Arresting Images

What is Arresting Images?

  • Arresting Images is an award-winning travelling exhibition that started its travels in 2009 - the 100th anniversary year of the Ontario Provincial Police. Since that time, it has been hosted by museums and galleries across Ontario to resounding success.
  • Arresting Images features 100 mug shots (1886 - 1908) from The OPP Museum’s collection. These images are reproduced and presented at their actual size so both the photographs on the front of the mug shot, and the descriptions of the suspect on the back, are displayed.
  • Arresting Images includes the two earliest known mug shots (1886) in a public collection, in Canada.
  • Arresting Images documents a unique historic encounter between the police of the time (the Niagara Ontario Police – forebears to the present-day Ontario Provincial Police) and suspects and criminals of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • Arresting Images provides a unique perspective on the social history of Ontario in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the practices of early policing in Ontario. The exhibition highlights historical themes and social circumstances that provide a backdrop to the stories of the individuals featured in the exhibition. The emerging use of photographic portraits as a police identification tool is also explored.
  • Arresting Images offers hosting institutions fun and fascinating children’s activity programming options.
  • Arresting Images is a bilingual exhibition, presented in English and French.

Arresting Images was generously sponsored by the OPP Commissioned Officers' Association and supported by the Museum Assistance Program, Department of Canadian Heritage.

Quick Facts about the Exhibition

  • Arresting Images shares with the public a rare collection of historical photographic portraits from The OPP Museum’s permanent collection.
  • This travelling exhibition consists of 100 reproductions of criminal photo cards (mug shots), dating from 1886 to 1908, and an exhibit catalogue containing the details for each portrait and a discussion of themes being explored.
  • Mug shots are records that contain sensitive personal information. Each photograph is more than 100 years old. In each case, legal right of access was assessed.
  • Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy legislation and provincial archival guidelines were meticulously followed.
  • The curatorial selection of the featured photographs was a lengthy, methodical process. Each individual’s story was approached with care and within the context of historical inquiry.
  • The portraits selected for the exhibition represent a cross section of age, gender, ethnicity, religious, and socio-economic backgrounds of individuals featured in the historic collection. The exhibition’s standards for research, design, publication and marketing reflect a clear commitment to the integrity of the historical record.
  • The primary interpretive focus of Arresting Images is the collection of photographic portraits, both for what they reveal as images, and for what they tell us as historic documents.

Photo Gallery

Award Winning!

In October of 2009, the Ontario Museum Association presented The OPP Museum an Award of Excellence for Arresting Images a travelling exhibition that has made an outstanding contribution to the Ontario museum community.

Where can I see the exhibit?

December 2015 – May 2016
Welland Historical Museum
Welland, ON

June 2016 – December 2016
Lennox & Addington County Museum & Archives
Napanee, ON

January 2017 – March 2017
Peterborough Museum & Archives
Peterborough, ON

Past Venues

September 2015 – December 2015
Scugog Shores Museums - Port Perry, ON

June 2015 – September 2015
Dufferin County Museum & Archives - Mulmer, ON

February 2015 – June 2015
Olde Gaol Museum - Lindsay, ON

November 6, 2014 - January 2015
The John M. Parrott Art Galler - Belleville, ON

February - May 2014
City of Waterloo Museum - Waterloo, ON

May 8 - August 31, 2013
Kamloops Museum & Archives - Kamloops, BC

January 7 - March 31, 2013
RCMP Heritage Centre - Regina, SK

October 10 - November 15, 2012
Lake of the Woods Museum - Kenora, ON

June 11 - September 2, 2012
Thunder Bay Museum - Thunder Bay, ON

January 17, 2012 - March 24, 2012
Durham Gallery, Sault Ste. Marie Museum - Sault Ste. Marie, ON

October 22 - December 9, 2011
Helen McClung Gallery, Archives of Ontario - Toronto, ON

April 2 – May 19, 2011
Aurora Historical Society - Aurora, ON

January 17 March 25, 2011
Stratford Perth Museum - Stratford, ON

September 18, 2010 January 3, 2011
Canada Science and Technology Museum - Ottawa, ON

June 5 September 12, 2010
Museum London - London, ON

April 12 May 23, 2010
Brockville Museum - Brockville, ON

February 27 April 5, 2010
Wellington County Museum - Fergus, ON

January 9 February 21, 2010
The Station Gallery - Whitby, ON

October 8 December 20, 2009
Guelph Civic Museum - Guelph, ON

July 19 September 14, 2009
Simcoe County Museum - Minesing, ON

May 31 July 12, 2009
Art Gallery of Peel - Brampton, ON


If you are interested in booking Arresting Images for your museum or facility, please download the travelling exhibition essentials PDF document. For specific booking information, please contact Chris Johnstone at (705) 329-6889 or email the museum.