The American nature photographer Lorene Squire (1908–1942) longed to visit Canada’s North, where the wildfowl of her birthplace, Kansas, spent their summers. In 1937, Squire got her wish. During the summer of that year and into the fall, Squire travelled to various wetlands in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta to photograph the waterfowl that were her passion. The first of three trips that Squire would take into the North, this voyage would propel her photographs onto the pages of leading publications including, Country Life, The New York Times, The Saturday Evening Post, LIFE, and the Hudson’s Bay Company’s magazine The Beaver. Squire’s 1937 trip would also inform her only published book, a written account of her photographic journey from a local pond in Harper, Kansas, where she began her career, to the vast marshlands of the Northern Prairies. The story of her travels is punctuated with descriptions of the wildfowl she encountered and the many photographic challenges she faced trying to picture “the life story of wild ducks”.
In Wildfowling with a Camera (1938), Squire writes at length about her wish to witness for herself the vast and wild breeding grounds of North American waterfowl. Squire grandly imagines the northern marshes of Canada as an aqueous promised land where she “would find wide green stretches of marshland and a great many number of ducks, all to be photographed with no effort or trouble.” Squire’s pleasure in tromping through wetlands and stalking her feathered prey from land and water is strongly articulated in both her written prose and in the photographs reproduced. Left unmentioned in her book are the roles that groups like the American Wildlife Institute and the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), particularly its public relations department and its visual arm The Beaver, played in sponsoring the photographic adventurer into the Northland.