Photographs of Valcartier Camp by J.A. Millar, 1915….

23041LRIn the course of my recent research, I came across a really first-rate blog called On Active Service, devoted primarily to photographs & letters of Canadian and British soldiers of the First World War.  This chap’s Tumblr feed also covers a wider range of interesting photos and ephemera, and there are some real gems posted there.

In one of his posts, there was a link to a photo album once owned by Brigadier General W.O.H. Dodds, C.M.G., D.S.O., now housed in the Special Collections of the University of Victoria.  The photographs were all taken by J.A. Millar, a staff photographer with the Montreal Daily Star, and show various scenes of Camp Valcartier in 1915.

The collection can be viewed in its entirety here.

A handful of photographs caught my eye though, beginning on page 28 of the album.  Here they are, in sequence, with the captions.

Soldiers from western Canada.

Soldiers from western Canada.

Soldiers from western Canada as cowboys.

Soldiers from western Canada as cowboys.

Soldiers from Western Canada as cowboys, demonstrating roping, etc.

Soldiers from Western Canada as cowboys, demonstrating roping, etc.

Soldiers from Western Canada as cowboys, demonstrating roping, etc.

Soldiers from Western Canada as cowboys, demonstrating roping, etc.

Soldiers from Western Canada as cowboys.

Soldiers from Western Canada as cowboys.

Cowboy riding cattle.

Cowboy riding cattle.

Cowboy riding cattle.

Cowboy riding cattle.

In some of the shots there is a largish crowd gathered in the background.  I’m beginning to wonder if Peregrine Acland’s obvious fascination with cowboys and ranching, no doubt kindled by spending his summers with a friend working in Alberta, has a novelty about it that doesn’t translate as forcefully today as it did in the period before All Else is Folly was published in 1929.  I think there are some interesting things about the opening scene in Folly, but like most critics, I tend to view it as the weakest part of the novel.  Does the inclusion of the brawling cowboys, and then their later reappearance on the battlefield, signify something more than it has been given credit for?  I wonder.  I’ve also blown up the photos to see if I could find Acland in the crowd, but without success.

A timely question to consider, as the Calgary Stampede opens today.

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One Response to Photographs of Valcartier Camp by J.A. Millar, 1915….

  1. Jakealoo says:

    Hello,
    Thanks very much for your kind comments and the link to my blog, which incidentally I renamed to “Doing Our Bit” last October. I confess I only found this entry today despite having visited your blog on several occasions. I enjoy your posts, in particular the article on the Tennyson reference which I subsequently purchased (and with the discount you arranged too).
    Thanks again!

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