Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Alonzo Barnard (1817-1905)

Cleric, photographer.

Born at Peru, Vermont on 2 June 1817, he trained as a missionary at Oberlin College in Ohio, graduating in 1843 and being presented with a printing press for use in his mission work. That same year, he married classmate Sarah Philena Babcock at Rochester, Ohio. For the next ten years, he was a missionary to Aboriginal peoples in present-day Minnesota and North Dakota. In 1848, he delivered the first Protestant church service at Pembina [now in North Dakota, near the Canada-US border]. His wife, with whom he had had two children, died at Walhalla of tuberculosis in October 1853 and Barnard remarried the next year, to Mary McDonald of Pittsfield, Ohio.

By Fall 1854 Barnard and his family had moved to the Red River Settlement and taken up residence in a building formerly occupied by Henry Hallett, where Barnard also established a photography studio, the Red River Portrait Gallery. His wife gave birth to a daughter while residing at Red River. Barnard’s printing press, the first in the Settlement, was later sold to J. C. Schultz. It was the press upon which the New Nation, the newspaper of Louis Riel’s provisional government of 1870, was later printed.

Barnard left the settlement for a period in mid-1860, returning in September to reopen his studio, in partnership with a man known only as Patton. His last known advertisement for photographic work was in December 1860, after which it appears that the family returned to the US around 1863, residing for a time at Benzonia, Michigan and living at Red Lake, Minnesota by 1871.

He died at Pomona, Michigan on 14 April 1905, at the home of his son Dr. James Barnard. Some papers relating to his activities in Manitoba are held by the Archives of Manitoba, excerpts of which have been published by the Manitoba Historical Society.

His articles for the Manitoba Historical Society:

On the Trail in the Forties, Part 1
Manitoba Pageant, Volume 5, Number 3, April 1960

On the Trail in the Forties, Part 2
Manitoba Pageant, Volume 6, Number 2, January 1961


Barnard family genealogy,

“Births”, The Nor’Wester, 14 January 1860.

“The Red River Portrait Gallery”, The Nor’Wester, 28 February 1860, page 2.

Advertisement, The Nor’Wester, 1 December 1860, page 2.

Among the Sioux: A Story of the Twin Cities and the Two Dakotas by R. J. Creswell, University of Minnesota Press, 1906.

“Forty-five years ago—July 4, 1888”, Winnipeg Free Press, 5 July 1933, page 1.

“The printing press moves westward”, Minnesota History, Volume 15, Number 1, March 1934.

“Memories of printing”, Winnipeg Free Press, 12 May 1934, page 12.

Pioneer Photographers from the Mississippi to the Continental Divide: A Biographical Dictionary, 1839-1865 by Peter Palmquist and Thomas Kailbourn, Stanford University Press, 2005.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 29 October 2009

Memorable Manitobans

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