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People of the Watershed: Photographs by John Macfie

May 11 - November 17

People of the Watershed: Photographs by John Macfie

May 11 to November 17, 2024

About the Exhibition

People of the Watershed: Photographs by John Macfie includes more than 100 photographs taken by John Macfie (1925–2018), a settler trapline manager who worked in Northern Ontario in the 1950s and 1960s. Macfie travelled with a camera, recording life in Anishinaabe, Cree, and Anisininew communities during a period of intense and rapid change. The people and places of Attawapiskat, Sandy Lake, Mattagami, and other communities across the Hudson’s Bay watershed are revealed through his lens in ways that emphasize the warmth and continuity of community life. Curated by nîpisîhkopâwiyiniw (Willow Cree) curator, writer, journalist, cultural advocate, and commentator Paul Seesequasis, the exhibition centers the lives and resiliency of the Indigenous people represented, many of whom have been identified by Macfie and Seesequasis.

People of the Watershed: Photographs by John Macfie is presented by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in partnership with CONTACT Photography Festival.

For media inquiries and more information, please visit the Press Room.

John Macfie, Child in a tikinagun, Lansdowne House, 1956, photograph, John Macfie fonds, C330-14-0-0-63, Archives of Ontario.

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About Paul Seesequasis

Paul Seesequasis is a nîpisîhkopâwiyiniw (Willow Cree) curator, writer, journalist, cultural advocate and commentator in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He has been active in the Indigenous arts as an artist and a policy-maker since the 1990s, and since 2015 he has curated the Indigenous Archival Photo Project, an online and physical exhibition of archival Indigenous photographs that explores history, identity, and the process of visual reclamation. He is the author of Blanket Toss Under Midnight Sun: Portraits of Everyday Life in Eight Indigenous Communities (2019).

About John Macfie

John Macfie (1925-2018) was an amateur photographer, local historian and writer. Originally from Dunchurch, Ontario, Macfie moved to Sioux Lookout in 1950 to become a trap management officer with the Department of Lands and Forests. He later moved to Gogama and then to Geraldton, working as a fish and wildlife supervisor in both regions, before returning to Parry Sound in 1960. He later became a columnist for the Georgian Bay Beacon and the Parry Sound North Star. This is the first major exhibition of his photography. His photographic archive is part of the collection of the Archives of Ontario.

John Macfie, Henry Kechebra calling a moose, Mattigami Reserve, 1959, photograph, John Macfie fonds, C330-14-0-0-22, Archives of Ontario.

Curatorial Talk

Saturday, May 11
at 2 pm
at the McMichael

Gallery Tour

Sundays, May 12, 19 and 26
at 12:30 pm
at the McMichael

picture of 3 children

Buy the book
People of the Watershed:
Photographs by John Macfie

at the Gallery Shop

Artworks from the Exhibition

John Macfie, Miss Gray, daughter of Duncan Gray, Fort Severn, c. 1955, photograph, John Macfie fonds, C330-14-0-0-75, Archives of Ontario.

John Macfie, Students at Pelican Residential School, Sioux Lookout, c. 1953, photograph, John Macfie fonds, C330-14-0-0-100, Archives of Ontario

John Macfie, Seal blubber hanging to dry in Attawapiskat, August 29, 1963, photograph, John Macfie fonds, C330-14-0-0-155, Archives of Ontario.


May 11
November 17
Event Category: