Read the diary of Hector Langevin online

We often tell people that we started the digitization of the Chung Collection in 2008, but strictly speaking, that’s not true.  There was actually a very modest start to our digitization activities in 2004, when we digitized the diary of Hector Langevin.

The Langevin diary is one of the highlights of the collection. It describes Langevin’s journey across the United States by rail, and up to the B.C. coast by boat, on his journey to scope out the appropriate place to end the Canadian Pacific Railway. Ultimately of course Vancouver was chosen as the terminus, and in this diary you can come to understand the reasons why Langevin, as Minister of Public Works, recommended a site on Burrard Inlet instead of the former front-runner, Port Moody.

Naturally, Langevin also describes his travels along the way to B.C., including a description of Chinatown in San Francisco, and in B.C. he describes the climate, natural resources, existing nations of indigenous peoples, their treaties and Chinook “trading language”, potential for settlement, business activity, public works required, postal, communication, and transportation arrangements, as well as potential railway termini on Burrard Inlet, Esquimalt, and the Skeena River.

There are three ways to access the Langevin diary:

1. See digital versions of the diary pages here:

2. Read an English language transcription here:

3. Read a French language transcription here:

The Langevin diary is on display in the Chung Collection exhibition room, Case 6.

Image of Hector Langevin above is courtesy of Library and Archives Canada, via the Wikimedia commons.