In Search of Geraldine Moodie


182 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Bibliography
ISBN 0-88977-110-3
DDC 779'.9971202'092





Reviewed by R. Douglas Francis

R. Douglas Francis is a professor of history at the University of
Calgary and the co-author of Destinies: Canadian History Since


This superb book chronicles the life of Geraldine Moodie (1854–1945),
granddaughter of Susanna Moodie and grandniece of Catharine Parr Traill.

An outstanding photographer, Moodie was a remarkably gifted woman in
her own right. She traveled extensively as the wife of John Douglas
Moodie, a distant cousin who attempted farming before becoming a North
West Mounted Police officer, a position that took the Moodies on a
32-year adventure that included time spent at almost every major North
West Mounted Police post in Western Canada, as well as journeys into the
Hudson Bay district of the eastern Arctic and the Yukon Territory.

Highlights of the book include the excellent reproductions of many of
Moodie’s early watercolor sketches of the wildflowers of Manitoba
(these sketches were exhibited along with her mother’s work at the
1886 Colonial and Indian Exhibition in London, England) and her
magnificent photographs. Those of Western Canada document the waning of
Native culture and the passing of the open-range ranching frontier,
while those of the eastern Arctic and the Yukon chronicle the years of
transition from Native autonomy to the arrival of white settlers at the
turn of the century. Social and cultural historians of the Canadian West
and North will find these photographs invaluable.

Moodie achieved many “firsts.” As the author notes: “[A]s a woman
photographer, she was virtually alone in her profession in a
male-dominated society on the Canadian frontier during the late
Victorian period”; she was “the first woman photographer to operate
a studio on the Canadian prairies”; and she was “undoubtedly the
first woman to photograph the Inuit in a professional manner.”

This well-researched and very readable book refutes the popular notion
that Victorian women in Canada lived sedentary and unfulfilled lives in
the shadows of their husbands.


White, Donny., “In Search of Geraldine Moodie,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 20, 2024,