Fonds THMA-9 - John Russell Armer Fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

John Russell Armer Fonds

General material designation

  • Graphic material
  • Textual record

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1889-1983 (Creation)
    Armer, John Russell

Physical description area

Physical description

1 cm textual records, 22,540 slides, 26 trip books & 3 scrapbooks, 2 comment books, 101 artworks, 17 mini-albums, 36 books, 9 technical drawings, and other material.

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

b. May 24th 1884 on his father's farm, Grey [or Bruce?] County, ON. Worked in Grand Trunk Pacific Railway drafting office in Montreal beginning 1902 as a machinist apprentice. Became supervisor of the apprentice classes in Toronto, 1905. In 1910 he was Chief Draughtsman with Grant Trunk Western at Battle Creek, Michigan. In 1912 he transferred to the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway as Chief Draughtsman, Mechanical Department in Winnipeg. Worked at CNR Transcona until retirement in 1949. Married Jennie May Henderson. Travelled extensively and kept up lifelong hobbies of photography, painting, and history. d. 18 October 1983.

Note: biographical data extracted from obituary. Many other materials such as oral history interview tapes, interview summary, and copies of diaries are available in THMA research file. Biographical and family information also available in archival documents.

Custodial history

Part of the John Russell Armer fonds (TH84.17) was donated after his death by his niece Margaret C. Walker of Montreal. The collection was delivered to THMA on behalf of the source by Mr. Harold Wakeman who lives in the former Armer house and who also owns furniture and other Armer memorabilia

Scope and content

his fonds consists of a large collection of material related to Armer’s travels, including 22,540 slides, tour books, art works and scrapbooks. Also included is a diary, family trees, railway technical drawings, railway correspondence and Armer’s personal library books.

The textual material consists of five series as follows.

Trip Series consists of 22,540 slides, tour books, comment books, scrapbooks, and index books for some of the tour books. Artwork featured in slides consists of approximately 822 slides or 4% of the slide collection. Transcona related slides number to approximately 511 slides or 2% of the collection.

Artworks Series consists of originals or photographs of original watercolours. Mainly subjects relate to Armer’s travels. Approximately 5% - 10% original art.

Correspondence Series consists of letters between the Canadian Locomotive and Engine Company and the Northern Pacific and Manitoba Railway Company regarding the purchase of a locomotive.

Armer Family History Series consists of a copy of Armer’s diary and Fraser and Henderson family trees.

Books Series consists of Armer’s personal library. Many of these books contain notes and photographs entered by Armer.

The graphic material consists of two series as follows.

Photograph Series: 1928, 1 photograph : b&w print; 25.3 X 15.2 cm on mount 35.5 X 25.3 cm: consists of group portrait of men and boys who were Motive Power Department apprentices at Transcona CNR.

Technical Drawing Series consists of drawings of locomotives from the Canadian National Railways, the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway and the Intercolonial Railway.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Supplied title based on the creator of accessions TH68.4, TH76.53, TH83.5, and TH84.17, Mr. J.R. Armer.


Language of material

  • English

Script of material

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Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Photograph copyright expired. Copyright for slides latest extant to 2030. Subject to copyright laws.

Finding aids

Textual Material and Map Series: File List Available.

A handwritten copy prepared by Museum staff provides a table of contents for the scrapbooks and the comment books. A second handwritten finding aid has been prepared which lists the subjects for each group of slides.

John Russell Armer has completed several finding aids for his own collection (TH84.17 only). Some of the information is not relevant since the organization of the collection has changed since it was in Armer's possession. Guides to how the finding aid is used are available.

Visual Finding Aid categories: Railway - CNR - Staff. Item List available.

Associated materials

mechanics square. Also other collections Joan and Jack Robb, Carol Cox, and Fraser Henderson. These collections contain information mainly about Armer's wife's family.

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Created by A. Horejda June 19, 2018

Language of description

  • English

Script of description


Biographical Sketch, Custodial History, scope and content, Notes, Finding Aids, Associated Materials

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