Collections and Research

Moccasins, Nêhiyawak, 1920. Gift of the Art Association of Montreal, ME928.8.1-2 © McCord Museum

Ethnology and Archaeology

The McCord Museum’s First Peoples collection is composed of over 16,450 archaeological and historic artefacts recounting nearly 12,000 years of history. Eloquent examples of the material culture of First Nations, Inuit and Métis, primarily from Canada but also from several regions of the United States, Siberia and Greenland, these objects reflect the great diversity and complexity of Aboriginal cultures.

Clothing and accessories comprise over a quarter of the historic objects; the oldest date back to the late 18th century while the most recent were created in the 21st century. The collection also features everyday objects, mainly from the 19th and early 20th centuries: bowls, spoons, baskets and other domestic items, weapons of war, masks and drums, hunting and fishing equipment and materials related to transportation. Many objects exemplify the creative integration of Aboriginal forms and Euro-Canadian styles. Artefacts from the Arctic regions make up one of the collection’s largest sections, thanks to their geographical and historical scope; those from the Eastern Woodlands and the Northwest Coast are among the oldest and rarest.

The collection includes over 8500 archaeological objects, such as potsherds, stone tools and bone tools. These artefacts, some of which are over 10,000 years old, come from across Canada and the Northeastern US, but particularly Ontario and Quebec.

  • Purse, Métis, 1880-1890. Gift of M. Julien F. Gaudet, ME988.136.6 © McCord Museum
  • Parka, Yu'pik from Sivuqaq, 1910-1915. Gift of Dr. Philip N. Cronenwett, ME986.62 © McCord Museum
  • Handkerchief case, Huron-Wendat, 1850-1900. Gift of Henry W. Hill, ME938.10 © McCord Museum
  • Moccasins, Nêhiyawak, 1920. Gift of the Art Association of Montreal, ME928.8.1-2 © McCord Museum
  • Dance stick, Nakoda, 1865-1900. Gift of Mabel Molson, M5396 © McCord Museum
  • Basket painted by Charles Edenshaw and woven by his wife Isabella Edenshaw, Haida, 1921. Gift of the Art Association of Montreal, ACC1811 © McCord Museum

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