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John and John Henry Walker fonds (P729)

1819-about 1911. - 10 cm of textual records. - 1 photograph.

Administrative History - Biographical Sketch:

John Henry Walker (1831-1899) was a pioneer Canadian engraver and illustrator. He was the son of John Walker (d. 1841 in Rochester, N.Y.), medical doctor and surgeon, and Margaret Jackson (d. 1858 in Montreal). His family was from Ballamony, Antrim County, in Northern Ireland. After emigrating to Canada in 1824, the family moved to Rochester before settling in Montreal. In 1845, John Henry Walker was apprenticed for three years to the engraver Cyrus A. Swett, where he was trained in copper and wood engraving. After a stay in Boston in 1848 where Swett had moved, he returned to Montreal.

Walker provided engravings for catalogues, government reports, advertisements and magazines such as The Canadian Illustrated News, L'Opinion publique and Le Monde illustré, and produced the front-cover illustration for his launching of Punch in Canada in 1849. Styled on the English Punch, the magazine failed when published by Walker as a weekly. His other short-lived humorous periodicals were The Jester, Grinchuckle and Diogenes. Regarded as a pioneer of political cartooning in Canada, he dominated engraving in Montreal from 1845 into the 1890s.

In 1864, Walker married Sarah Lawlord (ca. 1838-1878), an Irish immigrant and daughter of a Montreal gardener. Between 1857 and 1874, the couple had eight children, including daughters Rosaleen Walker-Mignault and Kathleen Walker-Burns.

Scope and Content:

This fonds pertains to the Walker Family, especially John Walker, doctor and surgeon, and his son John Henry Walker (1831-1899), engraver in Montreal.

The fonds contains documents relating to both men. The documents are held in two bound volumes: one is a scrapbook (see M932.8.1.1) which also contains numerous copies of engravings; the other volume is a book (see M911.1.1) titled History of Wood Engraving in America by J. W. Linton.

The first section of the scrapbook contains information on John Walker. It includes his notes about his departure from Belfast in 1824 and his arrival in Quebec City and Montreal the same year, a diploma in midwifery from Glasgow College dated 1826, a note on the death of Joseph Walker, a letter about Lord Dalhousie, a health certificate for a John Smith, prose from him, letters to his wife Margaret, receipts for his medical services, a lease for a house in Rochester, N.Y., a receipt for a plot in the Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester with a map, a list of goods purchased by him in Rochester, letters of recommendation for J. H. Walker's sister Everina, a letter from John Allen, mayor of Rochester and good friend of John Walker.

The scrapbook also contains documents related to his son, John Henry Walker. Of note: letters to him (including some from his mother, from John Leggo, inventor of the Leggotype, from William Workman, mayor of Montreal, from politician Louis-Hector Langevin and from Dr. Wolfred Nelson), a subscription card for the Mechanics' Institute of Montreal, payments, accounts, letters, agreements and requests for his engravings, a phrenological chart of the temperament of J. H. Walker, an invitation and letters from Henry J. Clarke, letters and notes regarding Walker's work for the magazines Diogenes and Grinchuckle, a notification from William Workman's lawyers about a libel suit and a reply from Walker, an annotated copy of the by-laws of the Society of Canadian Artists, bills and letters concerning Walker & Wiseman, Designers and Engravers on Wood, a set of documents pertaining to a trip to Ireland in 1876, including a list of passengers, a flyer and bill of fare for the S.S. Peruvian of the Allan Line, along with a safe-conduct for his trip, hotel bills, a letter home to his wife Sarah, a printed text on the town of Ballymoney, a map of Ireland and a circus program from Dublin, letters from scientists George Mercer Dawson, Joseph Frederick Whiteaves and Robert Bell (of the Geological Survey), a lease for a house, a health note regarding Mrs. Walker, a calling letter from Honoré Mercier, a program for an "Athletic Sports" event hosted by the North West Mounted Police, a letter and subscription flyer from John Lovell, and finally many examples of letterhead and advertisements for Walker's engraving work.

It should also be noted that the album contains many annotations by John Henry Walker, who gave the scrapbook the title Reminiscences of John Walker M. DF. of his son J. H. Walker. The scrapbook is also annotated by David Ross McCord.

The fonds also includes the book History of Wood Engraving in America, which contains on its ending blank pages a nine-page autobiographical text written by John Henry Walker in April 1886. This text is part of a larger essay by Walker entitled Wood Engraving in Canada; the autobiographical text is followed by pasted copies of engravings, most of them annotated by Walker. Two small newspaper obituaries are also pasted into this part of the book, as are three letters sent by Charles Mignault to David Ross McCord about the donation of the book in 1911.

The fonds also contains a photographic print of John Henry Walker from the Notman Studios.