Canadian History on Camera: A Gorgeous Gallery of Treasures From the Past

We challenged you to capture Canadian history on camera, and you delivered! From charming covered bridges to heirloom artifacts, check out these vintage treasures from coast to coast.

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historical canadian photos - covered bridge
Photo: Sean Donnelly

Reflections on Canadian history

Sean Donnelly of Sarnia, Ontario, shared this serene shot of a covered bridge—and its mirror image reflected in the calm surface of the stream flowing below. The black-and-white treatment adds another layer of vintage appeal to this timeworn structure.

Check out Canada’s prettiest covered bridges.

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historical canadian photos - War of 1812 reenactment
Photo: Vivian Wever

Ready, aim…

Fort George National Historic Site is a historic military structure at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, which was the scene of several battles during the War of 1812,” writes Vivian Wever of Grande Prairie, Alberta. “While on tour, this soldier of years past showed us how to load and shoot his firearm.”

Discover more unique things to do in Niagara Falls.

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historical canadian photos - parliament building ceiling
Photo: Paula Brown

In the details

“I love the decorative ceiling of historic Confederation Hall in the Centre Block of Parliament Hill,” writes Ottawa’s Paula Brown, who submitted this stunning architectural shot.

Find out why the devastating Parliament Building fire of 1916 remains a mystery.

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historical canadian photos - Historical Dunvegan
Photo: Dan Wever

Mission statement

Historic Dunvegan is a provincial historic site in Alberta located on the Peace River 26 kilometres south of Fairview,” writes Dan Wever of Grande Prairie. “In 1956, the St. Charles Mission church and rectory there were acquired as a provincial historic park, one of the first in Alberta.”

Discover more hidden gems across Canada.

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historical canadian photos - voyageur statue
Photo: Robb Gorr

Fantastic voyageur

Robb Gorr of Petawawa, Ontario, shared this sun-drenched shot of a statue erected at a local intersection. The incredibly lifelike figure—a voyageur portaging—serves as a reminder of the region’s rich history, says Robb.

Here are more roadside attractions worth keeping an eye out for.

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historical canadian photos - Pointe Claire windmill
Photo: Maryse Tremblay

300 years of history

Pointe-Claire Windmill is located on the West Island of Montreal,” writes Maryse Tremblay of Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec, who snapped this stunning winter scene. “The construction began in the spring of 1709 for the Society of Saint-Sulpice priests.” What’s particularly magical about this shot is the fact that—despite some broken vanes on the windmill—there’s nothing in it to suggest that it isn’t still the 18th century.

Find out the best things to do in Montreal this summer.

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historical canadian photos - Jellybean Row, St. John's, Newfoundland
Photo: Alan Cheng

Happy hues

This strip of candy-coloured historical houses in St. John’s, Newfoundland, is known as “Jellybean Row”— and rightly so! Thanks to Alan Cheng of Scarborough, Ontario, for sharing this charming shot.

Check out the most famous house in every province.

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historical canadian photos - canoes in the workshop
Photo: Richard Main

In the workshop

“Transportation—Canadian style,” writes Richard Main of Thunder Bay, Ontario. You can almost smell the fresh-hewn wood and bark in this beautifully-lit workshop.

Don’t miss this gorgeous gallery of boat photography.

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historical canadian photos - antique camera
Photo: Paula Brown

A pioneer of photography

Montrealer William Notman (1826–1891) was a pioneer of photography, and rose to international acclaim with his portraits of Canadian life in the Victorian age. “This is Notman’s camera circa 1900 that was on display at the Museum of History,” writes Ottawa’s Paula Brown. “As I love cameras, this was of interest to me!”

Seen and done everything our nation’s capital has to offer? Check out these great day trips from Ottawa.

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historical canadian photos - Signal Hill
Photo: Alan Cheng

Signal Hill

The site of St. John’s harbour defences from the 17th century to World War Two, Signal Hill is now a National Historic Park. The talented Alan Cheng captured this stark and striking photo of Cabot Tower, perched on the hill’s highest point.

Here are 10 national parks every Canadian needs to visit.

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historical canadian photos - sitting room
Photo: Richard Main

Come into my parlour…

Formal sitting rooms at the turn of the century may not have had comfy overstuffed recliners to lounge in, but at least no one had to worry about how to arrange furniture around the big-screen TV! Thanks to Richard Main for sharing this slice of everyday Edwardian life.

Check out 20 mind-blowing artifacts you’ll find in Canadian museums.

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historical canadian photos - Terry Fox
Photo: Norma Keith

A hero for the ages

Historic plaques don’t often leave a lump in the throat, but this one—captured by Norma Keith of Baltimore, Ontario—is special: “This slate marks the spot where one man’s dream began and where a nation’s hope lives on.” You can see Terry Fox’s marker of “Mile 0” in St. John’s, Newfoundland—the point at which he dipped his shoe in the ocean to kick off his Marathon of Hope.

How well do you know these famous Canadian heroes?

