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Geraldine Moodie

Vintage photographs have shown us early ranching scenes, cowboys cattle and horses but I wonder sometimes about the person behind the camera, with primitive equipment. Who shot these priceless images?

Geraldine Moodie was born in Toronto in 1854, and showed an artistic talent an early age. Her husband John Douglas joined the R.C.M.P. in 1885 and for the next 30 years Geraldine followed him across the country by train, wagon, boat and dogsled.

She established her first studio in Battleford in 1895 where the fist nations annual Sun Dance Celebration was the subject of her work. She was the first woman in Canada to photograph the event.

The Prime Minister,Sir Mackenzie Bowell commissioned Geraldine to photograph the sites of the Riel Rebellion. In 1896 the couple was transferred to Maple Creek where Geraldine established another studio, with a branch in Medicine Hat. During these years J.D. was exploring and mapping an overland route to the Yukon, leaving Geraldine to raise their 5 children and operate her photography business.

She was fascinated with the ranching culture she observed in the cypress hills and it became a major subject of her photographs. When her husband retired in 1917 the couple moved to Maple Creek where Geraldine continued to capture the life around them. After a time on Vancouver Island, the couple moved to Calgary in 1944. The following year Geraldine Moodie died at the home of her granddaughter, the Countess of Egmont, near Midnapore, Alberta.

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