Peter Rindisbacher: Beauty by Commission

Watercolour painting of Indian hunters on snowshoes and dogs pursuing buffalos with bows and arrows, in the early spring.

In this episode, Library and Archives Canada’s former collections manager Gilbert Gignac discusses the life of Peter Rindisbacher, an artist that immigrated to Canada from Switzerland with his family when he was just 15. Living in the Red River Colony from 1821 to 1826, he became the first artist to paint and sketch the Canadian west.

Duration: 49:38

File size: 46.2 MB Download MP3

Publish Date: June 30, 2016

  • Transcript of podcast episode 29

    Geneviève Morin: Welcome to “Discover Library and Archives Canada: Your History, Your Documentary Heritage.” I’m your host, Geneviève Morin. Join us as we showcase treasures from our vaults; guide you through our many services; and introduce you to the people who acquire, safeguard and make known Canada’s documentary heritage.

    In this episode, we discuss the life of Peter Rindisbacher, an artist that immigrated to Canada from Switzerland with his family when he was just 15. Living in the Red River Colony from 1821 to 1826, he became the first artist to paint and sketch the Canadian west.

    We sit down with Gilbert Gignac, former collections manager at Library and Archives Canada, to talk about Rindisbacher’s transition from Europe to Canada, and the impact he had on Canadian visual culture.

    While you are listening, you can consult our Flickr album to see images associated with this episode. Visit

    In 1912, Dominion Archivist Sir Arthur Doughty, purchased a book of Rindisbacher watercolours for 600 dollars. Since then, Library and Archives Canada has continued acquiring works from this extraordinary artist, and now has over 50 in its collection.

    Hi Gilbert.

    Gilbert Gignac: Hi. *laugh* Hello, how are you?

    GM: It’s wonderful to have you here today.

    GG: It’s a pleasure to be here.

    GM: Now, you’re the former Collections Manager for the Art collections at LAC. And no one knows the collection, well actually I should say, a very small handful of people know the collection as well as you do. So you’re very familiar already with Peter Rindisbacher. But now you’ve been doing more research on him. How long have you been studying is work.

    GG: Well I came to the Archives in 1974 and spent 30 years looking at the collection as part of my work. So when I came to look at the work of Peter Rindisbacher, like everyone else, we recognized immediately how beautiful the works were. How wonderful they were drawn. And in fact, Mary Allodi the doyenne of Canadian Art Historians once described him as the artist who brings to us, not only documentation, but great beauty. And to have both in the same work is quite unusual for documentary art. And Peter Rindisbacher’s work, just as I arrived at the Archives, and a whole exhibition about him and his work had taken place through the National Gallery and the Amon Carter Museum and it resulted in the exhibition and the exhibition catalogue The artist was a young man. Which is very significant because Peter Rindisbacher arrived in Canada through immigration at the age of 15.

    GM: 15. He was a teenager.

    GG: He was a teenager. Yes, very young. And he produced, over the next five years that he lived in Canada from 1821 to 1826, he produced the most remarkable works of life around him in Red River Colony. So he came from Switzerland, from the Canton of Bern, Switzerland, right in the middle of Switzerland today. And boarded some barges to go up the Rhine to the Port of Rotterdam in Holland where their ship was waiting. So they were 165 immigrants from Switzerland and Southern Germany to take the trip, and Rindisbacher and his entire family came to North America on that ship. It was called the Lord Wellington and the ship was basically hired privately by Lord Selkirk and his Estate to simply transport the immigrants. But no ship crossed the Atlantic alone, they always went in consort with the Hudson’s Bay Company ships. And, so there was a meeting, the last point of land in Britain, where the Hudson’s Bay company ships was the Orkney Islands so the ships met there on a specific date, so three or four days leeway. And then they left together on the same day under the proper conditions and they would go south of tip of Greenland and then North towards Baffin Strait and to Hudson’s Bay and to Fort York.

    GM: That’s a cold introduction to Canada coming in that way.

    GG: So you go through the Arctic Circle and through that narrow passage. And so the immigration itself was intercontinental, international and had been arranged just at the time where they were dramatic changes in Canada, in the West that affected the passage, the reception, the arrival of the immigrants.

    It was at a time where the conflict between the two fur companies, the Northwest Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company were finally resolved and they united. Which changed the way business was run in the Colony, so the way of the fur trade. So these are huge. And the immigrants were arriving just at that time so it wasn’t a time of great calm and peace but there was an upheaval.

