Project Description

Angela Wood, Curator
William James Sisler, Photographer, Images, Courtesy of the Archives of Manitoba

We had to devise our own program. We taught speaking, reading, writing and spelling through the medium of objects seen and actions done in the school-room, on the playground, on the street, and in the home […] but in the case of objects and actions outside the environment, pictures were employed. William James Sisler

William James Sisler was an educator, providing the means for young immigrant children in early 20th century Northend Winnipeg to learn English, the social skills and the academic knowledge to secure their future.  His modern and progressive approach to education included documenting the immigrant experience in Manitoba.

Photography was part of his approach. He traveled extensively throughout the province, with an ethnographic eye to photography, capturing over 400 images of the subsistence farming techniques, transplanted architecture from the “old country,” religious gatherings, and a large series of portraits. He elaborated upon his images through extensive field notes.