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Featured place: Oliver

Posted on September 17, 2011 @12:17 pm by sromkey

In our ongoing blog series about B.C. places used as room names in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, this week we are featuring the town of Oliver. Oliver describes itself as the “wine capital of Canada” and is located in the south end of the Okanagan Valley. Oliver is named after the 19th premier of B.C., John Oliver, who was premier from 1918 to 1927.

The Oliver region is the home of the Nk’Mip First Nation band, and from 1915 to the 1960’s was the home of the Inkameep Indian Day School. Under the tutelage of teacher Anthony Walsh in the 1930’s and 40’s, the First Nations children at this school were encouraged to use artwork to express their traditional culture and history. During this time the school, the teacher and the students gained a fair degree of fame, as the word spread about their highly creative and often technically proficient artwork. While Walsh’s approach was not necessarily understood or appreciated by his contemporaries (his successor at the school burned most of the students’ art) it has since been praised for its inclusiveness of First Nations culture and heritage.

The documents in Rare Books and Special Collections are part of our Vertical File collection. The term “vertical file” is used in a variety of manners in libraries and archives, usually referring to a file compiled on a specific subject. At RBSC we often use this designation for small groupings of archival material which are two small to be listed with our other archival collections. This vertical file, VF 113, consists of letters written to Anthony Walsh during his tenure at Inkameep. Writers include a number of well-known figures, such as Lawren Harris and the Walt Disney Company:

Lawren Harris letter page 1

Lawren Harris letter page 1

 

Lawren Harris letter page 2

Lawren Harris letter page 2

Walt Disney Company letter

Walt Disney Company letter

Vertical files can be found by searching the library catalogue. They have call numbers that start with “VF,” and will also appear in searches limited to “Archival/mixed collections.”

An excellent virtual exhibition about the Inkameep Day School called “Drawing on Identity” is available online.

In the Barber Centre, the Oliver Room is room 361, and is used by the Gateway programs- Arts One, Science One, Coordinated Arts and Coordinated Science.

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Featured room: Wallace B. Chung and Madeline H. Chung room

Posted on August 23, 2011 @2:07 pm by sromkey

Regarding history, Wallace Chung believes it is important to forgive, but not forget. His collection of rare items based on the Chinese experience in North America helps to keep memories of Chinese history alive, illustrating moments of historical happiness without neglecting to represent the struggles. Divided into three major themes of discovery, immigration and settlement, and the Canadian Pacific Railway, the room explores moments in history such as the Chinese Head Tax and the Fraser River gold rush. The room is filled with a variety of objects including posters, pamphlets, legal documents, and silverware.

A large model of the Empress of Asia sits at the heart of the room, representing one of the ships that brought Chinese immigrants from Asia to North America. In 1919, Dr. Chung’s own mother was one of those immigrants.

Image credit: Empress of Asia, UBC Library

Image credit: Empress of Asia, UBC Library


Collecting these artifacts, Dr. Chung explained, was not as difficult as some people seem to think. Some of the items, including more precious objects such as silverware, actually came to him because they had been discarded, for their historical value had not yet been known. To read more about the items from the collection on exhibition, go to the Chung collection website.

After years of accumulating items, Dr. Chung’s simple hobby of grew into a collection over 25,000 objects. Now, people of all ages are welcome to view them in the Chung Room. The exhibition, located in Rare Books and Special Collections, in the Irving K Barber Learning Centre, is open to the public and free of charge during Rare Books and Special Collections opening hours (Monday through Friday 9-5 year round, Saturday 12 – 5 during the fall and winter semesters). Appointments are not necessary to visit. Please feel free to drop-in and explore the collection at your leisure. For information on group tours and directions to the exhibition please go here.

Thank-you to our guest writer, Eleanor Munk, a student working for the summer in Rare Books and Special Collections, for writing this week’s blog entry!

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Chung Collection Exhibition closure: August 22, 26 and 29

Posted on August 12, 2011 @9:10 am by sromkey

(Cross posted with Chung Collection News):

The Chung Collection Exhibition will be closed to the public on August 22, 26 and 29. We apologize for the inconvenience.

The good news is that the closure is for the completion of a special project- stay tuned in the coming months!

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A voyage of discovery: George Vancouver’s narrative.

Posted on July 28, 2011 @1:29 pm by sromkey

In honour of the City of Vancouver’s 125th birthday, an exhibition highlighting the voyages of George Vancouver and the publication of his voyage narrative is on display at Rare Books and Special Collections.  Featuring a number of late 18th- and early 19th-century editions of George Vancouver’s A Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean, first published in May 1798, the exhibition describes Vancouver’s expedition to the Pacific Northwest on the ships The Discovery and The Chatham.  The exhibition also displays plates and maps from A Voyage of Discovery, including the dramatic “The Discovery on the rocks in Queen Charlotte’s Sound”, shown below.

