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Description found in Archives



Place of creation


1 painting (miniature) : watercolour on ivory ; 7.7 x 6.5 cm (support).
Support: 6.500 x 7.500 cm (support)
Inventory no.: min035

Scope and content

Item consists of a miniature portrait of Demasduit, also known as Mary March, Shendoreth, Waunathoake, by Lady Henrietta Martha Hamilton. Demasduit is reputed to be one of the last members of the now extinct Beothuk tribe of Newfoundland. Demasduit was born in the interior of Newfoundland, possibly in the Exploits River area. First encounters with European settlers and fishermen had been hostile, and later friendly contact with the Beothuks was encouraged and worth potential reward. Altercations continued and in March 1819, a group of fishermen led by John Peyton set out to recover articles stolen from them by the Boethuks the previous fall. Demasduit was captured by them and her husband Nonosbawsut was killed. Her newborn baby was abandoned in the struggle and subsequently died. Brought to St. John's Newfoundland a few months later, her portrait was painted by Lady Henrietta Hamilton, the wife of the governor of Newfoundland, Sir Charles Hamilton. The governor ordered that she be returned to her people, and several attempts to do so were made from June until December of 1819. Demasduit died of tuberculosis on January 8, 1820 before seeing her home again.

Graphic (art)
90: Open
To be viewed with the assistance of the
Portrait Gallery of Canada
Graphic (art)
Copy negative C-087698
90: Open
Graphic (art)
90: Open
MIN-035 Item no. assigned by LAC 1
90: Open
Archival reference no.
Other accession no.
1977-014 PIC

Terms of use

Credit: Library and Archives Canada, acc. no. 1977-14-1
Copyright: Expired
Restrictions on use: None

Biography / Administrative history

Lady Henrietta Martha Drummond was the daughter of George Drummond of Stanmore, County Middlesex, bank of Charing Cross, London. She was married 19 April 1803, to Charles Hamilton, a British naval captain who later rose to be Vice-Admiral, was appointed to the post of Governor of Newfoundland and Commander-in-Chief of the Naval Station, his term ending in 1824. Nothing is known of her artistic training, although she was known as an amateur painter in Newfoundland.

Additional information

Colour transparencies depict recto, support, and recto in frame

Physical condition note
Feb. 1977 - the work seems in good condition. The ivory is warped from being glued down on one side.
Aug. 1977 - the frame was conserved at CC1, compare C-097697 (before) and C-092599 (after).
Feb. 1977 - the work is glued to a card and in a gold wooden frame.
Aug. 1977 - Frame restored, it is now black instead of gold (see restoration history).

Custodial history
Acquired from the art dealer Harold L. Medjuck, Halifax Nova Scotia. The miniature was once in the possession of the Rennie family of St. John's Newfoundland.

Availability of other formats note
Colour transparency available

Exhibitions note
Exhibition title: Official Opening of the Mary March Museum. Curators: Mary March Regional Museum, Grand Falls, Newfoundland; 1977.09.24 -1977.10.17.
Exhibition title: Newfoundland Interior: 1770-1900. Curators: Edward Tompkins, Newfoundland Museum, St. John's, Newfoundland; 1986.06.08 - 1986.08.14.
Exhibition title: A Place in History / Un moment dans l'histoire. Curators: staff, documentary art section, National Archives of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario; 1990.10.31-1991.033.31, cat. no.: cat. no. 49.
Exhibition title: Facing History : portraits from the National Archives of Canada / Face à Face : portraits des Archives nationales du Canada. Curators: Lydia Foy, Sylvie Gervais, Peter Robertson, National Archives of Canada, ottawa, Ontario; O 1993.05.27-1993.09.03, cat. no.: cat. no. 27.
Exhibition title: Small Wonders... / De petites merveilles.... Curators: Martha Marleau, National Archives of Canada, cat. no.: 9b. Further venue: National Archives of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario: 1995.02.13-1995.06.26.
Exhibition title: Treasured Memories.
Curators: Tétrault, Martin.
Curators: National Archives of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario; 1997.05.14 - 1998.01.
"Newfoundland Interior: 1960-1900," April 15-August 30, 1986. Government of Newfoundland.

Signatures and inscriptions
Inscription: Inscribed on backing paper, verso of frame: Mary March / a Female Native / Indian of the / Red Indians who / inhabit Newfound / land painted by / Lady Hamilton / 18

Subject heading

1. Aboriginal.
2. SUBJ. - Portrait : Mary March - Aboriginal Female, 1819.


Other system control no.

Related control no.

1977-014 PIC