Collection atu-3 - Robert and Shirley Hendriks collection of William Bleasdell Cameron

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Robert and Shirley Hendriks collection of William Bleasdell Cameron

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  • Source of title proper: Title taken from the donor and contents of the collection.

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ATU atu-3

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  • 1860-2006, predominant 1885--1951. (Creation)
    Creator
    Hendriks, Robert

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Physical description

258 photographs and other material.

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Archival description area

Name of creator

Biographical history

William Bleasdell (W.B.) Cameron was born in Trenton, Ontario on July 26, 1862 to John Cameron and Agnes Emma Cameron (nee Bleasdell), and had four siblings, Isabelle, Agnes, Maude, and Charles. Cameron was especially close to his maternal grandfather, Reverend Canon Bleasdell, who preached at St. George's Anglican Church in Trenton, Ontario after emigrating from England in 1848. Cameron first attended school at Crown Street Common in Trenton, Ontario, from 1869-1877 and then attended high school at Union School from 1877-1879. After graduating, he began training as a druggist in Trenton under A.W. Hawley and most likely attended the Ontario College of Pharmacy as he later qualified for an Alberta pharmaceutical license. In late 1880 or early 1881, Cameron moved out west to live in the Northwest Territories as a trader, first starting out in Winnipeg, Manitoba and then in Battleford, Saskatchewan where he became a skilled trader speaking rough Cree and Saulteaux and using trade sign language. Prior to becoming a trader under the service of the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) in Frog Lake, Alberta in 1884, Cameron experimented with a number of different jobs including brief forays into teaching, railroad construction, and working as a ranch hand. It was at Frog Lake that W.B. Cameron became known as the sole white survivor of the April 2, 1885 Frog Lake Massacre. Cameron returned to Frog Lake in 1925 for the unveiling of the Frog Lake Massacre Memorial Cairn and also during 1947 to conduct tours of the Frog Lake Massacre site. W.B. Cameron married Mary Maude Wilson Atkins on July 8, 1902, and together they had two children, Owen and Douglas. After they married, the family did not settle in one place for very long, living in various towns throughout Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia until 1926 when Mary and Cameron separated. In addition to working as a trader, Cameron wrote hundreds of stories, most of which were written only a decade after his leaving school, and had many of them published. His published literary works appeared in magazines such as The Beaver or Scarlet and Gold, and in numerous newspapers. Cameron also worked as editor of Field and Stream magazine for about two years starting in circa (ca.) 1878. In the 1920s Cameron published a novel, The War Trail of Big Bear, which told the story of his captivity at the hands of Big Bear's Renegades in the spring of 1885 after the Frog Lake Massacre. He also co-wrote a novel, When Fur Was King, with Henry John Moberly about life in north-west Canada during the last half of the nineteenth century. In the mid-1940s, Cameron revised The War Trail of Big Bear and had it republished under a new name, Blood Red the Sun, his family later attempting to have a further edition published in the 1970s. Throughout the late 1920s and 1930s, Cameron also owned several drugstores in Derwent, Lac La Biche, Heinsburg, and Athabasca, Alberta. In the 1940s he worked as a curator for the Regina RCMP museum in Manitoba. W.B. Cameron died in Meadow Lake Hospital in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, in the late winter of 1951.

Name of creator

Biographical history

Name of creator

Biographical history

William Bleasdell Cameron, 1862-1951, was born in Trenton, Glengarry County, Ontario. In 1881 he travelled to Winnipeg and then to Battleford, Saskatchewan where he worked at Macdonald's trading post. By 1885 he was working in Frog Lake with the Hudson's Bay Company and survived the Frog Lake Massacre. During the 1890s he worked for various newspapers and magazines in the United States, including Field and Stream. In 1905 he moved to Vermilion, Alberta and started the town's first newspaper, The Vermilion Signal. In 1910 he moved to Bassano and started The Bassano News. He later opened a stationery and drug business in Derwent before moving to Athabasca. He then lived in Vancouver, British Columbia for a time and finally settled in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan. For a few years in the early 1940s Cameron was curator of the RCMP Museum in Regina. He and his wife Mary Maud Wilson Atkins had two sons, Douglas and Owen Wister. For further information see Harry Prest's article "William Bleasdell Cameron" in Canadian Writers before 1890 / W.N. New, ed. -- Detroit : Gale, 1990, p. 58-62; and R. H. Macdonald's introduction to Eyewitness to History : William Bleasdell Cameron, Frontier Journalist / edited by R. H. Macdonald. -- Saskatoon : Western Producer, 1985, p. xii-xxvi; and William Bleasdell Cameron : A Life of Writing and Adventure / Robert W. Hendriks.-- Athabasca : Athabasca University Press, 2008.

Custodial history

This accession was donated by Robert and Shirley Hendriks of;Heinsburg, Alberta in 2007. They received the material as a gift from Elsie N. Cameron in 1996.

Scope and content

Collection consists of the textual records, photographs, tintypes, copied photographs, postcards and copies of illustrations and paintings of W.B. Cameron, as well as the research records accumulated by Robert Hendriks during the course of writing a biography about W.B. Cameron. The photographs depict various First Nations people, often dressed in traditional clothing with objects such as the Sioux pipe bag, as well as W.B.'s family and friends. There are also photographs of the site of the Frog Lake Massacre and the Frog Lake Massacre Memorial Cairn. The photographic postcards depict views of the various towns that W.B. Cameron resided in such as Le Pas, Manitoba and Lac La Biche and Vermilion, Alberta. Textual records consist of correspondence to and from family members and friends, manuscripts, editions of The Beaver, Scarlet and Gold and Saturday Night, newspaper clippings, a scrapbook of Cameron's early writings, paperwork relating to the publishing of Cameron's book as well as the republishing of the book in the 1940s and by his family in the 1970s, certificates, letters relating to the NWMP Memorial & Indian Museum in Battleford, Saskatchewan and to the Hudson's Bay Company. Also included is a videotape of W.B. Cameron's speech in 1950 at the Elk Point Bridge Opening.

Notes area

Physical condition

Collection also contains 61 postcards. ---39 copied photographs. ---7 photographs of illustrations and paintings. ---2 tintypes. ---1 videotape. ---0.48m of textual records

Immediate source of acquisition

Arrangement

Arrangement of the records reflects the arrangement imposed by the donor.

Language of material

  • The majority of the material is in English, some is in Cree.

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Restrictions on access

There are no restrictions on access. Subject to The Copyright Act.

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Finding aids

File list and scanned images available.

Associated materials

Other material related to William Bleasdell Cameron can be found in the William Bleasdell Cameron fonds and the Ralph and Kenneth Coppock fonds at the Glenbow Archives in Calgary, Alberta and the William Bleasdell Cameron fonds at the Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa, Ontario. Further information about materials related to Cameron is listed in William Bleasdell Cameron: A Life of Writing and Adventure by Robert Hendriks.

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General note

Information about the biographical sketch was obtained from the records and from William Bleasdell Cameron: A Life of Writing and Adventure by Robert Hendriks. The fonds level description and finding aids were created by Dayna Kwasney (summer student) in 2008.<br><br>Record No. AU003<br><br>

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