Friday, September 28, 2012

Reprint: Winnipeg Bestsellers

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From McNally Robinson Booksellers, who hosted our standing-room-only launch on Wednesday.

Thanks to John Toews, the events coordinator at McNally's, for all his help with the event!

And thanks to all of you for coming out, for standing in line to have your book signed, for helping us consume those "light refreshments."

It was such great fun!

Ariel Gordon
UMP Promotions/Editorial Assistant

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Favourite Foote Photo: Monique Woroniak

"Winnipeg is hard," is my answer when asked about this place. A difficult place to survive for some and, for most, a place that never quite delivers ease. Its endless contradictions, hits, misses and near-misses, make it a hard place to know. In the end, for many of us, it's also a place we find impossible to let go of.

Not unlike many Winnipeggers, I've lived with the photographs of Foote all my adult life and for many of my minor years too. They found their way to me through textbooks, loudly whispering reminders of my ancestors' immigration; as distractions in coat check lines on walls lining the way to gilded bathrooms at the Fort Garry Hotel; and, of course, they arrived along with any mention - anywhere - of 1919 and its strike.

But there were more, of course; even from only viewing a few sets you knew there had to be. Through the project undertaken by the publication of Imagining Winnipeg we've had our suspicions confirmed about the totality of Foote's work: that it's vast, complicated - even contradictory - and full of stories we've yet to discover. In this way, his work and our discovery of it, runs parallel to Winnipeg and what's been presented to us as the city's story.

It's a narrative we've been told/sold but that we know isn't true (couldn't possibly be true): that of linear progress from a genesis out of near nothing, to growth, boom, then stagnation and some holding of its own. A story with patches constructed and given labels like "Indians," settlers, (some) women's suffrage, Labour, Capital, a story of certain families and certain others. A story of the slow maturing of such a patchwork, each square in its place, only ever interacting at their edges.

As a city community we've let this story lay for some time, but lately it's felt like we're ready to hear more. (Indigenous peoples, for example, are moving more than ever to recover and grow their part in the narrative. ) But where to start? With their depictions of both owning and working classes, of women in many and varied roles, of leisure and work, and even of race beyond white, Foote's photographs must inevitably be one place to set out from. Taken together they fold the patchwork over on itself, and over again, reminding us of connections and interactions long ignored.

There is a photograph included in Imagining Winnipeg captioned "Memorial Boulevard looking south from Portage Avenue at night, 1927." There is no snow on the ground but it looks cold - autumn, maybe - and street car tracks, highlighted by the glowing spheres of lamp posts, intersect and then run parallel to disappear into a dark horizon. The Hudson Bay Company looms at left and pallet platforms rest empty to the right. There is no one in sight.

It's a patchwork of images folded over on itself. The Hudson Bay building calls to mind encounters of Indigenous peoples, fur traders and settlers, the streetcar tracks state progress, and the empty platform suggests a city once, but no longer, on the move. The ground looks unforgiving.

It is hard, but, like Winnipeg, beautiful in a way you can't let go.

- Monique Woroniak

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Monique Woroniak is a life-long Winnipegger and lover of its histories. A public librarian working primarily with urban Indigenous peoples, she is a past member of the Management Committee of the Dalnavert Museum. She is currently working on a collection of poetry inspired by historical Winnipeg postcards and the stories they tell.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Reprint: Point of View #2

L.B. Foote - From the Free Press Archives

Winnipeg Free Press - ON-LINE EDITION
by: Winnipeg Free Press Photo Desk

On Wednesday, September 26, the University of Manitoba Press will release Imagining Winnipeg: History through the Photographs of L.B. Foote.

Here are a selection of Foote images found in the Free Press archives.

Click here to see the WFP slideshow of Foote photographs.

Reprint: Winnipeg Free Press

A Foote in the Past

Winnipeg Free Press - ON-LINE EDITION
by: Staff Writer

Many of us have seen L.B. Foote photographs, whether or not we are aware of their provenance.

For at least 30 years, since the creation of the Foote archive at the Archives of Manitoba, these photographs have been used to tell the story of Winnipeg's past. They have illustrated everything from academic histories to posters for rock concerts.

And this familiarity is not only local - Foote's images have represented Winnipeg history to the nation and have been included in national museum exhibits both real and virtual.

Imagining Winnipeg: History through the Photographs of L.B. Foote, by Esyllt W. Jones, history professor at University of Manitoba, is published by University of Manitoba Press.

A book launch is planned for Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. at McNally Robinson at the Grant Park Shopping Centre.

There will be light refreshments, as well as a slide show of images from the book and a short talk by Jones.

The book is available for $39.95 at McNally Robinson and will be available at other major booksellers soon.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Reprint: Paperchase

From the Paperchase column in the Books section of Saturday's Winnipeg Free Press, written by Bob Armstrong:

"The University of Manitoba is unveiling a time machine this week, but that doesn't mean their physics geniuses are in line for a Nobel Prize.

This time machine is the product of the University of Manitoba Press, author Esyllt Jones and photographer L.B. Foote.

Jones' book on the photographer, whose images of early Winnipeg captured the Winnipeg General Strike, the building of the Hotel Fort Garry and the essence of an early-20th-century Canadian city, is illustrated with 150 of Foote's photographs.

In addition to publishing the book, University of Manitoba Press has also put out a call for lost Foote photos and documented the effort to rediscover this piece of our past on a blog at

The book launch, at McNally Robinson, Wednesday at 7 p.m., includes a slide presentation and lecture on Foote and his work."

