Raconteurs d’histoires : récits de la nation

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Historical Sense of Place: Market Town, Seascape, and Wartime Images

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Jack Turner
The Grave of Boyd Carpenter 1916, Somme Front
L'artiste et son œuvre  |   L'étude de l'œuvre  |   Le patrimoine artistique et culturel
image of artwork
Jack Turner, The Grave of Boyd Carpenter, 1916. Somme Front, 1916. Handcoloured photograph; paper on masonite. 58.7 x 50.5 cm. Collection of CCAG.

Jack Turner was born in 1889 in O'Leary, Prince Edward Island. As a young man, he served as an artillery man in the First World War between 1915 and 1919, mainly in France and Western Europe. For security reasons, soldiers were not permitted to have cameras, but Jack Turner concealed a camera carefully and developed the images wherever a dark space could be found. When he visited friends, he left images with them for safekeeping. He obtained film from home, disguised as cigarettes. His images give an important and unfiltered look at the experience of war that changed lives of Canadians and shaped the country of Canada in the first half of the 20th century. After the war, Turner returned to Prince Edward Island, where he farmed for 35 years.

The experience of the Great War, 1914-1918, left a lasting mark on the youth of Canada and turned Canada into a modern country. Turner's photographs, including The Grave of Boyd Carpenter 1916, Somme Front, provide real and specific images of war experience that is often generalized in history books. They serve as an archive, giving us authentic images of what it meant to be a young person at war at that time. Death, destruction, and devastation were never far away. The strange, disturbing landscape of war takes shape through the images Turner chose to preserve in his photographs.