re-creating the war that started Canada

George Dunbar’s photographic find in LIFE

Toronto. Canada was formed in 1867 in a well known conference held on spud island (PEI). The founding of the Dominion was Britain’s reaction to the US Civil War and its means to protect the British colonies in North America from the Bellicose Americans.

Those of us steeped in photographic history realize the civil war promoted the tintype and wet-plate photographer Matthew Brady’s ill-fated venture in making war prints to be sold in galleries as mementoes. The main drawback to the scheme was the glacial slow speed of cameras and wet-plate media. Brady could not take any action scenes, only dead soldiers, stiff portraits and scenery.

Brady’s efforts are now a solid basis for the civil war histories and a source for re-enactments such as this one discovered by fellow PHSC member George Dunbar on pp86-7 in the March 17, 1961 issue of LIFE magazine. The essay reminded me of a 1954 song “Old Folks” by the Sauter Finegan orchestra, which I have on LP and CD.

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