Charles Berkeley Powell was born in Port Dover, Ontario, in 1858. He was a prominent figure in Ottawa politics, commerce and culture, being a notable businessman, member of the Ontario Legislature as a Conservative MPP, and son of a famous Colonel. His mother, Mary Ursule (nee Bowlby), was the second wife of Colonel Walker Powell who served as a member of parliament, and was adjutant general for the Canadian militia from 1875 to 1895. For around 15 years, Walker Powell was the only staff officer at militia headquarters and was a talented administrator. He was credited with having great influence on the founding of the Royal Military College at Kingston, and was one of the few high-ranking, Canadian-born officials in the military at the time.
Charles Berkeley was his eldest son. After a collegiate education, Charles Berkeley attended university at McGill, and became a mechanical engineer. After graduating, he worked for several railroads, including the Grand Trunk Pacific, California Southern Railway, and Old Colonial Railway, Boston, where he served as mechanical Superintendent. In 1884 he married Helen Louise Pattee, with whom he had two daughters. Upon his return to Canada, Powell worked for his wife's family business, Perley & Pattee, Lumber Manufacturers of Ottawa, which was run under the auspices of Gordon Pattee, who quickly made Charles Berkeley a partner.
From 1884 until 1898, Powell was heavily involved in Ottawa life, and cultivated his political connections at the Rideau Club, where his father was president. He also entered the volunteer militia, and served as Captain and Paymaster of the Governor General's Foot Guards, until he retired in 1893. In 1898 he was elected to the Ontario Legislature, in which he served until 1904.
While in Toronto, the Powells were welcomed into society. The Toronto Globe reported that Charles Berkeley made the Albany Club his home, and that his wife, Helen Louise, was called upon by social notables. During his legislative career, Powell was a moderate, like his father, and a staunch federalist. On March 21st, 1899, he delivered a speech to the Ontario Legislature on senate reform, as the question arose in provincial parliament. Powell was concerned that any changes proposed by Wilfrid Laurier's government would greatly upset the current balance of power. Being a savvy politician, Powell was sensitive to French-Canadian interests in his riding, and also felt that changing the government's legislative structure "would leave the Senate without power to check any injudicious or wrongful legislation" put forth by the House of Commons.
Throughout his tenure in provincial parliament, Powell was also interested in health reform, and sat on a number of committees that dealt with effective sewage and waste management. he was also a member of the Canadian Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis. In 1900, due to health issues of his own, the Globe reported that Powell would be forced to miss the February-March sittings. Powell, the newspaper reported, had been stricken with "an affliction of the eyes" and "on the advice of his physicians, he will sail immediately for England in the hope that he will benefit from a sea voyage".
The Powell Scrapbooks and other material of Canadian interest, were donated to the National Archives in 1933 (the year he died), and demonstrate that he did indeed regain his vision in some capacity. In total, the six volumes of the Scrapbooks contain around 450 illustrations, photographs, stamps, seals, letters and maps all relating to the Canadian militia, Canadian history, and political life. Powell was a lifelong amateur collector who loosely organized his albums, enjoyed colouring them by hand, and clearly procured documents and photographs as a result of his many political connections to influential Canadian and their families. Among them was his friend Arthur Doughty, the Dominion Archivist, with whom he was on good terms for many years. In addition to the 6 albums, Powell also donated a number of illustrated books, photo albums, and single items, including miscellaneous photographs and prints.
Powell was particularly interested in the small details of the militia, and amassed dozens of documents relating to the exact components of military uniforms. The albums are filled with running commentaries on which regiment wore what, and when. Powell was also interested in large-scale military events and historical personalities, and was keen on monitoring how such people and places were commemorated in the writing of Canadian history. For example, Powell traced the creation of a number of monuments, from those in tribute to Wolfe and Montcalm to plaques and obelisks in memory of soldiers who fell during the North West Rebellion of 1885.
