Road Trip: Revisited

In Film, Inspiration, Travel
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When I came across this story I just loved it so much and I couldn’t wait to share it with all of you. Starting earlier this month the Library and Archives Canada has been publishing (on Flickr and Facebook) a serialized tale of a cross-Canada road trip taken by four girlfriends in 1954. Documented in photos and diary entries by freelance photographer Rosemary Gilliat the series is an absolute treat. From Library and Archives Canada,

On July 31, 1954… Rosemary Gilliat and her girlfriends, Anna Brown, Audrey James and Helen Salkeld, packed up Helen’s Plymouth station wagon and began their 12,391-kilometre road trip across Canada.

Packed to the hilt with their tents, camping equipment and cooking utensils, they left Ottawa, Ontario, and headed west on the Trans-Canada Highway, bound for Vancouver, British Columbia. During the next 38 days, they crossed five provinces and four states, travelling through Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Washington, Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota, and returning to Ottawa on September 6.

Despite the growing popularity of campgrounds in the 1950s, these women preferred an untamed wilderness experience. On most nights, they pitched their tents in secluded areas off the highway.

I’ve been poring over these photos all morning. They just draw you in and they’re inspiring more than a bit of road trip wanderlust for me. Here are a few of my favourites.

Supper by deserted gold mine buildings, possibly near Geraldton, Ontario / Souper près d'un bâtiment d'exploitation aurifère abandonné, peut-être près de Geraldton (Ontario)

“A grassy clearing, tall spruce and fir trees and it was wild and the sun shining. So we camped here” – Rosemary Gilliat via Library and Archives Canada

Anna Brown, Helen Salkeld, Audrey James and Rosemary Gilliat below an ore dock, Port Arthur, Ontario / Anna Brown, Helen Salkeld, Audrey James et Rosemary Gilliat sous un quai minéralier, Port Arthur (Ontario)     Audrey James standing on the hood of Helen Salkeld's station wagon taking a photograph of the prairies... / Audrey James debout sur le capot de la voiture familiale de Helen Salkeld prennant une photo des Prairies...
Anna Brown getting dressed at a campsite, [vicinity of Qu'Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan?] / Anna Brown en train de s'habiller sur un site de camping dans la vallée Qu'Appelle, en Saskatchewan?    Makeshift bath in Prairies. Audrey James washing up, Portage-la-Prairie, Manitoba / Bain improvisé, Prairies. Audrey James en train de se laver, Portage-la-Prairie (Manitoba)Again, I encourage you to check out the whole series here or here. They’re publishing daily until September 6th.

Who wants to hit the road with me?



  1. Oh the joys of youth and adventure…it looks tempting.

  2. Oh I am totally IN. Let’s go! I’ll need more 3000B B&W pack film for my Polaroid!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing these! What a grand adventure.

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