Fonds C 330 - John Macfie fonds

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John Macfie fonds

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Reference code

CA ON00009 C 330

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  • [1920]-2009, predominant 1946-1980 (Creation)

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Physical description

1390 photographs : black and white negatives, colour slides
18 items of textual records

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Name of creator


Biographical history

John Macfie (1925-) was a provincial civil servant working in northern Ontario for the Department of Lands and Forests, an author, and an amateur photographer.

He was born near Dunchurch Ontario in 1925. His career with the Ontario Department of Lands and Forests began in 1949 when he was hired as an apprentice log scaler and forest ranger. He held various positions within the Department of Lands and Forests until his retirement in 1981.

In 1950 the Department of Lands and Forests expanded operations in Northern Ontario following the signing of an agreement by the Ontario and Federal Governments to manage and preserve the wild fur reserves in Northern Ontario. John Macfie was hired at that time as a trapline management officer working out of Sioux Lake. As a trapline manager he resolved trapline boundary disputes, audited beaver house counts and monitored wildlife abundance and habitats.

Macfie combined his government work with a personal interest in photography. During the ten years that he worked in the north, he often carried a camera with him on field trips where he recorded native people and events and his fellow staff. Likewise, Macfie often carried a camera when visiting the family farm near Dunchurch and when accompanying his father and brothers into the bush.

In 1960, Macfie returned to Parry Sound where he continued working with the Ontario Department of Lands and Forests as a senior conservation officer in the Fish and Wildlife Division. During this time, he returned briefly to the north to work on aerial counting of polar bears in 1963 and 1964 in the Attawapskat area.

In 1972 he became supervisor of the Fish and Wildlife Branch, Parry Sound District, a position he held until his retirement in 1981. Following his retirement, Macfie published Now and Then: More Footnotes to Parry Sound History (1985), Hudson Bay Watershed: A Photographic Memoir of the Ojibway, Cree and Oji-Cree (published with Basil Johnson in 1991), and Tales From Another Time: Oral History of Early Times in Parry Sound District (2000), among many other published works.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Fonds consists of negative photographs taken by John Macfie while he worked with the Department of Lands and Forests in Northern Ontario. The photographs depict various Cree, Iroquois, and Ojibway tribes and activities in the Patricia District, an area that extended directly north of Lake Superior on the western edge of James Bay and Hudson's Bay. It included Fort Severn, Fort Albany, Attawapiskat, Landsdowne House, Sioux Lookout, Weenusk, Moose Factory, Gogoma and Mattagami Reserve.

Macfie photographed with a Kodak camera, a Rolleicord, and a Zeiss Contax for 35 mm colour slides. His images depict native people and activities and include trapping, construction of tools and artifacts, images of dwellings and community buildings and domestic activities. Macfie's photographs also depict activities relating to agriculture, maple sugar farming, the logging industry, the commercial fishing industry, archeological digs along the French and Shebeshekong rivers, site investigations in McKellar, Ontario, as well as aerial surveys of polar bears and other wildlife near James Bay and Hudson Bay. Some photographs depict Ministry staff on expeditions. Life on the Macfie family farm, and the family's timber harvesting and sawmill operations are also documented.

John Macfie provided extensive identification for all of the photographs. This information includes the date and location of the photograph, names of subjects, and description of the activities. Additionally included are articles written by Macfie that provide detail about the subject matter of the photographs.

Fonds also consists of diaries, field notes and a glossary written by John Macfie during his trips to Northern Ontario as a trapline management officer for the Department of Lands and Forests.The field notes represent his official notes of his field trips and most are accompanied by a map of the area examined on that trip. These field notes were the source material for his report on his investigation to the Department. The diaries, on the other hand, present a personal account of his experiences during his field trips. The diaries complement the photographs by describing verbally some of the items depicted in the photographs.

Also included in the fonds is a copy of a technical circular attached to which is a note by Macfie stating how this circular shaped his thinking as a trapline management officer, as well as correspondence between the Royal Ontario Museum and the Department District Officer regarding some specimens collected by Macfie.

For a more detailed description, use this link to the Archives of Ontario's descriptive database:

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Fonds was acquired from John Macfie in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2009.


The arrangement given to the records by John Macfie has been fully retained. The photographs in this fonds have been arranged into 32 series, and the textual items have been arranged into four separate series.

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Script of material

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Some of the photographs in this fonds are available through the Archives of Ontario's Visual Images Database.

Copy prints are available for some of the photographs in this fonds. See series descriptions for more information.

Restrictions on access

No restrictions on access.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Copyright to the textual records has been transferred from John Macfie to the Archives of Ontario. John Macfie has retained copyright until the time of his death to the photographs comprising series C 330-1 to C 330-14 and C 330-16. The donor has retained copyright to material comprising C 330-12-0-0-15 to C 330-12-0-0-48 and series C 330-19 to C 330-32 until September 24, 2014, at which time copyright will be transferred to the Archives of Ontario. \expndtw-3Fonds also contains material by other copyright owners. There are no restrictions on reproduction. Permission of the Archives of Ontario is required for publication; submit a Request for Permission to Publish form. Please contact a Reference Archivist for more information.

Finding aids

For a more detailed description, use this link to the Archives of Ontario's descriptive database:

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General note

Some of these photographs were published in Hudson Bay Watershed: A Photographic Memoir of the Ojibway, Cree and Oji-Cree, John Macfie and Basil Johnson, Dundurn Press: Toronto, 1991.

General note

Some of these photographs were published in Hudson Bay Watershed: A Photographic Memoir of the Ojibway, Cree and Oji-Cree, by John Macfie and Basil Johnson, Dundurn Press: Toronto, 1991.

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Rev. Mar/12.

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