When considering the visual and textual narrative created in the fonds overall, Powell's version of history is quite clear: they commemorate the successes and conquests of the British Dominion of Canada. Album 4 for example, celebrates the uncompromising victory of Canadian troops over the 'insurrection' mounted by Louis Riel. Powell wrote that "the situation is not serious from a military standpoint. Canada must crush the rebellion and see that peace and order prevails in the territories" (Album IV, page 12). Powell was also fond of allegorical scenes that represented the strength of the Canadian militia. His many comments and collected works reveal that although business and politics were his daily occupations, his private interests lay in contextualizing his place and familial lineage within Canadian history., The fonds is made up of a variety of material. The bulk of the fonds consists of 7 scrapbooks. These include the following:
C.B. Powell Scrapbook 1 (PIC acc. no. 1933-325): collected works illustrating historical events from 1745-1881.
C. B. Powell Scrapbook 2 (PIC acc. no. 1933-236): military readiness and training, historical events, commanding officers, 1867-1892.
C.B. Powell Scrapbook 3 (PIC acc. no. 1933-237): historical events, military readiness and training of the Eastern and Western militias, uniforms and accoutrements, 1890-1905.
C.B. Powell Scrapbook 4 (PIC acc. no. 1933-242): events, units and issues relating to the North West Rebellion, 1883-1888.
C.B. Powell Scrapbook 5 (PIC acc. no. 1933-242): Military issues, old forts, historic landscapes and military personalities, 1760-1903.
Bytown & Ottawa Album (PIC acc. no. 1933-226): items relating to the early history of Bytown and Ottawa, 1790-1920.
Scrapbook. World's Columbian Exposition, 1893 (PIC acc. no. 1933-225)
Art Scrapbook. Photographs of Quebec House, Westerham Kent (PIC acc. no. 1933-229)
In addition Powell donated a number of photo albums and illustrated books, as follows:
Ottawa Illustrated or W.H. Carré: Art Work on Ottawa, 1898 (PIC acc. no. 1933-223)
The Royal Visit to Ottawa Sept. 20-24, 1901 (PIC acc. no. 1933-224)
Hunter's Ottawa Scenery, Canada West (PIC acc. no. 1933-227). 2 copies.
One Hundred Crowned Masterpieces of Modern Painting. 2 vols. (PIC acc. no. 1933-230)
The North American Indians by George Catlin (London, 1844). 2 vols. (PIC acc. no. 1933-233)
The Coronation of Edward VII (PIC acc. no. 1933-113)
The Transvaal War (PIC acc. no. 1933-112)
The Coronation of King George and Queen Mary (PIC acc. no. 1933-114)
Souvenir Album of Canadian Statesmen 1890 (PIC acc. no. 1933-221)
Souvenir number of Illustrated War News: History of Riel's Second Rebellion, Parts I and II (DAP acc. no. 1997-476-152)
Several donated books, although assigned an accession number, are currently unlocated, including:
The Art Journal. 2 volumes. (PIC acc. no. 1933-222)
A Song of the English. Kipling (PIC acc. no. 1933-228)
The Power of the Dog. (PIC acc. no. 1933-231)
Men of Canada, 1901-02. (PIC acc. no. 1933-232)
Illustrated London News Record of Queen Victoria's reign. (PIC acc. no. 1933-111 - located)
Powell also donated at least 31 photos, not all of which are located. These include the following:
Parliament Buildings. Ottawa at the Festival of Empire, 1911 (NPC acc. no 1964-144, c-000024)
Night View of the Buildings. Ottawa at the Festival of Empire, 1911 (NPC acc. no. 1964-144, no negative no.)
