Glenbow Museum - Where the World Meets the West

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R.N. Wilson fonds


Physical Description:
9 cm of textual records. -- 132 photographs

Robert Nathaniel Wilson, 1863-1944, was born in Ontario. He joined the North-West Mounted Police (NWMP) and served in Fort Macleod, Alberta and Fort Pitt and Battleford, Saskatchewan, 1881-1884. He then ran a trading post on the Belly River near Stand Off, Alberta. In 1888 he married Lila Hillier, 1868-1939, who was originally from England. He was the Indian agent at the Peigan Indian Agency, 1898-1903, and on the Blood reserve, 1904-1911. During these years he recorded ethnological information about the Blood, Blackfoot (Siksika) and Peigan. He also purchased native artifacts on behalf of the Field Museum of Chicago and other American museums, ca. 1893-1905. He wrote several scientific articles for the Royal Society of Canada. In 1911 he returned to his trading post at Stand Off.

Custodial History:
Most of R. N. Wilson's papers were destroyed shortly after his death by the executor of his estate. A few papers were saved by a Fort Macleod resident and were given to Glenbow. Mounted Police historian J. P. Turner had some of Wilson's papers in Ottawa and he deposited Wilson's diary at Library and Archives Canada.

Scope and Content:
The fonds consists of articles and ethnological notes on Blackfoot legends and customs (1897); two bound volumes of R.N. Wilson's ethnological writings on the Blackfoot and Blood (1890-1897), transcribed and edited by Philip H. Godsell on behalf of the Glenbow in 1958, including information about customs, Red Crow, sun dance, moon dance, Horn Society, Running Wolf, Scalp Roller, sacrificial ceremony, and a Blood winter count; and photographs of the Blood and Peigan reserves, Blood personalities and ceremonies, tipis, Writing-On-Stone and NWMP.

Source of Acquisition:
Gift of Philip Godsell, Paull Sharron, Charles Middleton, Barney Reeves, Donough O'Brien and purchased, 1958-1985.

The material is in English.

Originals and Reproductions:
The original manuscripts upon which the edited volumes are based are held by the RCMP.

No restrictions on access.

Finding Aids:
Inventory available. Please consult before requesting material.

View finding aid / scanned documents:

Wilson's diary (1881-1888) is held by Library and Archives Canada; other Wilson records are in the Provincial Archives of Alberta.

Call Numbers:
(M=manuscript; N&P=photos; R=sound recordings; S=slides; F=films)
M-4421, M-4422, PA-706, NA-668, NA-2075, NA-4461, ND-34, Microfilm Wilson

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