Musée du Bas-Saint-Laurent

The picturesque “natives”!

Painting of Aboriginal families in front of wigwams on a beach.

Trois Montagnais avec des wigwams, La Malbaie, painting by William Raphael, c. 1875.

© McCord Museum, M6016.

The painter William Raphael and photographer William Notman knew their clients would enjoy their illustrations of “real” Aboriginal peoples, taken in their “natural habitat.” Art collectors were not the only ones to be interested. Vacationers were also curious: When purchasing baskets, miniature canoes or moccasins on the beach, they had the opportunity to see these indigenous people up close. During this period, “real Eskimos” and “real Negros” could be seen in the Universal Expos. Today, it is hard to read vacationers’ comments about Aboriginal peoples without feeling quite uncomfortable.

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