The Exhibition

Great library collections are enriched by donations from great individual collectors. McGill Library’s extraordinary strengths in its ornithological collections, palm leaf manuscripts, Kashmiri lacquer book covers and pen boxes, and bible boxes are largely the result of the personal collecting of Dr. Casey A. Wood. Come join us as we uncover the many gems gathered by this avid collector. Born in Wellington, Ontario in 1856, Casey Wood was educated in Ottawa, at Bishop's and McGill Universities and undertook further studies in Berlin, Vienna, Paris and London. He was a widely known ophthalmologist, ornithologist, prolific author, translator, editor and bibliophile. He travelled to many parts of the world including the sub-continent, in particular to Kashmir and Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, and in all the places that he visited he collected materials related to his varied interests.

Items by and about Dr. Wood himself are included in this exhibition, helping you discover more about the man whose research into diseases of the eye and defects of vision developed into an interest in the history of ophthalmology, comparative ophthalmology, the study of the eyesight of birds, birds themselves and a passion for collecting books on these subjects. He published many journal articles on the eye and on birds and he published two important books: An introduction to the literature of vertebrate zoology, based chiefly on the titles in the Blacker Library of Zoology, the Emma Shearer Wood Library of Ornithology, the Bibliotheca Osleriana and other libraries of McGill University, Montreal. Compiled and edited by Casey A. Wood. (London: Oxford University Press, 1931).

The art of falconry, being the De arte venandi cum avibus of Frederick II of Hohenstaufen. Translated and edited by Casey A. Wood & F. Marjorie Fyfe. (Stanford University, Calif.: Stanford University Press ; London: H. Milford, Oxford University Press, 1943)

Among the many items on display are paintings by great wildlife artists including John Gould, John Gerrard Keulemans, Edward Lear, Elizabeth Gwillim, George Edward Lodge, W. J. Belcher and George Morrison Reid Henry. Samuel Pepys' copy of Francis Willughby’s Ornithology, and the original manuscripts of Joseph Banks' "A Journal of a Voyage up Great Britain’s West Coast and to Iceland" are featured, as well as John Burroughs' "The Animal Mind" and both the original drawings and manuscripts from H. Kirke Swann’s "A Monograph of the Birds of Prey (order Accipitres)". Other objects include samples of palm leaf manuscripts, bible boxes and lacquer book covers and writing tools from Kashmir.

Casey Wood maintained his ties to McGill over the years and bestowed many of his magnificent collections on the University. He wrote to Ernest Ingersoll (1852-1946), on July 7, 1924 about his collecting: "For the moment I am engaged in the pleasant task of buying books for the Blacker Library and as that collection already possesses pretty much all the ordinary works and periodicals on the subject, I am prowling about looking for rarities. Within the week, I acquired collections of original drawings by Keulemans, Wolf, Smit and others. So you see, I am having a good time." The Library was indeed fortunate to have this magnanimous donor as a friend.

Special Thanks

Exhibition curated by Eleanor MacLean, Liaison Librarian, Life Sciences Library, McGill University

Special thanks to Dr. Richard Virr (Head of Rare Books and Special Collections and Curator of Manuscripts, McGill University) and to Donald Hogan (Conservation specialist).
We would also like to thank the following library staff for their graciousness. In particular, Ed Bilodeau, Megan Chellew, Greg Houston, and Elizabeth Thomson.