Week 5 B -Graphics, Typography & Package Design

Week Ten Graphics, Typography & Package Design

2. Apprentice Typesetter, Edmonton Bulletin, Edmonton, Alberta, 1904

2.7. Cree Spelling Book, James Evans, Norway House, Manitoba, 1841

Genesis of Canadian Type Design

"In 1841, James Evans, a stubborn Methodist missionary, designed the first typographical images in Norway House, a settlement in northern Manitoba. Having spent the previous two years preparing his now famous Cree spelling-book, Evans felt that it was time to get a press, proper type, paper and ink to finish the project of evangelizing the Crees.

The Hudson's Bay Company was less enthusiastic to relinquish absolute control of communications, having had a practical monopoly of transportation in the area. Evan's efforts wre blocked based on 'excessive weight of the required materials'. Rather curiously, in 1834, a Catholic missionary, the Abbe George-Antoine Belcourt, was also denied a similar request in spite of having 'opened a school for the instruction of the little savages...'

But in James Evans, The Hudson's Bay Company met its match. He refused to be stopped by any obstacle. This courageous pioneer, in fact, designed the type, carved the molds and with a crude knife, cast the type from lead melted down from the lining of tea boxes and made the ink form chimney-soot. As well, he constructed his own press and printed, on birch bark split into small leaves, the spelling-book for the Crees, 'Norway House, 1841' , will remain the genesis of Canadian type design."