"Discovery on the rocks"

“Discovery on the rocks”

This exhibition is the first to be displayed in our new exhibition cabinets, located on the back wall in the Chung Collection exhibition room. It is free and open to the general public during Rare Books and Special Collection’s opening hours of Monday to Friday, 9-5, until September 1 (please note that we are closed on Monday August 1 for BC Day).

New exhibition display cases

New exhibition display cases

The exhibition was curated by School of Library, Archival and Information Studies (SLAIS) MAS/MLIS graduate Shamin Malmas, and was mounted by SLAIS MAS/MLIS student Sarah Hillier.

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Featured place: Atlin

Posted on July 14, 2011 @10:51 am by sromkey

Our featured B.C. place for this week is the northern most place we have featured yet: Atlin. The town of Atlin and Atlin Lake are located along Highway 7, not too far south of the border with Yukon. Atlin likes to be called “Switzerland of the North” because of its wintertime beauty and activities. The name Atlin is derived from the Tlingit word atlah which means “big water.”  The town was founded in the late 19th century when gold was struck in the area, drawing thousands of settlers; today the population is around 450 people.

Our featured document is a photograph from our B.C. Historical Photograph Collection. It is an example of the importance of having access to the back (or verso) of some photographs, when they contain helpful inscriptions or stamps. The photograph was probably taken looking across Atlin Lake:

"Rift in the clouds", Atlin B.C.

"Rift in the clouds", Atlin B.C.

The title, “Rift in the clouds,” was inscribed on the back of the photograph, possibly by the photographer. By looking at the back, we can see the stamp of the photographer:

Verso of the photograph

Verso of the photograph

The photographer was L.C. Read, who, according to the Camera Workers of B.C., was active in the Atlin area up until around 1919.

If it were not for the photographer’s stamp on the back of the photograph,  we wouldn’t be able to say who the photographer was, and it would be unlikely that the location could be identified as Atlin.

To learn more about our historical photograph collections, consult our Photographs Research Guide. In the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, the Atlin Meeting Room is number 191, on the first floor.

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Happy Canada Day!

Posted on June 30, 2011 @1:02 pm by sromkey

Or Dominion Day, as it was formerly known. In this photograph from RBSC’s BC Historical Photograph Collection, “Miss Canada” contestants are being driven through North Vancouver, on July 1 1918.

Miss Canada Contest, 1918

Miss Canada Contest, 1918

A reminder that all UBC Library branches (including RBSC, University Archives and the Chung Collection) are closed for Canada Day on July 1st.

For information on our historical photograph collections, check out our Research Guide for Historical Photos.

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Featured place: Muskwa River

Posted on June 28, 2011 @9:52 am by kalsbeek

Interestingly, many of the group study rooms in the Irving K Barber Learning Centre are named after rivers in British Columbia. Room 416, a group study room on the fourth floor of the Barber Centre, is named after the Muskwa River, a river that runs 257 kilometres through northern British Columbia. The Muskwa River, a major tributary of the Fort Nelson River, flows east and north to merge with the Prophet River, before joining the Fort Nelson River.

Using some of the place name resources mentioned in the previous blog post on Keremeos, we are able to trace the different names that have been applied to the Muskwa River throughout the years; the “official” name of the river has changed a number of times since the beginning of the 20th century.

According to BC Geographical Names , on Gotfred Emile Jorgensen’s 1895 Map of the Province of British Columbia, it was labeled the “Sicannie River.” The Sikanni (Sekani) people, “dwellers of the rocks,” traded, hunted and lived near the river for hundreds of years. To read more about the history of the Sekani people of British Columbia, you may wish to read Sekani Indians of British Columbia, by Diamond Jenness.

However, what is now called the Muskwa River was labelled “Sikanni River” on BC Land’s map 1A, 1912 and then, in 1917, labeled the “Musqua River” on BC map 1H. It seems that there is some disagreement as to why the river was finally given the name Muskwa. According to George Philip Vernon and Helen Akrigg’s British Columbia Place Names, Muskwa is the Cree word for “bear.” Described by BC BookWorld as “self publishing pioneers”, the Akriggs first published their “landmark’ 1001 British Columbia Place Names in 1969; many editions followed through the years.

Other researchers believe that since the “custom apparently is for a separate band of the Sikanni Indians to hunt on [one and only one] of these rivers, […] the rivers receive the names of the leaders in each band…..thus Musquah’s River, Prophet’s River, Sikanni Chief’s River and Fantasque’s River” (BC Geographical Names http://archive.ilmb.gov.bc.ca/bcgn-bin/bcg10?name=8364).

Tracing the history of the name of the Muskwa River is a good reminder that one should consult multiple sources when doing research!

