This week I continued to push forward with both my research and my exhibit creation. The latter was a bit frustrating but for the former, I was able to obtain a copy of the book of Fred Landon writings. As I mentioned last week, Fred Landon is considered to be a pioneer in the study of Black History in Canada. He had a wide-ranging career as a journalist, librarian and archivist, but it may have been his early work as a sailor on the Great Lakes lake ships that gave him an interest in working class people, and the Black community. He obtained a Master’s degree in history at the age of thirty-nine, and was president or chairman of several local, provincial and national historical societies through his life. He became the first vice-President of the University of Western Ontario in 1946, at age sixty-six, and a year later the first Dean of Graduate Studies. Upon retirement he was given honorary doctorates of letters from Western, and of laws, from McMaster University. Through the book of his writings, entitled Ontario’s African-Canadian Heritage: Collected Writings by Fred Landon, 1918-1967, I hope to get a better understanding of the evolution of Black history in Canada through the early and middle part of the twentieth century.
I also made progress, as planned, on my exhibit. I found a very interesting photograph of the first volunteer military corps in British Columbia, called the Victoria Pioneer Rifle Corps. Interestingly, this first corps, which existed from 1861-1865, was made up of Black volunteers. It was commonly known as the African Rifles. Being in the public domain, I was able to go ahead and post it to my exhibit. However, it took quite awhile, numerous tries and several emails to the Omeka help desk, before I realized that I needed a document viewing plug-in module to enable the picture to show up in the exhibition space. I also added some background text and filled in some of the background data, but the picture still doesn’t appear on the main page. It seems to me that it should be the first thing you see. As it is now you must click on the ‘more’ button and then scroll all the way to the bottom to see the picture.
So that will be a job for this week. I will figure out how to make my picture appear on the main page. I will also start to review the Fred Landon book. From my early reading of this book, it seems that there was another historian working closely with Landon on the same subject of Ontario Black history: namely, Justice William Renwick Riddell. I will spend some time this week looking for good source material by him. This Justice Riddell ‘find’ is noteworthy for two reasons: 1) there are not very many historians of Black history during this middle period, and 2) the Canadian legal perspective concerning Black Canadians was supportive of Blacks in the mid-nineteenth century and led to some precedent-setting court cases. I will be interested to see if the Canadian courts continued to be supportive of the Black community on into the twentieth century.