SEPTEMBER 30, 1973


Born in November 1902, on Nottingham Island, Northwest Territories (NWT), Peter, while a camp leader, saw traditional Inuit life disappearing & sought to record its passing, writing manuscripts & diaries, drawing customs & legends, and photographing life around him. In the early 1940s, while living in Cape Dorset, NWT, working for fur traders, he acquired a camera from a missionary and developed his first pictures in a hunting igloo, using as a safelight a 3-battery flashlight covered with red cloth. A fine artist, he is credited with Cape Dorset’s earliest contemporary works on paper–watercolor drawings executed in 1939. Author D. Eber retold Pitseolak’s early life in People from Our Side (1975), and later an account of near ice floe disaster in Peter Pitseolak’s Escape from Death (1978). Over a 20-year period, Pitseolak took over 1500 pictures comprising an insider’s record of the final moments of Inuit camp life. These ultimately were sold to the National Museums of Canada. Pitseolak died at Cape Dorset.

Source:  Dorothy Harley Eber, “Peter Pitseolak,” The Canadian Encyclopedia, 1/30/2008.  Retrieved 3/1/2022, Peter Pitseolak | The Canadian Encyclopedia
Photo:  Charles Gimpel (1913-73), 1968. Public Domain.  Source: Library and Archives Canada under the reproduction reference number e008222804 and under the MIKAN ID number 4942315.