Len & Cub: A Queer History

Cub with his arm around Len at the Cranberry Lake Camp, Queens County, NB, c.1916-18. Collection of the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick. PANB P27-MS101-140

In the AX Gallery from October 8 – November 28, 2022.

Exhibition Launch: Saturday, October 8, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

On October 8, at 2:00 p.m., join us at AX as we welcome Len & Cub: A Queer History to the gallery. This photography exhibition features the footage of Leonard “Len” Keith (1891-1950) and Joseph “Cub” Coates (1899-1965), two young men living in the rural village of Havelock, New Brunswick, who formed a relationship during the early 20th century.

While keeping their sexual identities and attraction for each other hidden, they privately captured their relationship via photographs – one of the oldest surviving photographic records of a same-sex couple in the Maritimes. These remarkable archival images are as important socially and historically as they are unique in the photographic canon of eastern Canada.   

The curators of this exhibition, Meredith J. Batt and Dusty Green, have also written a book featuring the photographs in the exhibition. With the support of the Government of New Brunswick, the launch and book reading takes place in the Ax Galley on October 8, 2:00 p.m.

We acknowledge the support of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery for providing the exhibition. Thanks to the New Brunswick Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture.

 

 


About the Artist

Len was an amateur photographer and automobile enthusiast who went on to own a local garage and pool hall after serving in the First World War. Cub was also a veteran, farmer, butcher, contractor, and lover of horses. Their time together is documented by Len’s photos, which show that the two shared a mutual love of the outdoors, animals, and adventure. Photographs of Len and Cub on hunting and canoe trips with arms around each other’s shoulders or in bed together make clear the affection they held for each other. 

The images also underscore the era’s stylistic and technical change from formal studio portraiture to more candid, animated, and “real” photos, as personal portable cameras with timers became readily available during the early 20th century.  

Although Len was outed and forced to leave Havelock in 1931, the story of Len and Cub is one of love and friendship that challenges our contemporary ideas about sexuality in early 20th century Canada.  

 

Curated by Dusty Green and Meredith J. Batt, and organized by the Beaverbrook Art Gallery and the Queer Heritage Initiative New Brunswick (QHINB). 


Acknowledgements

We acknowledge the support of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery for providing the exhibition. Thanks to the New Brunswick Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture.