Vintage: Portraits of the First Nations People by Alex Ross (1880s)

Vintage: Portraits of the First Nations People by Alex Ross (1880s)


Alex Ross, 1851-1894, came to Calgary, Alberta in 1884 and set up a photographic studio at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Osler Street. He had previously worked for a photographer in Winnipeg, but felt the time was right to strike out on his own and establish his own business. He quickly became well-known for his photographs of the First Nations people in the Calgary area, especially the Tsuu T’ina (called Sarcee at that time) and the Blackfoot. Some of the photographs were taken outdoors, but many more were carefully-posed studio shots. By 1891 the studio seems to have closed, and three years later Ross died at the relatively young age of 43. Glenbow Archives holds 125 of Alex Ross’s original photographs, a brief but important visual record of the last two decades of the 19th century.

Blackfoot boys, ca. 1886-94

Blackfoot boys, ca. 1886-94

Chief owl of the Blackfoot, 1886

Chief owl of the Blackfoot, 1886

Crowfoot, chief of the Blackfoot, 1887

Crowfoot, chief of the Blackfoot, 1887

Crowfoot, head chief of the Blackfoot, 1887

Crowfoot, head chief of the Blackfoot, 1887

First Nations camp near first Hudson's Bay Company store at Fort Calgary, Alberta, 1886

First Nations camp near first Hudson’s Bay Company store at Fort Calgary, Alberta, 1886

First Nations man and his wife, 1886

First Nations man and his wife, 1886

First Nations man in blanket, ca. 1886-90

First Nations man in blanket, ca. 1886-90

Joseph, Blackfoot man, 1887

Joseph, Blackfoot man, 1887

Rabbit carrier of the Blackfoot, ca. 1886-94

Rabbit carrier of the Blackfoot, ca. 1886-94

Sarcee camp west of Calgary, ca. 1886-89

Sarcee camp west of Calgary, ca. 1886-89

Blackfoot man in blanket, 1886-89

Blackfoot man in blanket, 1886-89

Blackfoot man with knife, ca. 1885-94

Blackfoot man with knife, ca. 1885-94

Blackfoot warrior with sword, 1887

Blackfoot warrior with sword, 1887

Blackfoot woman and baby on her back, 1886

Blackfoot woman and baby on her back, 1886

Blackfoot woman and child in the late 1880s

Blackfoot woman and child in the late 1880s

Blackfoot women, ca. 1880s

Blackfoot women, ca. 1880s

Bobtail, Cree chief, Alberta, 1886

Bobtail, Cree chief, Alberta, 1886

via Glenbow Museum


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