    So it’s the time of, in Europe, they were big changes also because it was the end of the Napoleonic war. So Napoleon died the same year Rindisbacher came to Canada. So the Napoleonic era came to a conclusion in Europe. And of course, because of the Napoleonic wars the devastation throughout Europe was quite incredible. So this is the historical context, social context in which the immigration takes place.

    GM: So he crosses the Atlantic and he lands in, where does he land?

    GG: Fort York.

    GM: So, so it’s Fort York.

    GG: On Hudson’s Bay and then they get to Red River by coming down the Hayes River crossing the length of Lake Winnipeg and then south down the Red River to the junction of the Assiniboine in Red River, which today is the heart of Winnipeg.

    GM: And at this point, he’s already been, Rindisbacher’s already been creating illustrations. He’s already documenting, he’s already documented something. He’s documented the journey.

    GG: Yes.

    GM: And he’s…

    GG: He’s, well it’s what we have. We have this remarkable set of 40 watercolours that show the trip from the ship, from Holland right to Red River. So he made drawings of the whole passage. And there is a problem with this set of works. It’s that it’s never really looked at has a whole. Some people will study only the transatlantic voyage, there’s historians interested in all the data relating to the ice change in the artic that allowed for traffic, that allowed for exploration, that allowed for development, that allowed for contact with northern peoples, indigenous peoples, both Inuit and Aboriginal. The other part is much less studied until you get to Red River. And then he made drawings at Red River. And those are studied. But the set, the voyage has never been really studied per se. And in doing research in the file, we suddenly found a bill of sale for all of the watercolours. So they were purchased all together as a group for 600 dollars in 1912. And so when I went back to do research, because it’s a lot of money spent, and so there must have been documentation. So how did Doctor Doughty, the archivist, find out about the drawings? And they came from Paris, the bill of sale came from a dealer in Paris and this was unusual.

    GM: Because they made their way back to Europe somehow.

    GG: How did the works get to Paris? So that was an intriguing question. And so I went back to do research in Doctor Doughty’s papers. And I found the original letter of offer and I found the negotiations to have the book sent. That was the biggest revelation. It was a book.

    GM: Of original works.

    GG: It was an album. All the watercolours were bound in an album. It was a book. And this has been forgotten. But for the idea that it came as the format of a book that Rindisbacher created posits other questions. Why did he create the book? Who was it for? Why was it in Paris? How did it get there? And so, I began to answer some of these questions. One of the letters indicated that they couldn’t send it to Ottawa, they couldn’t send the book of these 40 watercolours of the trip to Ottawa because they needed permission from the German owner. So now we move from Paris to Germany. Now we don’t know where in Germany. We don’t know the name of the owner. We don’t know anything about the people who owned the volume. It could have been another dealer. You know, one dealer selling to another dealer.

    GM: But it’s moving us closer to the birth place of Rindisbacher.

    GG: Well, it’s getting very close to back home…

    GM: Yes.

    GG: …As they say. And so why would Rindisbacher create a book about his journey to send back home?

    GM: So there’s a possibility, was he paid for this?

    GG: Well, then you suddenly realize that when you look at other aspects of Rindisbacher’s work within the Colony. Because he immediately became known. He started his work and people knew who he was. This kid, this teenager who was extraordinarily talented and so everybody noticed. Because he was making representation of the Colony which had never been done before. And they were quite beautiful. So he became known. And we’re learning more and more and more about that aspect of his work. Who knew him? And then we suddenly realized that certain individuals had some of his work. And so when we look at the works and collections across Canada, we suddenly realized that they come from people of authority. So the former Governor Andrew Bulger had watercolours by Rindisbacher. The great watercolour in the McCord Museum of the interior of the governor’s office came from Andrew Bulger’s descendants, who still live in Montreal. The great watercolour in the Amon Carter Museum of the surrender of Fort McKay after the war of 1812, where Andrew Bulger was an officer, is a work by Rindisbacher that was owned by Andrew Bulger. And so we suddenly come to the conclusion when we look at other, like Governor Pelly who was there from 1823 to 1825 also owned works by Rindisbacher. So you see that they’re people of authority, people who have money, people who have resources. It’s not the poor people, the farmers and the, what they call, the servants of the Hudson Bay company but people who have means. So we suddenly realized that Rindisbacher is selling is work. And that he creates work only on commission. And we know the price of some of his work. And we know that people who are ordering his works know his work because they list the titles. And so all of this indicates to us that he creates his work on commission, so he is a professional artist.

    GM: So he’s not a kid who likes to doodle.

