Charles Macnamara

July 3, 2014

Photo of Charles

The club honours Charles Macnamara, who in the early 20th century documented wild orchids, birds, beavers, springtails (tiny soil insects, one of which bears his name), and the natural history of the Arnprior area. His photographs, notes, scientific articles, international correspondence with scientists (in three languages) are now housed in the Arnprior and District Archives. His photos provide one of the best available visual records of the early Canadian lumber industry.

Macnamara (1870-1944) was recognized locally and internationally for his work as an experimental photographer, entomologist and field naturalist in the early years of the 20th century. The photos are “printed” on everything from glass to early versions of colour slides to photographic paper.

He worked a six-day week as the chief accountant of the McLachlin Bros. Lumber Co. Yet he was an early “green,” doing his investigations of nature on Sundays, and showing concern when few others did about the destruction of natural habitat occurring in the Ottawa Valley, even at the hands of the company he worked for.

Over a 14-year period, he observed and recorded a beaver colony near Marshall’s Bay, aware that in those days beavers were an endangered species. His photographs recorded the building of beaver dams and lodges, as well as close-ups of the surrounding wild orchids and other plants, birds and insects.

He was responsible for setting up the Nopiming Game Preserve near Arprior in 1920 to provide a safe habitat for local and migratory wildlife and started the annual Christmas bird census with his friend Ligouri Gormley between Braeside and Marshall’s Bay.

For more information on Charles Macnamara visit the Charles Macnamara  exhibit at the Virtual Museum. For a more concrete museum visit, see the Arnprior & District Museum in beautiful downtown Arnprior.