Agnes Deans Cameron

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Agnes Deans Cameron
Born (1863-06-12)12 June 1863[1]
Victoria, British Columbia[1]
Died 13 May 1912(1912-05-13)
Victoria, British Columbia
Nationality Canadian
Occupation writer
journalist
lecturer
educator
adventurer
Organization Institute of Journalists (1910-)
Western Canada Immigration Association
Canadian Women’s Press Club
Known for journalism, social activism, her published book and lectures as the first woman to reach the Arctic Ocean
Religion Presbyterian
Parents Jessie Anderson
Duncan Cameron

Agnes Deans Cameron (20 December 1863 – 13 May 1912) was a Canadian educator, writer, journalist, lecturer, and adventurer. She was the first white woman to reach the Arctic Ocean and her published book about the journey was a best-seller. She promoted immigration to Canada through her lectures and publications.

Early life[edit]

Agnes Deans Cameron was born in Victoria, British Columbia, the youngest child of Duncan and Jessie Cameron. Duncan Cameron was a successful Scots immigrant miner and contractor. She was an outstanding student at Victoria High School, a public school. While still a student she successfully wrote the provincial teachers’ examinations. She taught in the one-room school in Comox in 1882 and then returned to Victoria in 1883 to teach at the private Angela College for girls. By 1894 she was already principal of the South Park School. She was the first woman to hold an administrative office in a co-educational school in Victoria.(Dictionary of Canadian Biographies)[1]

The New North:First woman to reach Arctic Ocean[edit]

In 1908 after twenty five years of teaching, Agnes Cameron accepted a contract with Western Canada Immigration Association based in Chicago. Accompanied by her niece Jessie Brownn, and taking with her, her ever-present typewriter and Kodak camera,(2003 & Holmlund 25) they set out on a 10,000-mile round trip to the Arctic Ocean, the first white women to do so. They travelled by train from Chicago, through Winnipeg and Calgary to Edmonton, then took a stagecoach to Athabaska Landing, then they travelled by Hudson's Bay Company fur brigade scows, down the Athabaska River, across Lake Athabaska, to the Slave River, Slave Lake, the Mackenzie River to the Arctic Ocean. On their return journey with a slightly different route to include the Peace River (where Agnes shot a moose) and also a steamboat's first voyage on the Slave Lake. Based on this adventure Agnes published her book[2] entitled The New North.(2003 & Holmlund 25)[1] [3]

Agnes travelled extensively as lecturer magic lantern slides of her photographic images from this journey. She promoted immigration to western Canada at Oxford, Cambridge, St. Andrew’s University and the Royal Geographical Society.[4] Her photographs were reproduced in 2011-2012 in an exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa, Canada.(Gismondi & 2012 71)[5]

Athabaska[edit]

She was particularly enthusiastic about the Athabaska region and the Athabaska tar sands which included photos of Count Alfred Von Hammerstein's oil drill works along the Athabasca River. "While the Count was unsuccessful drilling for "elephant pools of oil," Cameron’s book and its images became a best seller and made her a media celebrity."(Gismondi & 2012 71)[5] "In all Canada there is no more interesting stretch of waterway than that upon which we are entering. An earth-movement here has created a line of fault clearly visible for seventy or eighty miles along the river-bank, out of which oil oozes at frequent intervals. […] Tar there is […] in plenty. […] It oozes from every fissure, and into some bituminous tar well we can poke a twenty foot pole and find no resistance.(1909 & Cameron 71)[2] cited in (Gismondi & 2012 71)[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d University of Toronto/Laval University (1998–2013). "Agnes Deans Cameron" 14. Dictionary of Canadian Biographies. 
  2. ^ a b Cameron, Agnes Deans (1909). The New North: Being Some Account of a Woman’s Journey through Canada to the Arctic. New York: Appleton. 
  3. ^ Mona Holmlund; Gail Youngberg, eds. (2003). Inspiring Women: A Celebration of Herstory. Coteau Books. p. 25. 
  4. ^ "Cameron, Agnes Deans (1863-1912)". ABC Book World. 
  5. ^ a b c Mike Gismondi; Debra J. Davidson (September 2012). "Imagining the Tar Sands: 1880 -1967 and Beyond" (PDF). Imaginations (3-2). Edmonton, Alberta: Campus Saint-Jean, University of Alberta. pp. 68–102. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Cameron, Agnes Deans (1909). The New North: Being Some Account of a Woman’s Journey through Canada to the Arctic. New York: Appleton. 
  • University of Toronto/Laval University (1998–2013). "Agnes Deans Cameron" 14. Dictionary of Canadian Biography. 
  • St Andrew's Presbyterian Church in the Heart of Victoria's Victoria. "Agnes Deans Cameron 1863-1912". University of Victoria. 
  • Mona Holmlund; Gail Youngberg, eds. (2003). Inspiring Women: A Celebration of Herstory. Coteau Books. p. 25. 
  • "Cameron, Agnes Deans (1863-1912)". ABC Book World. 

External links[edit]