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Featured place: Keremeos

Posted on June 15, 2011 @9:20 am by sromkey

It seems appropriate in our blog series about places in British Columbia used as room names in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre to address researching the origin of place names. There are a number of sources that are useful for researching place names, and one here at UBC is the Norman Ogg Place Name Collection (see the finding aid here).  In 1979-1980, Norman Ogg undertook a study of the origins of place names in Canada (excepting Quebec) and Washington State.  He received many letters from town and city clerks and archivists explaining the origin behind their city’s name, as well as a number of ephemeral items such as brochures.

The place we are examining this week is Keremeos.  Keremeos is located in the Southern Interior of British Columbia and is in the Similkameen Valley.  The aboriginal people of this area, the Sylix, are now part of the Okanagan Nation Alliance. Horticulture and agriculture are the main industries in Keremeos, and the area is also home to Cathedral Provincial Park.  As Norman Ogg learned from the clerk of the Village of Keremeos in 1980, there are two theories behind the name Keremeos: it was believed to be derived from the Aboriginal language of the area to mean either “wind channel in the mountains” or “cut in two by water,” referring to the Similkameen River.

Letter to Norman Ogg from clerk of Village of Keremeos

Letter to Norman Ogg from clerk of Village of Keremeos

(Click on the image of the letter to see a larger version).

Other sources for place names in British Columbia include BC Geographical Names (a free online resource), The encyclopedia of raincoast place names by Andrew Scott and many other books available at UBC Library which can be browsed by subject in the catalogue.

The earliest source for B.C. place names was written by Captain John Walbran, captain of the S.S. Quadra. This photograph is from the Chung Collection, which also contains a copy of Walbran’s book British Columbia Coast Names, and one of his chief officer’s logs.

Captain John Walbran, from the Chung Collection

Captain John Walbran, from the Chung Collection

As described by the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Walbran’s Coast Names is “an amazing grab-bag of history, biography, and anecdote,” and a “rich mass of anecdotes and digressions.”  It is a well-known and well-used source of British Columbia history.

In the Barber Centre, the Keremeos Lounge is on the second floor, adjacent to Ike’s Cafe on the south side of the building. A great place to have a cup of coffee and read up on B.C. place names!

Keremeos Lounge, adjacent to Ike's Cafe

Keremeos Lounge, adjacent to Ike's Cafe

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Archival conundrum: unopened mail

Posted on May 25, 2011 @1:15 pm by sromkey

We recently had our friends from Chinese Canadian Stories (CCS) join us to host high school students from Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School for a tour of the Chung Collection and a Mandarin language lesson.  Afterward, the researchers from CCS mentioned they had found an unopened letter in the Wah Shun Company fonds– could we open it and read what was inside?

Usually when we are first processing a new archival collection we will open unopened envelopes unless there is a compelling reason not to do so (for example a privacy concern, in which case the envelope would not be made available to researchers anyway). The thinking behind this practice is that it would be better for the letter to be gently opened by an archivist than to be torn open by a well-meaning but potentially destructive patron.

Since we had cameras on hand to document the collection tour, the CCS researchers also took photos of the letter opening.  We opened it by carefully cutting a very thin slice off the top of the envelope with a pair of scissors.  The letter is in Chinese but thankfully Joanne and Lilly from CCS  were able to read it for us- the letter was written from a Chinese man in Vancouver, to his son in China, explaining that he was going to be sending him some goods and supplies, and also giving him advice on studying hard in school. No one may ever know why the letter wasn’t sent!

Opening the letter from the Wah Shun Company fonds

Opening the letter from the Wah Shun Company fonds

The letter can be found in Box 1 folder 3 of the Wah Shun Company fonds.

The photo is courtesy of the Chinese Canadian Stories project.

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Featured place: Hazelton

Posted on May 17, 2011 @2:27 pm by sromkey

This week our featured place, and Irving K. Barber Learning Centre room name,  is Hazelton.  Hazelton, as well as New Hazelton and South Hazelton, is located near where the Skeena River meets the Bulkley River, northeast of Prince Rupert.  The Hazelton area is the traditional land of the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en First Nations.

The featured document is from the Social Planning and Research Council (SPARC) of British Columbia fonds. SPARC is a non-partisan organization that was founded in 1966 to “work with communities in building a just and healthy society for all” (from the SPARC website). The archives here at RBSC include files from 1966 to 1984 and contain a wealth of information on the history of social issues and programs in B.C., from youth, housing, health, aging, and much more. One such file is on the Hazelton Children’s Home.  Founded by the United Church in 1967, the Hazelton Children’s Home appears to have run at least into the 1980’s.  It is described in the file as “an extended care facility for mentally and physically handicapped children.” The files contain a request for funding written to the Skeena Health Unit in 1978.  Information about the home is now scarce- the SPARC files as well as files at the Bob Stewart United Church Archives appear to be two of few sources.

Document from SPARC fonds

Document from SPARC fonds

A finding aid for the SPARC fonds is available, and if you are new to archival research, we recommend our Archival Materials Research Guide.

In the Barber Centre, the Hazelton Classroom is on the fourth floor in the south end of the building.

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