In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, travelling within North American borders or beyond to exotic locations was difficult at best and disastrous at worst. Mary Schaffer, born into a Pennsylvania-based Quaker family in 1861, not only conquered international travel but also excelled as an explorer, surveyor and photographer in the backcountry of Canada’s Rocky Mountains and the isolated communities of Japan and Formosa (now Taiwan).
Michale Lang’s new book features more than 200 of Mary Schaffer’s colourful, hand-painted lantern slides from the archives of the Whyte Musem of the Canadian Rockies. These unique works of art detail some of the indigenous people and breathtaking landscapes of the Rocky Mountains, along with tribal communities of Japan and Formosa. Schaffer’s writing, Michale Lang’s accompanying narrative and the book’s overall design (inspired by the work of Barbara Hodgson, author and designer of The Tattooed Map, No Place for a Lady and Opium) opens a unique window on the Victorian obsession with international travel and discovery.
After stumbling into the text while looking at the photographs, I found the second section of Lang’s book to be more fascinating simply given that the subject is so different from the rest of the book. It also gives readers an opportunity to explore the broader world, while allowing us to gain some insight into the experience of indigenous people in other pars of the world.—The Rocky Mountain Outlook
Lang’s volume is valuable ... especially for the light it sheds on Schäffer’s continuing interest in Aboriginal peoples.—Alberta Views