Friday, September 21, 2012

Footepaths, part 1: The promiscuous dissemination of L.B. Foote

L.B. Foote was promiscuous. Book his services, pay his fee, and he would shoot your wedding, funeral, board meeting, honourary banquet or any other event. Foote’s photographs are part of the stories of countless families. People may not recognize his name but nonetheless treasure photographs that were framed by his eye and produced by his shop.

My favourite Foote photo comes with a story. Shortly after I moved to Winnipeg in the summer of 2011, Ian Park approached me and showed me a photograph that had come to him through his family’s papers. This photo is featured elsewhere on this blog, and shows the retirement party of Ian's great-grandfather.

Ian showed me the photo because he knew that I was the new professor of archival studies, just arrived from the national archives in Ottawa. Ian hoped that I would be able to advise him of where the photo might find an appropriate home.

I came up blank. Archivists are used to dealing with records by the boxful, not individual photos. As I looked at the photo, I cast about for a way for Ian to find a collection to which his photo could be added.

Ian’s request started me thinking about the nature of commercial photography and its representation in archives. After the death of L.B. Foote, the Archives of Manitoba received from his heirs the L.B. Foote fonds – fonds being the archival term for a collection of records. But what photographs would a commercial photographer have in his possession at his death? Of the thousands of photos taken by L.B. Foote many, like the photo from Ian’s family records, would have been permanently dispersed from the Foote studio.

To say that the term “fonds” means “a collection of records” obscures a key nuance. To archivists, a fonds is not simply any random collection of documents handed over to an archives. It is, rather, all of the records created or accumulated during the life of a person or organization. The Archives of Manitoba holds many Foote photos, but the existence of many, many “lost Foote photos” is evidence that it does not, in the strictest archival sense, hold the Foote fonds.

But then, no institution could. Surely it would be a sign of the failure of a commercial photographer, not to mention his irrelevance, if an archives upon his death could take possession of all the photographs he had ever taken. An admired, successful and in-demand photographer like Foote could not possibly bequeath to an archive the full count of photographs that he had taken and sold in his lifetime.

Foote's studio was like an orphanage, each photo a child who might be adopted. The photos that came to the Archives of Manitoba at the end of Foote's career were the sad ones, never adopted. The "lost" photos, like Ian's, were the lucky ones that made it out. They never were lost. They went home.

Foote’s importance as a photographer, then, is not measured by the known Foote photos. It is measured by the lost Foote photos. It is measured by all of the photos identified in this blog, and by the countless photos that remain in attics and cellars, jumbled in among family papers and business papers. It is measured by the countless more photos that have been or will be destroyed through accidents and neglect or with full deliberation. Paradoxically, it is the dispersal of the Foote fonds that makes the Foote fonds worth preserving.

- Greg Bak

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Greg Bak is assistant professor of History at University of Manitoba, teaching in the Master’s Program in Archival Studies. Previous to July, 2011 he worked as a digital archivist and manager at Library and Archives Canada. His research interests include Aboriginal archives, digital recordkeeping, digital culture and the use of digital archives as tools for social justice.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Favourite Foote Photo: Esyllt W. Jones

My favourite image in the book is a photograph I write about in the introduction.

It appears on page 32 of the book.

It is a woman in Aboriginal dress, her hair in braids, smoking a pipe.

 Many of Foote’s images are technically almost perfect. This one is partly hazy and has a ghost-like blur on one side, and a little girl in a white party dress.

The woman is a mystery to me, and I like that.

I don’t think history should be about definitive answers.

Sometimes the questions are far more interesting.

- Esyllt W. Jones

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Esyllt W. Jones is a history professor at University of Manitoba. She is the author of Imagining Winnipeg: History through the Photographs of L.B. Foote as well as the award-winning Influenza 1918: Death, Disease and Struggle in Winnipeg (UTP, 2007).

Thursday, September 13, 2012

SNEAK PEEK #11: The Books!

So when a book arrives from Friesens, the great majority of the boxes - usually 10-12 boxes - are immediately shuttled to our basement storage space.

(Don't even get me started on Friesens' SUPERdolly...)

But we always bring 2-3 boxes to the office immediately.

These are mostly destined for promotional purposes. Review copies to various media as well as academic journals and desk/exam copies to profs who might wind up using them in their classes.

But we always crack open a box and have a quick congratulatory look-see.

It's the first chance we have, as a staff, to see the culmination of all the steps in the editorial and printing process. 

We usually wind up standing in a circle in the main office, muttering about details like the spine, the back cover, how the paper looks.

The look-see for what I persist in calling 'the Foote book' took longer than usual. We had to call Esyllt W. Jones, the book's author so that she could have a look, and several other UMP authors and SJC faculty happened to drop by just after the book arrived.

In a word: fun!

Ariel Gordon
UMP Promotions/Editorial Assistant

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From top right: Managing Editor Glenn Bergen, Sales and Marketing Supervisor Cheryl Miki, author Esyllt W. Jones; author Jim Blanchard (giving me the stink eye), and the hand of former Parks Canada historian (and now SJC fellow) Robert Coutts.

Monday, September 10, 2012

SNEAK PEEK #10: At the Bindery!

photo by Michael Deal

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Winnipeg Free Press photographer Michael Deal was at Friesens again late week, this time for the WFP's Jets yearbook, also coming out this fall.

While standing in the bindery, watching the WFP book take shape, he noticed something familiar on a pallet nearby...Imagining Winnipeg.

He was kind enough to take/send this photo...

We're gearing up the for launch here at UMP, making and sending out invitations and arranging for special guests. Won't you join us?