Canadian Pavilion. Ottawa at the Festival of Empire, 1911 (NPC acc. no. 1964-144, C-000023)
Perley and Pattees Saw Mill at the Chaudiere Falls (NPC acc. no. 1964-144, C-000020)
Portrait of Berkely Powell (PIC acc. no. 1935-086)
Group portrait including Sir George Perley (PIC acc. no. 1935-087)
Portraits of the Earl of Minto, Major Hulton, and Captain Eric Steatfield, A.D.C. (PIC acc. no. 1933-220)
Lumber Arch, Union Square, 1860 (NPC acc. no. 1964-144, C-000011 and C-000012)
The Country Club, Ottawa, 1917 and the Country Club, Ottawa, 1915 (both unlocated)
Duke of Connaught (NPC acc. no. 1964-144, C-000059)
Duchess of Connaught, 1913 (unlocated)
Duke of Connaught, 1914 (unlocated)
Sir John A. Macdonald (unlocated)
Col. Walker Powell (unlocated)
Earl Grey (unlocated)
H.R.H. Prince Arthur running the slides, 1906 (NPC acc. no. 1964-144, C-000037)
Countess Grey (unlocated)
Duchess of Devonshire (NPC acc. no. 1969-001, C-019278)
Duke of Devonshire (NPC acc. no. 1964-144, C-001013)
Earl Grey (NPC acc. no. 1964-144, C-017372)
Marchioness of Lansdowne, 1888 (PIC acc. no. 1933-214)
Marquis of Dufferin, ca. 1880 (PIC acc. no. 1933-215)
Lord Lisgar (PIC acc. no. 1933-216)
Captain Eric Streatfield (PIC acc. no. 1933-217)
Marquis of Lorne (PIC acc. no. 1933-218)
Finally he donated at least 24 works of art, either watercolours, drawings, or prints, as follows:
Wellington Street near Bank Street, 1853. Watercolour by C. Sedley (acc. no. 1992-675-2X, C-001548)
Chaudiere Falls and Hull. Watercolour by C. Sedley (acc. no. 1992-675-1X, C-001547)
Ottawa City, C.W., 1855. Print by Magnus, New York (acc. no. 1986-49-1)
Chaudiere Falls, Ottawa River. Hand-drawn copy of a lithograph by C. Ingrey (acc. no. 1996-178X).
Bytown 1838. Watercolour by Charles John, Viscount Colville of Culross (acc. no. 1993-327-2)
Ottawa, 1874. Watercolour by Charles John, Viscount Colville of Culross (acc. no. 1993-327-1)
Ottawa City, 1854. Upper Town looking west. Lithograph by Edwin Whitefield (C-000601)
Ottawa City, 1854. Sussex and Rideau Streets from Barrack Hill. Lithograph by Edwin Whitefield (C-000600)
Exchange Hotel, 1846. N.W. corner of Lyon and Sparks Streets. Lithograph (unaccessioned, C-000113)
Rideau Canal Locks, Bytown, 1845. watercolour by W.T.N. (unaccessioned, C-011262)
Falls of the Grande Chaudiere on the Outaouais. Aquatint by George Heriot (acc. no. 1989-480-28)
Whitefield's Ottawa. Upper Town (acc. no. 1932-478)
Whitefield's Ottawa, Lower Town (acc. no. 1932-475)
View of Ottawa. Lithograph by Stent & Laver. (unaccessioned, C-002813)
Bytown above the Chaudiere, Ottawa River. Wash drawing by John Burrowes (acc. no. 1992-574-1, C-001287)
Chaudiere Falls. Wash drawing by W.H. Bartlett (acc. no. 1992-543-1, C-016553)
Chaudiere Falls. Engraving by W.H. Bartlett (acc. no. 1992-556-7; C-002322)
Death of General Wolfe. Engraving (possibly C-012248)
The Volunteers' Return. Col. lithograph, published by the Illustrated War News (unlocated)
Battle of Fish Creek. Col. Lithograph (possibly C-002425)
Battle of Cut Knife Creek. Col. Lithograph (possibly C-002426)
Capture of Batoche. Col. Lithograph (possibly C-002424)
Major-General Middleton, C.B., Adjutant-General Walker Powell, and various commanding officers of the north-west field force. Col. Lithograph (possibly C-005550)
The Canadian Militia, 1898. Lithograph. (PIC acc. no. 1933-219)