Codex Canadensis in Text and Textile

The Codex Canadensis (ca. 1700), the fantastically and exquisitely illustrated natural history by the Jesuit priest Louis Nicolas, provides a fascinating early glimpse into the way both ‘natures’ and environmental knowledges move. On the passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius, a bird extinct since the early 20th century), Nicolas wrote: “Oumimi, or ourité or pigeon. It is seen in such great quantities at the first passage in spring and in autumn that it is unbelievable unless one has seen it.” Recently, the Codex Canadensis has been reproduced in a number of different forms. Library and Archives Canada in partnership with the Gilcrease Museum and the Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Institute for Studies in Canadian Art, has presented a virtual exhibition. McGill-Queen’s University Press has recently published Nicolas’s Codex Canadensis together with The Natural History of the New World in onebeautifully produced and weighty volume. And textile artist Heather Cameron is currently embroidering images from the Codex Canadensis and is documenting the process and her thoughts about it on her blog: True Stitches

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Adam Crymble

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