Davis Inlet Hudson Bay Post, Labrador, 1896
Playthings and Curios: Historic Inuit Art at the Canadian Museum of Civilization
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William Ernest Swaffield, M.B.E. (1867-1952)

William Ernest Swaffield was a Hudson Bay factor in three Labrador posts – Cartwright, North West River and Davis Inlet – between 1880 and 1910. His son, Alex Swaffield of Ottawa, donated a small collection of his father's ivories in 1992 to the Canadian Museum of Civilization.


Bear Bear, 1880–1910
Labrador
Ivory, black colouring
3 x 8 x 2.5 cm
CMC IV-B-1950
Gift of Mr. Alexander Ernest Swaffield, Ottawa, 1992
Collected by William Ernest Swaffield while working at Hudson's Bay trading posts in Cartwright, North West River and Davis Inlet

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This bear is so clean and pristine, it is likely it was created specifically for trade with its collector – Hudson's Bay factor Ernest William Swaffield.


Arctic Fox, 1880–1910
Labrador
Ivory, black colouring
1.8 x 6 x 0.4 cm
CMC IV-B-1949
Gift of Mr. Alexander Ernest Swaffield, Ottawa, 1992
Collected by William Ernest Swaffield while working at Hudson's Bay trading posts in Cartwright, North West River and Davis Inlet
Arctic Fox Top

The brown patch on the animal's right flank is similar to the colouring on the bear in catalogue number iv-b-1950. This carving's clean, crisp condition, and the lively alertness of the fox, are reminiscent of the figure of the bear. It is very likely that the same carver created a whole series of animals out of one ivory tusk and sold them all to Swaffield.

Hunter in Kayak
Hunter in Kayak, 1880–1910
Labrador
Ivory, black colouring
5.5 x 22 x 2.5 cm
CMC IV-B-1957
Gift of Mr. Alexander Ernest Swaffield, Ottawa, 1992
Collected by William Ernest Swaffield while working at Hudson's Bay trading posts in Cartwright, North West River and Davis Inlet
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Seal Seal, 1880–1910
Labrador
Ivory, black colouring
1 x 7.3 x 2 cm
CMC IV-B-1959
Gift of Mr. Alexander Ernest Swaffield, Ottawa, 1992
Collected by William Ernest Swaffield while working at Hudson's Bay trading posts in Cartwright, North West River and Davis Inlet

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The brown patches in the ivory, the crisp condition, and the realistic treatment of the animal, all point to the same artist who did the bear and the fox in Swaffield's collection.