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historical canadian photos - vintage silver teapot
Photo: Diane Turner

Silver belle

A treasured antique is often so much more than an object to be admired; it can often serve as a tangible link to the past. “This beautiful teapot was made in Sheffield, England in 1860 and has been in our family for years,” writes Diane Turner of Regina.

Looking to build on your own collection of antiques during yard sale season? Here’s how to haggle like a pro.

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historical canadian photos - red and white lighthouse
Photo: Melanie Corbin

Canadian beacon

One of the true pleasures of any road trip along the east coast of Canada is spotting historic lighthouses that line the shore. Melanie Corbin of Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, submitted this sweet slice of Maritime history, decked out in patriotic red and white.

Here are more beautiful Canadian lighthouses worth exploring.

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historical canadian photos - old trucks
Photo: Veronica Reist

Keep on truckin’

Although the Atlas Coal Mine in Drumheller, Alberta, has come and gone, the vintage trucks that hauled the coal back and forth remain. Veronica Reist of Olds, Alberta, shared this charming photo, noting that Drumheller—one of the best places to see dinosaur fossils in Canada—”is a great place to visit in the summer.”

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historical canadian photos - motorcycle
Photo: Lynn Mabley

A treasure on two wheels

For Lynn Mabley of Hinton, Alberta, this restored 1942 Norton 16H is one of the finest exhibits at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin.

Looking for artifacts that are out of this world? Check out Canada’s quirkiest museums.

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historical canadian photos - fire pumper
Photo: Karen Allin

The original fire engine

Ever wonder what fire engines looked like in the days before, well… Engines? “This fire pumper at Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto dates back to 1837,” writes long-time contributor Karen Allin of Mississauga, Ontario. “It was used to fight fires in Toronto for almost four decades.”

Read up on the worst forest fire in Canadian history.

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historical canadian photos - Calgary Heritage Park train
Photo: Deb Sandau

All aboard!

Exploring Heritage Park is one of Deb Sandau’s favourite things to do in Calgary. “It’s a wonderful place,” writes the resident of Red Deer, Alberta. “The train trip is a great way to relax after walking around all day.”

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historical canadian photos - Hudson's Bay trading post
Photo: Jacqueline Hodgins

Relic of the fur trade

The old Hudson’s Bay Trading Post in Naughton, Ontario, inspired shutterbug Jacqueline Hodgins to take this artful shot.

Here are 10 Canadian history podcasts worth adding to your playlist.

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historical canadian photos - St. Lawrence Market Toronto
Photo: Fred Allin

Market value

Built in 1850, Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market remains a staple for downtowners in search of fresh produce, meat and baked goods. Thanks to Fred Allin of Etobicoke, Ontario, for sharing this sunny shot.

Check out 10 must-visit farmers’ markets across the country.

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historical canadian photos - Meeting Creek granary and railroad
Photo: Joyce Stolte

Take me back to Meeting Creek

“The old granary and train were very important in our past,” writes Joyce Stolte of Edmonton. She managed to capture both—and some charming classic cars, to boot—in this fantastic photo.

This beautiful gallery of old grain elevators will take you back to the Prairies.

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historical canadian photos - Dawson City historic site
Photo: Mike Lane

Wealth of history

“This is Dredge #4, a National Historic Site located near Dawson City, Yukon,” writes Mike Lane of Saanichton, B.C. “A monstrous piece of mining equipment, for many years it tore up the landscape, separating gold and other valuable ores from glacial deposits of rock and sand.”

Here are the best road trips in Canada for history buffs.

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historical canadian photos - Roblin's Mill at Black Creek Pioneer Village
Photo: Heidi Sanita

Mill on the move

Built in 1842, Roblin’s Mill originally stood in Ontario’s Prince Edward County, but was moved to Toronto’s Black Creek Pioneer Village in the 1960s. As you can see in Heidi Sanita’s photo, the beautiful stone structure looks perfectly at home in its (relatively) new setting!

Brush up on the haunting history of Balaclava, Ontario’s most famous ghost town.

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historical canadian photos - trestle bridge
Photo: Dan Wever

Making tracks

You can’t discuss Canadian history without mentioning the role the railroad played in unifying our nation. Although the trains don’t run as regularly as they did in the past, the tracks—and the occasional trestle bridge—remain. “The old historical Bear Creek trestle bridge has been in Grande Prairie for many years,” writes photographer Dan Wever. “I went for a walk on a very cold winter day and loved all the hoar frost hanging on everything, so I decided to shoot this in glorious black and white.” Glorious, indeed! Thanks for sharing, Dan.

Discover more beautiful bridges in Canada.

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historical canadian photos - treasured family heirlooms
Photo: Rosa Cross

Heritage collection

These treasured heirlooms tell the beautiful story of Rosa Cross’s family history. The Tancook Island, Nova Scotia, resident’s cherished collection includes her Great Aunt Hazel’s Wedding Ring hand-stitched quilt, Grandfather Gippy’s handwoven willow baskets and Grandmother Hattie’s washboard.

If you enjoyed these history-themed photos, be sure to check out the 10 historical landmarks every Canadian needs to visit.

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