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Intro Sir Wilfred Grenfell IGA Lantern Slides Timeline Glossary

IGA Magic Lantern Shows

Magic lantern shows were a popular form of entertainment in the 1890s when Dr. Wilfred Grenfell commenced his mission to Newfoundland and Labrador. Magic lanterns were a predecessor of the slide projector and projected images from glass slides. The slides, which were frequently hand-tinted, created vivid images which were indeed magical. Magic lantern
Slide shows
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slides were also commonly used by lecturers to illustrate their talks and to raise monies for their causes.

Grenfell documented his initial visit to Newfoundland and Labrador in 1892, and his commentary and photographs were published in the RNMDSF publication, Toilers of the Deep. He later made the photographs into lantern slides and used them to illustrate lectures, intended to elicit monies in Great Britain for the Labrador mission. In 1893, Drs. Grenfell and Eliot Curwen brought cameras and plates to Labrador Using the dry-plate process, Curwen developed the plates aboard the mission ship, Albert. This was the beginning of an extensive photographic record of Northern Newfoundland and Labrador created by Grenfell staff, volunteers and visitors.

Dr. Grenfell used slides in his many promotional tours in Canada and the United States to illustrate the activities of the IGA and to solicit funds for the work of the mission. The lantern slides emphasized the medical and material need in Northern Newfoundland and Labrador, sometimes to the displeasure of local residents. While documenting the progress of mission work, the slides also reflected the cultural values of the photographers, most of whom were English, Canadian or American urban professionals, and the fascination of the audiences with the exotic. This was illustrated in the depiction of Aboriginal peoples, the curiosity of Mission workers about the cod fisheries and a rural lifestyle, and their fascination with the winter landscape.