    GG: Oh no, no, no. This is a very important thing to realize, like he’s 15 years old but one painted and drew in the early XIXth century very differently than how it happens today. Today you go into an art supply store, you buy paper and pencils, you sit at the table and you draw. And why are you drawing? Who are you making this for? Are you being paid to? No, I’m just going to draw. I’m going to go out and make some sketches and it’s an entertainment. Well in the early XIXth century, in the XVIIIth century, nobody in their right mind would conceive producing works of art simply as an entertainment because drawing was much more pervasive. Everybody drew. And so to take the next step and say, well I am a professional artist, would you like me to do some work for you? And this is how much it costs. And this is how long it takes. And so when we look at the book and the album, we say well who paid for that? Who commissioned that? Why was it commissioned? Because we know the book went back to Europe.

    GM: Gilbert explains that Rindisbacher wasn’t creating an album for himself. It wasn’t snap shots of his voyage for personal reasons. It certainly wasn’t a diary. It was much more objective. How he composed, his perspective.

    GG: For examples, the first 12 watercolours are of ships at sea. But when you look at the watercolour, it’s has though he was a mile away and up. It’s almost cinematic. It’s taken from a great distance and we see the small ships in the distance going along the vast ocean with icebergs floating by. And we see how small the ship is beside that big iceberg. But there are no drawings on the ship. There are no drawings of the captain. There are no drawings of his family on the ship or what their living quarters were like, their little cramped nook. Or there are no drawings of events that took place on the ship. Like, we know that people got married. We know there were births on the ship. We know there were deaths. There were burials at sea. None of that is recorded. So, then, what this does, of course, is change our perception of him, that everything he painted is not a personal choice. It’s dictated by the patrons. And so we’re becoming more aware of who had his work, who commissioned his work to help us understand what the work means. Why does he paint what he does? What does he leave out? What isn’t there? And so we begin to see that there is a certain professional distance, if you would. There’s a certain professional mindset that separates him from the work he produces. His concern is to satisfy the needs of the patrons, the people who want the drawing.

    GM: Who would want an artist to document the voyage of these immigrants through sketches and watercolours? Gilbert tells us about two possible candidates.

    GG: The man who organized the immigrants, who did the recruitment, who collected all the money, the fees and who structured a schedule for things to happen so that they are in Rotterdam on May 20th, ready to move out. And so, that man, in his recruitment, is talking to people in Europe about settling in the middle of North America, the heart of Canada, today Winnipeg. And so, how do you explain to people, how do you answer people’s questions? The first thing is, well, where is that, right? If I’m an immigrant, I want to know where I’m going, where is that? And so, the recruiting officers would have maps and they could point to the globe. And if you had a book showing the passage, that it can be done, that it’s realistically done. This is what is involved going through the Baffin Strait in the Arctic Circle and into Hudson’s Bay on the other side of the world, this is what it looks like. Here, have a look at my book, this is the passage that you’re going to take. So it’s a bit of show and tell. They can demonstrate very clearly the various sequences. So there’s the ocean passage, then there’s the land passage.

    GM: So it’s kind of a, almost a travel brochure, but perhaps not for leisure but more for getting somewhere. It’s reassurance.

    GG: Yes. So he’s one of our candidates and he is the recruiting officer employed by the Selkirk Estate to find immigrants to populate the Colony of Red River.

    GM: Who’s the second one?

    GG: Now the second one is, the immigration is not that simple. Countries in Europe had a keen eye on who was immigrating and where they’re immigrating to. Because a lot of these immigrants end up coming back. And saying we were lied to, we were deceived. It was hard. There was no gold. Right. This wasn’t paradise. The Swiss Government suddenly intervened. And they said, we want to make sure that the passage of our citizens takes place in a correct manner. And we want to add our agent to the troop who will go on the trip and he will spend a year at the Red River Colony and then he will return the following year on the ship. And he will report to us of how things went. So this man, his name was Mr. Hauser, we know very little about him and he’s mostly ignored in history. But he’s very important and he is a strong candidate. If I’m going to report back to the Swiss Government, to the Government of the Canton of Bern, I can show them the voyage. So an image is worth a thousand words. And so this was a narration, if you would, of the trajectory. So we think it’s possible that this man commissioned the young artist to paint the images for the album. And he did return the following year and he brought it with him. So the spectrum of works, now, we understand more carefully in relationship to patronage, to the people who acquired these works. Therefore, we can begin to understand and appreciate why they were created. When we understand more clearly why they were created, how they were going to be used. We begin, then, to understand what the picture means and why the composition and the subject of the picture looks the way it does. It has a specific message. But it’s not a message we can necessarily attach to the artist himself. It’s if you would, best expressed, I think it’s a collaboration. The drawings express a relationship between what a patron wants to see and wants to show. So how he wants to use it. And the artist who can satisfy his needs and his requirements. And then, there are the viewers, the people who see the things in his day. And then, there are the viewers today, who look back, on this.

