McGill Web Gems: The Expo summer of 67 and birds of a feather

McGill Web Gems: The Expo summer of 67 and birds of a feather McGill University

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McGill Reporter
March 6, 2008 - Volume 40 Number 13
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The Expo summer of 67 and birds of a feather

Join us as we unearth the hidden gems and secret places on the websites of McGill University and its affiliated institutions.

Erratum: In an earlier column reviewing the website of the Burney Centre at McGill University at, we somehow neglected to mention the woman behind it all, the late Greenshields Professor Emerita of English, Joyce Hemlow. Hemlow joined McGill in 1948 and championed the work of 18th century author Frances Burney throughout her career. She founded the McGill Burney Papers Project (later renamed the Burney Centre) in 1960 and remained active in Burney scholarship virtually until she died at the age of 95 in 2001.

Expo 67 Slide Collection

1967 was a momentous year, packed with more history than some decades: Canada's centennial, the Summer of Love, the Six-Day War, and what has been called the best world's fair ever staged, Montreal's Expo 67. This collection of slides taken by the late Montreal navy veteran and mechanical engineer Meredith F. Dixon, MEng29, is billed as a photographic journey through Expo 67. For those of us of a certain generation, these photos are a portal into the dim recesses of childhood memory, of a time when Montreal felt like the centre of the world and the gateway to the future. Meredith Dixon was not a professional photojournalist. He was just a private citizen with a camera, proud of his city and excited by the sites and scenes of Expo 67. You can feel his excitement in virtually every photo of monorail cars, pavilions and people in retro-futuristic Expo uniforms. This new exhibit at McGill's Digital Library is well worth a visit.

The Feather Book of Dionisio Minaggio

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Birdie num nums

In 1618, Dionisio Minaggio, Chief Gardener of the State of Milan, created his famous Feather Book, an exquisite collection of 157 collages of birds, craftsmen, and classic scenes from the Commedia dell'arte theatre, created almost entirely out of natural, undyed bird feathers, plus beaks, claws and skin. According to McGill librarian Eleanor MacLean, writing in the journal Nuevo Mundo in 2006 (linked from the second URL above) the McGill University Librarian uncovered the treasure in a London bookseller's catalogue in 1923, and purchased it for the university's collection for £175, a pittance even then for a book of such beauty and historical importance. The Feather Book remains in the collection of the Blacker-Wood Library of Biology to this day, and went online as part of McGill's Digital Library Project in the late 1990s.

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Bribery Dept.:

Do you know of any great McGill web gems we haven't covered yet? Send them to Mark Shainblum and you'll receive a free McGill Media Guide gift set (including coffee mug, mousepad and notepad) if we use your suggestion in the column.