Fort Chimo, Quebec, 1897
Playthings and Curios: Historic Inuit Art at the Canadian Museum of Civilization
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Duncan G. Burgess

This collection was purchased from the widow of Duncan G. Burgess in 1930. Although the CMC Archives has the complete correspondence between Mrs. Burgess and Diamond Jenness, then Chief of the Division of Anthropology, it is nowhere stated under what conditions these pieces were collected. However, it is clearly documented that they were made in the area of Fort Chimo, now Kuujjuaq, before 1930.

The collection allows comparison with two others. Both the Paul Bonard collection, and Edward Caldwell's, are from Fort Chimo and have tusks carved in the round similar to the one in the Burgess collection.

Carved Walrus Tusk
Carved Walrus Tusk, before 1930
Kuujjuaq (Fort Chimo), Nunavik
Ivory, black colouring
6.5 x 40 x 3 cm
CMC IV-B-623
Collected by Duncan G. Burgess

The originator of this large impressive work, sculpted in the round, probably used an entire walrus tusk. The black dots, marking the feathers of an owl, are reminiscent of carved tusks collected by Caldwell in 1914. Anthropologist Frank Speck discusses works in a similar style from the 1920s, also from this region, and now at the American Museum of Natural History.* It looks as if there is an unbroken tradition going back as early as 1904, when Paul Bonard collected his tusks in the Ungava region.

*Frank Speck
1927 – "Eskimo Carved Ivories from Northern Labrador." Indian Notes, vol. 4, #4, pp. 309-314.

Martijn, Charles

1967 – "A Retrospective Glance at Canadian Eskimo Carving." Beaver Magazine. Autumn 1967, ill. p. 10.

Walrus Walrus, before 1930
Kuujjuaq (Fort Chimo), Nunavik
Ivory, black colouring
2.1 x 4.3 x 1.8 cm
CMC IV-B-629
Collected by Duncan G. Burgess


Although a charming creature, this diminutive walrus may well have started out as a child's toy. The hind flippers are fully carved underneath, indicating that it was meant to be held and looked at from all sides.

Standing Woman, before 1930
Kuujjuaq (Fort Chimo), Nunavik
Ivory, colouring
10 x 3 x 3 cm
CMC IV-B-626
Collected by Duncan G. Burgess
  Standing Woman Top

Although fairly large, this crude representation of a woman, with neither hands nor feet, was presumably made as a toy. This assumption is supported by the fact that the face has not been sculpted, but painted. It seems that the figure's maker was not inclined to devote much time to its creation.

Dog   Dog, before 1930
Kuujjuaq (Fort Chimo), Nunavik
Ivory, black colouring
2.6 x 5.5 x 0.9 cm
CMC IV-B-630
Collected by Duncan G. Burgess


With its head raised, and its tail and ears alert to what is going on around, this animal seems to have a personality of its own. It is far from a generic depiction of a dog. Is this a portrait done by its owner?