Every once in awhile a wonderful mystery turns up at the North Thompson Museum in Barriere. One such mystery is the donation of an old wooden camera in April of last year that provides a curious and interesting conversation piece for museum visitors.
The camera is made of wood, has a simple glass lens, and by means of a timed chemical developing formula and light negative images are transferred onto a class plate. A box of unused plates made in Ilford, London, accompanied the camera to the museum; but most importantly it also came with a number of developed plates as well. Many of the developed plates were scratched or broken, but enough remain that one can see these photographs are from a time in history when settlers were coming to our country. Are these photographs of an east coast Canadian family who moved out west to work the land? Or are these Europeans who immigrated to the Canadian prairies to become a pioneer family? Are they in the U.S. or Canada?
The developed plates show homesteads that look to be on the prairies, pictures of livestock, oxen, horses, dogs and log homes. There are also photos of large cities and houses.
A hint to establishing a timeline of these photographs is the clothing, and that they were taken in a time when no one smiled for their photograph.