definition when photographed, and made a poor negative. I tried it under every condition of light, and finally found by stopping my lens very low and taking the photo when the afternoon sun was very bright, throwing strong shadows that I succeeded in getting a fine negative.”

Inuit women and children at summer camp, Fullerton Harbour, Nunavut, August 1906. (Photo by Geraldine Moodie/The Guardian)

Inuit woman, Kootucktuck, in her beaded attigi. Fullerton Harbour, Nunavut, February 1905. (Photo by Geraldine Moodie/The Guardian)

Hudson Bay Company store covered with furs, Churchill, Manitoba, circa 1906-09. (Photo by Geraldine Moodie/The Guardian)

Inuit man, Kingnuck, of the Kinepetoo tribe, Fullerton Harbour, Nunavut, February 5, 1905. (Photo by Geraldine Moodie/The Guardian)

Inuit man, Toopealock, of the Kinepetoo, Fullerton Harbour, Nunavut, c.1904-05. (Photo by Geraldine Moodie/The Guardian)

DGS Arctic frozen in the ice, Fullerton Harbour, Nunavut, April 1905. (Photo by Geraldine Moodie/The Guardian)

Inuit woman, Mirkiook, and her child, Fullerton Harbour, Nunavut, c.1905. (Photo by Geraldine Moodie/The Guardian)

Inuit igloos, Fullerton Harbour, Nunavut, c.October 1903. (Photo by Geraldine Moodie/The Guardian)

Loading a polar bear carcass on to Neptune, Hudson Bay, Nunavut, July 20, 1904. (Photo by Geraldine Moodie/The Guardian)

Inuit woman ice fishing, Fullerton Harbour, Nunavut, 1905. (Photo by Geraldine Moodie/The Guardian)

Dominion Government steamer Arctic in front of an iceberg, at the mouth of Hudson Strait, Nunavut, c.1904. (Photo by Geraldine Moodie/The Guardian)

Inuit woman, Ooktook, with child, Fullerton Harbour, Nunavut, c.1904-05. (Photo by Geraldine Moodie/The Guardian)



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