    GM: We asked Gilbert if he thought Rindisbacher was hired to document the voyage because his style of painting spoke to the Swiss people and would possibly lead to more immigrants volunteering to go.

    GG: So that’s a very good question and I think we can understand it best by looking at language. So the civilization, the culture in the community, in the colony at Red River is composed of an incredible mixture of people who speak various languages. And so there is this French, English, native language with each of their coloured dialects already present. Add to it the French, German, Italian speaking Swiss. And so of course, you immediately understand that the distinction in linguistics becomes problematic and is resolved through translation. And so, Rindisbacher’s language is not spoken, it’s visual. So when he makes a drawing, he’s speaking to us in the manner in which he was educated, in the visual culture that he was educated. So when he comes, he’s speaking, he has a specific visual vocabulary. His works have inscriptions written in German and in French, so we know that he likely spoke French and German but that he also spoke English. And one of the key things, I’ve discovered in my recent research is that Peter Rindisbacher was actually hired by Governor Bulger, at the colony, as a translator.

    GM: He was a busy kid.

    GG: He was a busy kid. He was very intelligent, very bright. And, I mean his style, it’s just his drawings at the age of 15. But he was also a linguistic translator. So, people who came were not necessarily versed in multiple languages. And so the colony had to deal with this. So this is not unique to Winnipeg, it’s something, or to the Red River Colony, it’s something that is part of Canadian history from the get go. Translation is always the measure in which life and the business of life operates in. It’s simply inevitable. So Rindisbacher comes with a visual language and it’s a Swiss visual language. And everybody looks at his drawings and asks where does his style come from, this beautiful, clear, luminous style. It’s just really quite beautiful. And so this intrigued me a great deal. And so naturally, we have one clue from oral history. There is no written record. But the family said that he had studied with an artist by the name of Jakob Samuel Weibel in Switzerland. And he spent a summer with this artist at the age of 12 and basically, they were travelling through the Alps drawing landscapes. And so you immediately want to go and find out well who is this Jakob Samuel Weibel. And early on, when the first book on Rindisbacher was published, nobody knew. But since then, the Swiss scholarship published a biography of Weibel, including a small segment of Peter Rindisbacher. And the Swiss scholars were relating Rindisbacher’s style with the style of Weibel’s work. Now, who was Jakob Samuel Weibel? Well you suddenly realized that he is a print maker. That he worked in the grand tradition of Swiss printmaking. About which very few people know very little. Swiss art history is as complicated as early Canadian art history. It’s complicated because of all the influences but also that came the French influence, the German influence, the Italian, especially the Italian influence which influenced all of Europe. But the nature of the country itself. Switzerland was a confederacy. Art developed through patronage. Which is exactly the model of Rindisbacher in Red River Colony. His art developed through patronage. People paid him to make the drawings that we have today. Patronage, in Europe, at the time, came through the court, the aristocracy and the church. They had money and hired artists. But Switzerland did not have a court, it did not have a king, it was a federation, it was democratic. The Canton’s elected, there was self-representation. Since the XVIth century, in the heart of Europe, surrounded by the king of Spain, the king of France, the kind of England, the king of Germany, the king of the tsar of Russia, the king of Poland, the king of Hungary, the king of Italy. And there was Switzerland, isolated in the middle. So the language, the visual language that Rindisbacher studies and learns is one associated to printmaking. So, he his educated by artists who are creating drawings and landscapes to be translated into prints.

    GM: Gilbert talks about some of the subjects Rindisbacher painted once he was in the Red River Colony.

