Collection LA.SC126 - Pamela Harris Spence Bay collection

Identity area

Reference code



Pamela Harris Spence Bay collection


  • 1971-2012, predominantly 1972-1976 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

39.5 cm of textual and graphic material
394 photographs
1 35mm film strip
1 audio disc
2 audio cassettes
4 audio reels

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Born in Erie, Pennsylvania in 1940, Pamela Harris completed her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature at Pomona College in 1962, and moved to Toronto in 1967. A self-taught photographer, her work has consistently engaged with issues of social activism and feminist themes. In 1984, she embarked on perhaps her best known project Faces of Feminism, spending the next several years photographing women across Canada. The resulting work was exhibited extensively around Canada, and a selection of 75 photographs was published by Second Story Press as the book Faces of Feminism in 1992.

Pamela Harris first visited Spence Bay in September 1972. In 1973, she spent another four months in Spence Bay, Northwest Territories (now Taloyoak, Nunavut) photographing the people and landscape of the community, conducting interviews, and establishing a community darkroom where she taught local residents (mostly Inuit craftswomen) how to process film and print their own photographs.

In addition to the monograph Another Way of Being, published in 1976, Harris’ Spence Bay. N.W.T. photographs were exhibited in 1974-76 at The Photographers' Gallery in Saskatoon, the David Mirvish Gallery in Toronto, and the Monterey Peninsula Museum of Art in California. Photographs taken and printed by the Spence Bay residents as part of the darkroom project and natural dyes workshop were exhibited in 1974 at the Arctic Women's Workshop, a craft conference and exhibition held at the TD Centre in Toronto. An interview Harris conducted with Theresa Quaqjuaq, one of the Inuit women who participated in the darkroom project with Pamela Harris, was recorded and included in the 1973 Women’s Kit, a teaching aid Harris produced for the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) to be used in high schools and colleges for teaching women’s history in Canada. Excerpts of this interview, as well as an interview with Pamela Harris, were also aired on CBC Radio.

A small settlement near Boothia Peninsula (formerly Boothia Felix) in the Kitikmeot Region, Spence Bay was established by the Hudson Bay Company as a trading post in the 1950s, and settled by Netsilik and Dorset people. According to Harris, the population was about 400 in 1972-1973, most of whom had settled there within the past fifteen years, and many of whom spoke only Inuktitut. Her portraits of the people she met during her stay there and photographs of the landscape she encountered document the traditional ways of life and the rapid changes it underwent due to the cultural influences of the south.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

AGO credit line: Gift of Randall McLeod, 2012

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The collection comprises archival material related to Harris’s photographic work from her time in Spence Bay, as well as that of the darkroom project she conducted while living there. The archival collection consists of Pamela Harris’ original contact sheets; her active and passive correspondence; documentation, publicity and text panels related to her exhibitions of Spence Bay photographs; audio recordings of interviews with people she met and worked with in Spence Bay; and related materials from the 1973 Women’s Kit. It includes the 28 b&w photographs taken by the Inuit women participants of the concurrent natural dyes workshop and the related text panels exhibited at the Artic Women’s Craft Conference and TD Centre in 1974, as well as documentation of their work in the Darkroom Project and the resulting exhibition. It also includes a questionnaire designed and distributed by Pamela Harris and colleague Paul Carter to other documentary photographers during this same time period.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


Further accruals are not expected.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Access to Series 1: Correspondence, file 2-9 [Theresa (sic) leaving Q.] is restricted as noted below. Access to Special Collections is by appointment only. Please contact the reference desk for more information.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copyright is held by the creator. Copyright belonging to other parties, such as that of photographs, may still rest with the creator of these items. It is the researcher’s responsibility to obtain permission to publish any part of the collection.

Language of material

  • English
  • French
  • Inuktitut

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Photographs include 44 b&w prints, 28 mounted on board; 179 b&w contact sheets; 167 colour slide transparencies.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

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Notes area


Titles of series, files and items are supplied by the artist, unless otherwise noted. — Variations on spelling of Inuit names as noted. A guide to registered birth name and name of choosing is available for reference (see Series 2: Darkroom Project Files, box 2-13). Wherever possible these names were used, however common spellings of names do not necessarily relate to this guide, in which case the most commonly found spelling of a name was used.

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Level of detail


Dates of creation revision deletion




Archivist's note

Prepared by Marilyn Nazar, 2013, with assistance by Molly Kalkstein. Updated by Amy Furness, April 2017
Uploaded and adapted by Nirvana Chainani, 2019.

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