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Artifact Feature: Pony Premno No.6 Camera

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Artifact FeaturePony Premno No.6 Camera

Camera, 1810-1910, Wood; Skin; Metal; Glass, 104.41.0007

This small, bellows camera is a Pony Premno No.6. The Premno camera line was produced by the Rochester Optical Company. As technology changed and photography became more popular, the wants of the average consumer also changed. No longer did the heavy and cumbersome cameras of the past have a place in the everyday life of an amateur photographer. They wanted a lighter, less bulky camera that was easily transported. 
This particular camera has a 9 x 12 cm quarter plate, f/ 4.5 150 mm Planatograph lens, and a Bausch & Lomb pneumatic shutter [2]. It also has a tilting and reversing back, which allows for either portrait or landscape pictures to be taken. The ground glass screen is a ". . . sheet of glass with matted surface, placed in the plane to be occupied by the sensitized plate. When the image on screen is sharp the camera [is] correctly focused [1]." Many of these types of cam…

Dr. Edward Sylvester Morse: Marine Biologist, Collector, and Scholar

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Dr. Edward Sylvester Morse
Marine Biologist, Collector, and Scholar

Many may not know, but here at the Whyte Museum, we have a rich and diverse collection of Japanese objects and art. In January 2018, Dr. Gain Chin, an Associate Professor Emeritus at the University of Regina, provided a scholarly assessment of our Japanese collection. She was able to add depth and clarity about the cultural significance and value of our collection. How you may ask, did we acquire such objects? Come with us on a journey of the man known as Dr. Edward Sylvester Morse. 

Morse specialized in the study of malacology, which focuses on mollusca. Mollusca includes snails, slugs, clams, octopus, squid, and so on. As a marine biologist he focused heavily on this classification of invertebrates. In 1870, he published a book that reclassified braciopods as worms, rather than mollusks. In 1877, Morse went in search of coastal braciopods in Japan. This short stay turned into a three year adventure for Morse. During th…

In Castle Mountain's Shadow: The Story of Silver City

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In Castle Mountain's Shadow:The Story of Silver City


Most people admire the towering fortress along the eastern edge of the Trans-Canada Highway as they drive north towards Lake Louise. Named by Sir James Hector in 1858, Castle Mountain is a place with a tumultuous past.  

Before the railway was built through the Rocky Mountains the access to the region was either by foot or horse. In 1881, John Healy was shown a sample of copper ore collected from the base of Castle Mountain by a local Stoney Nakoda member. After having the ore tested, it was determined to contain high levels of copper and lead. In the same year, Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) surveyors were determining a route through the mountains. 

With the coming of the railway, the race was on to stake a prospect claim in the area. Healy returned to the area in 1882 to stake his claim and originally named it Copper Mine. It is uncertain how the name changed to Silver City, since no silver was ever mined there.



 Soon after, the r…

The Work of Giants: Glaciology and Glacial Retreat in the Canadian Rockies

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The Work of GiantsGlaciology and Glacial Retreat in the Canadian RockiesGuest Writer Eden Luymes, Summer Interpreter 2018 



For centuries, glaciers have been hard at work. Like giant sculptors, ancient glaciers carved out entire valleys and chiseled towering mountains. They continue to supply lakes, rivers, and even distant oceans with water. They are ever changing; always moving and flowing. The only constant for these impressive giants is change. However, that change is becoming increasingly rapid, and increasingly permanent: our glaciers are retreating. 
The first people to study glaciers in the Canadian Rockies were the Vaux family. A Quaker family from Philadelphia, they first visited these mountains in the summer of 1887, and would make many return trips to the region. Mary, George, and William Vaux, all siblings, took an interest in these glaciers when William noticed unexpected changes between his photographs of the Illecillewaet Glacier-- then simply known as the "Great Gla…

Mary's Animals: A Selection of Fauna from the Canadian Rocky Mountains

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Mary's AnimalsA Selection of Fauna from the Canadian Rocky MountainsPart II 
Mary Schäffer Warren captured more than just the landscapes and botanical specimens of the Canadian Rockies in her images. She was also able to capture the life that lived and thrived in these mountains. The sheer diversity shown by Mary's photographs and lantern slides illustrates the ecological diversity of the Rocky Mountains. 
As previously stated in Part One, Mary's Flowers: A Selection of Flora from the Canadian Rocky Mountains, her attention to the detail of colour was accomplished through the laborious job of hand-colouring each picture and slide.  
We can imagine what it was like to be in her shoes, traversing through the Rocky Mountains and stumbling across a wide range of wildlife. Born and raised as an upper-class woman in Pennsylvania, she had a lot to experience and learn.

Want to find out more about Mary Schäffer Warren? You can pick up her book A Hunter of Peace,in our shop or online h…

The Banff Paradox: Everyone's Serene Getaway from Everyone Else

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The Banff Paradox:          Everyone's Serene Getaway from Everyone ElseGuest Writer Gemma Tarling, Summer Interpreter 2018 


A mere 9,658 people call Banff home, yet the popular tourist destination receives millions of visitors every year (Enns 2018). Since 1885, when the Canadian Government established the area as the Hot Springs Reserve, the township has been orchestrated with tourism in mind. Diverse marketing campaigns draw people from all backgrounds to this idyllic destination: for skiing, hiking, pristine views of the Canadian Rockies, or maybe to stay at the monumental Fairmont Banff Springs hotel. From the start, Banff has been sustained by its visitors, but how have modern advancements in technology changed the way that those visitors come to and interact with the parks?
Reflecting on my summer here drew to my attention the juxtaposition of the history of Banff I relate on tours and the current state of the town. The Banff I explain to visitors at the Museum is a quaint p…

The Path to Plein Air Painting: A Peek at Pigments

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The Path to Plein Air Painting Part I: A Peek at Pigments
Box, 1880-1939, Metal; Wood, 104.39.1003
Pigment:A substance used for colouring or painting, especially a dry powder, which when mixed with oil, water, or another medium constitutes a paint or ink.


At the Whyte we have approximately 16,000 paintings and drawings. A large percentage of these are attributed to our founders Peter Whyte and Catharine Robb Whyte. In order to understand how it was possible for Peter and Catharine to paint we must explore the materials that allowed them to paint. Without the development of pigments, mediums, and artistic tools, artists, like Peter and Catharine would not have been able to become the artists they were. Join us as we explore the history of that development. 

The long history of pigments has been a deadly, expensive, and continuous endeavour. In the past, artists have used a variety of pigments that were sourced from animals, insects, plants, minerals, and soil. With the continuous developmen…