    GG: So when we look at all of the Rindisbachers in Canadian collections and we bring them together, we now have a book. We have a portfolio of drawings, some of which are related to the book, which is interesting. We have other large watercolours about hunting. And of course hunting is a theme that would have been extremely common at that period. Everywhere in Europe, everybody is drawing hunting scenes because everybody hunts, its how you get food. Loblaws wasn’t around at the time, so if you wanted meat, you went out and you shot a buffalo. It was only after the Swiss arrived that they were shipping in cattle from the United States. So when we bring all of his work together, we see that there are these hunting scenes. And the hunting scenes are quite dramatic, they’re hunting buffalo on the Prairies. And the buffalo, of course, is the largest mammal in North America. It’s like our elephant. And he depicted the most wonderful hunting scenes in the winter and in the summer. And what’s interesting with these scenes, is that, of course, it takes place on the land. And so the representation of the landscape, on which these hunting scenes take place, are the first true depictions of the Canadian West. So Rindisbacher becomes the father of western landscape painting in Canada. That’s huge in the history of Canadian art. He was the first. So of course, it’s flat, it’s very flat, it’s more than very flat. It’s very difficult to explain to people who are not from the west and who have never experience the west, the idea of flatness. And I say this particularly in light of Rindisbacher because he does not come from a flat country. He comes from a mountainous country. And when he arrived in Winnipeg, it must have been a cultural shock beyond imagination. There was not even a hill. It was flat. And so the wonderful landscapes that we have for him, this flatness, he was the first to depict it. This is what it is. This is how it is. This is quite wonderful to see.

    GM: So what’s really interesting about all of this productivity for Rindisbacher is that it happened in five years or even less…

    GG: Yes.

    GM: …than five years. Because…

    GG: Well the book was made in one year.

    GM: But he stayed in the Red River until 1826, correct?

    GG: Yes.

    GM: And then there was a flood that drove out his family.

    GG: Yes. And that, it’s sort of a major incident. This flood of 1826 was the worst flood ever recorded. And when you go to Winnipeg, they have a pole in the middle of the city and saying in 1826 the water went up to here, in 1872 went up to here, in 1851 it went up to here and in 1826 it went up to here. And you can see that it was the worst and it was devastating. And the reason was that it was a bad winter and the debacle of the ice in the Red River jammed. There was a huge barrier and the pressure built and built and built and built. Now usually people in the colony are able to see it coming. And it’s rising gradually and they respond. And you begin to pick everything up off the floors sort of like Venice. You know its coming; nothing stays on the ground floor because the flood’s going to happen. And, but this, suddenly the ice that had jammed broke and the rush of water flooded the colony within hours. And it didn’t stop. It was devastating. And when you read account of it, it literally wiped everything off the face of the earth. It’s simply houses were floating by as you see in great floods today. The power of this water, it’s unimaginable. Now what they’ve done in Winnipeg is control it, right. And they have a dike around the city, a channel that the surge of water goes through, not to the centre of the city. So there’s a diversion system and it’s been built today. But then, of course, this was so devastating. And you read the correspondence and there are two eye witness accounts of the flood. And they describe it, it was something quite, quite, quite fiercely that every single Swiss colonist moved to the United States. They were not going to endure this any longer. So the Rindisbacher family was in the middle of this flood. And it’s difficult for us to assess how much of his work was lost because of the flood. So what has survived, we then begin to see was what was taken away from Red River Colony. So if there was an agent at Fort York who owned Rindisbacher watercolours, they were safe, they weren’t part of the flood. The watercolours that were brought to Europe, every single year, people were bringing back Rindisbacher and they were sold back to Canadian Institutions. The reason they could sell them back is it survived the flood because they were taken away. So you begin to see that was what was taken away. But what was it that remained that was lost?

    GM: After the Red River flood of 1826, the Rindisbacher family left for the United States. We asked Gilbert how Peter’s life changed after this move.

    GG: Once he moved to the United States, his all culture and framework changed. His patrons changed. The society in which he lived in, the structure of that society changed. It was no longer a company town, it was no longer a colony attached to a British business. It was, first of all, a context where he met other artists. So suddenly, his world became focused on the eastern seaboard of the United States and the great cities there: Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York, Washington. So these were huge populace centres and sources of great wealth with a visual culture that was quite developed. There were art galleries, art museums, art dealers, wealthy collectors, like hugely wealthy collectors. With academies of art relating to Europe where European artists were coming to America to work and young American artists were going to be educated in the academies in Europe. And so it was a completely different culture. America was a nation state. Whereas the Red River Colony was this tiny spec of individuals trying to develop an agricultural based community. So in the colony, he was a big fish in the little pond and then in the United States he became a smaller fish in the bigger pond. But what was established in the United States were publishers and print makers. You didn’t have to go back to Europe, it was on the continent. And the relationship and the connection with the eastern seaboard was very immediate because it was at the time of the Monroe Doctrine and the ambition of America of taking over the entire west. And so he is recognized immediately for his talent when he’s in the United States. And his work gets transported to Philadelphia where it’s published in small hunting sports magazines that are beginning to be published and beginning to be popular. And of course scenes of native people hunting on the Prairies are extremely popular because there’s the whole romantic notion surrounding native peoples at the time. So when he goes through the United States, it’s a different world. So that’s why the work that we’ve undertaken is restricting ourselves to what he did when he was in Canada, using the works that are in Canadian Institutions. There are important Canadian works in American collections, not a lot but some. Most of it is in Canada. And we are looking to understand not his transition from Canada to the United States, that’s a whole book onto itself. What we’re concerned with is the transition from Europe to Canada and the impact of Rindisbacher on Canadian visual culture. You have to remember that Rindisbacher died when he was 28, very young. His teacher, Jakob Samuel Weibel survived him by 20 years. So, you know, the fact that he had this very limited amount of time and did what he did under the circumstances that is quite remarkable.

