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Rabbit Holes in the Archives and Library of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

Updated: Apr 16, 2019

A Brief Look at the Leonard Leacock fonds



By Lindsay A. Stokalko, Reference Archivist/Librarian


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After a few mentions and one photograph in the previous Cairn article about the Dan and Mary McCowan fonds, the next Rabbit Hole in the Archives & Library that will be briefly explored in this article pertains to Leonard Leacock.



Figure 1 — 113 Len Leacock, guide, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Dan and Mary McCowan fonds (V408/I/C/I/NA14/113)

Leonard Leacock was born on May 28th, 1904 in London, England and moved to Banff with his parents Henry William (Harry) Leacock, Roseanne Kate Leacock and younger brother Ernest Leacock in 1908.


Figure 2 – [Roseanne Kate Leacock, Henry William Leacock and sons Ernest and Leonard Leacock], 1908, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Leacock family fonds (V352/PA-24)







They lived in a former Bankhead house which was moved to the corner of Banff Avenue and Moose Street (349 Banff Avenue) in 1926. The house, an Eaton’s Catalogue Home with a fascinating history, has since been moved from its second location, and can be booked as an accommodation in Banff.



Figure 3 – L12 B13 Res. Fr + N [Lot 12, Block 13 residence front and north – 349 Banff Avenue] – 27/9/37, 1937, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Parks Canada fonds (V488/block 13/lot 12/1)

Leonard worked as a guide on pack trips in the Banff area through a partnership with Rocky Mountain Transport Company. He was an active mountaineer, member of the Alpine Club of Canada and a prolific photographer.




Figure 4 – Advertisement for “Shadow Lake Hiking and Camping Tours” with Leonard Leacock as guide, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Leonard Leacock fonds (M372/18/1)

Figure 5 – Lake on Jonas Pass July 1929 [1932], with accompanying letter from G.H.G. to the Archives dated September 13, 1957, Leonard Leacock/photographer, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Leonard Leacock fonds (V353/PA-69-2)





He was an accomplished musician who was educated through the Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto and the Royal School of Music, London and taught at Mount Royal College from 1924 to 1987. The Leacock Theatre at Mount Royal University was dedicated to him in 1972.


































Figure 6 — [Leonard Leacock at piano], Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Leacock family fonds (V352/PA-22)

Figure 7 – Programme for Mount Royal College Symphony Series featuring Frances James and Leonard Leacock, February 21st, 1949 – signed by Frances James, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Leonard Leacock fonds (M372/15/3)

You can hear his musical composition Lakeside here, re-imagined as a multi-media performance piece in 2011 by artists Miriam Fabijan and Oli Siska and composers George Fenwick and Laurie Radford. The Archives & Library of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies also hold several interviews and performance recordings (S24) as well as many original musical scores (M372/5 to 13).


Figure 8 – Musical score for “Lonely Lake – Violin & Piano” composed by Leonard Leacock, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Leonard Leacock fonds (M372/5/1)

There are a multitude of interesting items in the Leonard Leacock fonds (M372 / S24 / V353) and the Leacock family fonds (V352) to explore, including Leonard’s daily diaries (M372/2), his correspondence with poet and long time friend Earle Birney (M372/1), scrapbooks (M372/3), Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra programmes with programme notes written by Leonard Leacock (M372/14), and photo albums (V352/lc).














Figure 9 – April 14th and April 15th diary entries by Leonard Leacock, 1930, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Leonard Leacock fonds (M372/2)

Figure 10 – Page 3 & 4 from the February 25th, 1963 Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra Programme featuring programme notes by Leonard Leacock, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Leonard Leacock fonds (M372/14/9)


Figure 11 – Scrapbook compiled by Leonard Leacock, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Leonard Leacock fonds (M372/3)

You can search the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies Archives & Library finding aid for additional information pertaining to Leonard Leacock by typing “Leacock” in the Word or Phrase field.


There are also Leonard Leacock fonds held at the Mount Royal University Library, Archives and Special Collections pertaining to his career as teacher, pianist and composer.


This photograph, spotted here in a Leacock family photo album, will lead us down the next Rabbit Hole:


Figure 12 – The flyingboat “Totem” at Minnewanka about 1932, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Leacock family fonds (V352/lc-35)

Check out this great post by the Peel Art Gallery Museum and Archives from some excellent tips on how to best use reference services at archival institutions, then come in to explore your own research rabbit holes at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies Archives & Library – appointments are preferred and recommended. You can reach us at archives@whyte.org.


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