Documentary Art - Musee McCord

Collections and Research

Formely attibuted to Joseph Légaré, The Burning of the Parliament Building in Montreal, 1849. M11588 © McCord Museum

Documentary Art

The Documentary Art collection is made up of painted, drawn and printed images illustrating the history of Canada and Canadian society. These iconographic documents, produced by professional and amateur artists alike, depict people, places, scenes, historic and political events and objects. Reflecting the opinions and attitudes of Canadians, they can sometimes even be symbols of culture and identity.

The collection is noteworthy for its corpus of satirical drawings covering over two and a half centuries of Canadian history. Comprising some 35,000 original caricatures, it is the second largest compilation of its kind in the country. A valuable resource for researchers and historians working in the humanities and social sciences, these drawings help illustrate the evolution of Quebec society.

In addition, the collection includes some 10,000 original works and approximately 10,000 prints of people and places, spotlighting individuals who have significantly influenced our social history, as well as landscapes and cityscapes that document the growth of Canada’s urban centres, particularly Montreal, and the historic sites of the province of Quebec. There are also panoramic views, bird’s-eye maps, illustrations of buildings and monuments, representations of human activity in both urban and rural settings, and even historic and military scenes.

Finally, the fonds of illustrators and printers, illustrated newspapers and posters complete this extensive gallery of historic images.

  • Formely attibuted to Joseph Légaré, <i>The Burning of the Parliament Building in Montreal</i>, 1849. M11588 © McCord Museum
  • Miniature portraits of Officer James Cuthbert and his child. Medallion, about 1797-1798, charm about 1815-1820. Gift of Dr. Wendy C. Weaver, M2009.31.5.1-2 © McCord Museum
  • Cornelius Krieghoff, <i>The Shakspeare Club</i>, 1847. Gift of Mrs. E. R. Brodhead, M2000.95.1 © McCord Museum
  • George Townshend, <i>General James Wolfe, at Quebec</i>, 1759. Gift of David Ross McCord, M1793 © McCord Museum
  • James Duncan, <i>Montreal from the Mountain</i>, about 1830-1831. Gift of William D. Lighthall, M966.61 © McCord Museum
  • Peter Rindisbacher, <i>Captain Bulger, Governor of Assiniboia, and the Chiefs and Warriors of the Chippewa Tribe of Red Lake, in Council in the Colony House in Fort Douglas, May 22nd, 1823</i>, 1823. M965.9 © McCord Museum


Resonance gives you privileged access to behind the scenes of the Museum and
its collections.
Explore multiple perspectives on the collections and our history through unique content, interviews with artists and our experts, as well as research and discoveries.

Christian Vachon

Christian Vachon, 2017 © Laura Dumitriu

Meet the curator Christian Vachon and learn more about his expertise and what he does.

Explore this collection

View objects online

Not to be missed!

Support your Museum

Make a donation now and contribute to the fundraising campaign.