Table of contents

Foreword / Marcia Crosby

Places Painted by Emily Carr

Part 1: Contexts for a Colonial Artist

1 The Legendary Emily Carr

2 Drawing and Insubordination

3 Missionary in Reverse

4 Among Ethnographers and Indian Agents

Part 2: A Pictorial Record of Native Villages and Totem Poles, 1899-1913

5 They Named Me Klee Wyck

6 The Despised and Joyous Way of Painting

7 Old Mythological Legends: Gitxsan Villages in 1912

8 A Great Dignity: Haida Gwaii in 1912

9 Unchanged by Fashion and Civilization: Kwakwaka’wakw Villages in 1912

10 The Largest Collection Yet Made: Carr’s 1913 Exhibition in Vancouver and Its Aftermath

Part 3: Homesick for Indian

11 Out of the Wilderness and into the National Gallery

12 What They Are Trying to Forget: Sketching Trips from 1928

13 The Big Thing That Means Canada Herself

14 Retrospect

Notes; Bibliographic; Essay; Index

This beautiful volume depicts Emily Carr’s fascination with the First Nations peoples of the Northwest Coast.


Unsettling Encounters radically re-examines Emily Carr’s achievement in representing Native life on the Northwest Coast in her painting and writing. By reconstructing a neglected body of Carr’s work that was central in shaping her vision and career, it makes possible a new assessment of her significance as a leading figure in early-twentieth-century North American modernism. Gerta Moray vividly recreates the rapidly changing historical and social circumstances in which the artist painted and wrote. Carr lived and worked in British Columbia at a time when the growing settler population was rapidly taking over and developing the land and its resources. Moray argues that Carr’s work takes on its full significance only when it is seen as a conscious intervention in Native-settler relations. She examines the work in the context of images of Native peoples then being constructed by missionaries and anthropologists and exploited by promoters of world’s fairs and museums.


  • Winner, Clio Award (British Columbia), Canadian Historical Association 2007


Unsettling Encounters is the most unified, offering an exhaustive narrative of Carr’s engagement with painting village scenes and the arts of the totem poles from the first decade of the 20th century until the mid 1930s.

- Clint Burnham

Moray…has written a fascinating and well-researched history on Canadian artist Emily Carr’s expeditions to witness and document native art in British Columbia. More than a history, Moray makes a forceful argument for Carr’s conscious attempt to represent Native art in a manner consistent with Native life and belief, in part as a critique of non-Native national and religious policies. The text is well illustrated with many period photos, the paintings of other artist, and Carr’s own drawings and watercolors…making this a splendid and full resource.

- Reference and Research Book News