Romancing the Canoe

June 17, 2017 - September 10, 2017

Organized by Glenbow
Curated by Roger Boulet

Janice Tanton, Undercurrents, 2014, Courtesy of the Artist

In terms of historical and symbolic significance, the canoe could be said to represent the complexities of the Canadian experience. Its versatility propelled the expansion of the nation’s first economy, the fur trade, but in doing so hastened the colonization of the First Nations who had introduced the vessel to the settlers. In contemporary times, canoes have been reclaimed by First Nations communities in efforts towards cultural revival, and Canadians of all backgrounds now associate canoes with leisure time and contemplation, as well as sport and outdoor adventure.

All these themes inform Romancing the Canoe. Drawing from Glenbow’s own collection, private lenders, the National Archives and other institutions, the exhibition explores how this elegant craft has been celebrated in Canadian art from the early 19th century to the 21st. Works range from early drawings of Europeans’ first encounters with the canoe, to the epic historical paintings of Francis Anne Hopkins, to surreal meditations on our national identity by contemporary artists such as Janice Tanton.

Frances Anne Hopkins, Canoe Party Around a Campfire, 1870, Collection of Library and Archives Canada
Frances Anne Hopkins, Groupe de voyageurs autour d'un feu de camp, vers 1870, Collection de Bibliothèque et Archives Canada
Belmore Browne, The Silent Fjord (detail), 1936, Collection of Glenbow
Frederick N. Wilson, Coyote Went Up the River (detail), n.d., Collection of Glenbow


View our Upcoming Exhibitions and please visit us to explore our Permanent Exhibitions available all year 'round.

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