    GM: We asked Gilbert how he would define Rindisbacher’s role in Canadian visual heritage.

    GG: Usually when an artist makes his mark, his style and his manner of work impacts not only the patrons that buys his work but there’s often education surrounding it. There are apprentices, there’s schooling where he begins to teach younger artists his art. And so these younger artists will then take what they learned from the master and mold and shape their own vision, their own style, their own techniques and methods for the next generation. And that generation passes that knowledge on to the next generation. With Rindisbacher, we can’t call him the founder of a school of art because he’s here for a very brief period. He is, what we would call, the precursor. He’s the first artist to come. And he demonstrated very clearly that it had the area, the geographic area that society and life, the native people, the Métis and the European colonists had a way of life that was unique. And he was able to depict it at the request of his patrons.

    There’s one drawing that appeared, that stands out exceptionally that people asked Rindisbacher to make drawings to send back to Switzerland in letters people were writing to their family back in Switzerland. And there is a wonderful book that was published by a Swiss immigrant who went to Red River and came back to Switzerland who was very disenchanted and furious, I mean he lost his fortune. His name was Mister Wyss and he was apparently a very difficult man. But he was very disappointed because it wasn’t paradise so the essential things that were promised in the contract were not fulfilled. He tried to move to the United States, that wasn’t successful so he bought his way back, fare back to Switzerland. When he got to Switzerland, he published a little pamphlet and in the pamphlet, the last page, he says: of course we came to North America to improve our lives and everyone went with great, good intentions. Although he admits in his own little book that he was reluctant at first. And he said: and we were deceived. This is his conclusion that they were deceived. That they were brought there under false pretences. And that, you know, this could be taken to court and the Selkirk Estate could be sued for false advertisement, false promotion, breach of contracts, etc. But he published his pamphlet to protest. In the last paragraph, he said there was even a gentleman, whom he doesn’t mentioned by name but we think we know who it was, who writing a letter home asked Peter Rindisbacher, a young artist living in the colony, to create a drawing of his cabin and on his land, his hundred acres of land. But he indicated the artist to add cows to the landscape. And he said I saw that drawing and I said to him: Sir, how dare you include that drawing which is not true, to send to your friends and relations in Switzerland? You’re lying. You’re sustaining the fib. And of course, it’s a question of pride. But the man really is using the example against, not so much Rindisbacher, but the man who is writing the letter who included the drawing. And he was told what to put in the drawing. So here was a wonderful example of the artist working with his patron and the objectivity the artist has. You want cows, I’ll put in cows. You want a tower, I’ll put in a tower. So the artist is capable of satisfying the needs of his patron. Now we don’t have the drawing and we don’t have the letter but what we do know is that the same time the letter was sent the colony, the administration of the colony, the governor and his committee had ordered cattle from the United States. Which take a whole season to come up. Which they were going to sell to the colonists. And so it’s Rindisbacher’s coming back to seeing the specific and doing the general at the same time.

    GM: Gilbert, thank you so, so much for joining us today and sharing this wonderful discovery or these wonderful discoveries that you’ve been making for Rindisbacher. And it’s always a really good time to talk to you.

    GG: Thank you. It was a pleasure.

    GM: To learn more about Peter Rindisbacher and Library and Archives Canada’s collection, please visit us online at

    Thank you for being with us. I’m Geneviève Morin, your host. You’re listening to “Discover Library and Archives Canada—where Canadian history, literature and culture await you”. I’d like to thank our guest today, Gilbert Gignac.

    For more information on our podcasts, or if you have questions, comments or suggestions, please visit us at


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Related links

Peter Rindisbacher: Beauty by Commission Flickr Album
Journey to Red River 1821—Peter Rindisbacher – The Discover Blog

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