Title and statement of responsibility area
Gabriel Gély fonds
General material designation
- Multiple media
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Title statements of responsibility
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Edition statement of responsibility
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Statement of scale (cartographic)
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Statement of scale (architectural)
Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)
Dates of creation area
- Gély, Gabriel
Physical description area
0.66 m including 671 slides, approx. 2125 negatives, 125 proofs, 597 photographs, 1 article, 5 USB drives, 91 documents, 12 books, 79 pages, 18 newspaper clippings.
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Archival description area
Name of creator
Gabriel Gély was an artist and photographer. His artistic subjects primarily are Inuit and Inuit communities. Gély also played a pioneering role as a government advisor and promotor of Inuit art.
Gély was born in Paris, France on May 20, 1924. From 1942 to 1945, he was active in the French underground. After the war, in the late 1940s, Gély became fascinated with the Canadian Arctic and Inuit artefacts and, in 1952, he travelled to Canada to pursue this interest. By 1953, he was working for the Department of Transport (DOT) as a cook in Kanngiqtugaapik (Clyde River), Baffin Island.
From 1956 to 1960, Gély worked in several locations in southern Canada and the US for camera stores and photography companies. He then took a position with the National Museum in Ottawa as a museologist for their Arctic materials. From 1963 to 1988, Gély worked in various positions in northern communities in close relationship with Inuit.
Gély began painting as a self-taught artist while still living in France. He continued his artistic practice in Canada and became known for his portrayals of northern peoples. Gély's artwork can be found in private and government collections such as the Glenbow Foundation, the Imperial Oil Collection, the governments of Canada and the Northwest Territories, the Mendel Gallery in Saskatoon, the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre in Yellowknife, and the Nunavut Legislative Building in Iqaluit and it has been shown in galleries in the North and across Canada.
While a youth in France, Gély purchased his first camera. During his time in Canada, Gély owned several other cameras. He took hundreds of photographs of Inuit documenting their daily lives and learned to develop the film himself. His photographic collection spans over 30 years from 1954 to 1987 and records life in many northern communities.
Gély died at his home in Selkirk, Manitoba on November 27, 2020.
The collection was sold by Gabriel Gély to Susan Howe and Kathryn Knowles in 2014.
Scope and content
This fonds consists of graphic material and textual records from Gabriel Gély documenting his life, particularly his time in northern Canada.
Immediate source of acquisition
Language of material
Script of material
Location of originals
Availability of other formats
Restrictions on access
The file relating to housing records is restricted from access (Box 1, folder 25). Please consult an university archivist for further information.
Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication
The University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections holds the copyright for Gabriel Gély photographs. For copyright questions regarding his artwork please contact the archives for more information.
A finding aid can be downloaded by clicking on the “Download’ link under “Finding Aid” on the right hand side of the screen.
Generated finding aid
No further accruals are expected.
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Dates of creation, revision and deletion
Finding aid created by Kara Suderman (March 2019). Revised by N. Courrier (April 2019).
Language of description
Script of description
Darrell Greer, "Vast photo collection depicts life in Nunavut from the 1950s-’80s" Kivalliq News, Northern News Services Limited, October 14, 2020: https://nnsl.com/kivalliq-news/vast-photo-collection-depicts-life-in-nunavut-from-the-1950s-80s/