What’s That Number?

Posted on May 14, 2024 @4:57 pm by claire malek

Many thanks to guest blogger Lily Liu for contributing the below post! Lily is a graduate student at the UBC School of Information and recently completed a Professional Experience with Rare Books and Special Collections Library.

What’s That Number? A Thirty-Minute Dive into Deciphering a Traditional Chinese Numeral System

During my time working with the Lock Tin Lee fonds at the RBSC, I came upon a certificate that used a number I had never seen.

Image 1: close-up of a number I did not recognize

From my RBSC peers, I learned that this number belonged to a system called Suzhou numerals (苏州码子; 蘇州碼子). As per their namesake, these numerals originated from the Suzhou region in China and were a traditional numeral system used by the Chinese before the introduction of Indo-Arabic numerals. Due to its ease of use, the Suzhou numeral system was popular amongst merchants, bookkeepers, and other calculation-centric occupations. It is the only surviving variant of the rod numeral system still in use today and can be found in the markets, old-style tea restaurants, and traditional Chinese medicine shops in Hong Kong and Macau.*

But what was the number on the certificate specifically? It did not correspond immediately to any numbers on the comparison chart for Suzhou numerals.

Image 2: comparison chart for Suzhou numerals

Deciphering the number became a collaborative effort between my curious roommate, myself, and the comparison chart. Our thought process proceeded as follows:

Option 1: 42?

〤 and 〢 are accounted for, but there are two additional horizontal strokes to the right that do not correspond to any number immediately on the chart, and the strokes look too intentional to be a mistake.

Option 2: 417?

Perhaps the writer just really elongated the short vertical stroke on top of the Suzhou numeral “7” (〧), and just really missed the stroke’s centre positioning and shifted it to the left? Yes…we were pushing it.

Image 3: a visual explanation supplied by my roommate

Option 3: 422!

My roommate spotted the smaller text that noted exceptions to the standard comparison chart.

Image 4: Wikipedia excerpt explaining exceptions to the numbers’ forms

Essentially, because numbers 1, 2, and 3 all use vertical strokes in the Suzhou numeral system, adjustments to these numbers’ standard forms are made whenever they appear consecutively to avoid confusion. In our case, when two “twos” appear consecutively, their form changes to “〢二”: the certificate’s number is 422.

Between reading up on the system and our back and forth quibbles we took a total of thirty minutes to arrive at the answer—but what a satisfying conclusion it was!

*Please note: The overview above is paraphrased from Wikipedia pages on Suzhou numerals, which are below. A link about counting rods (算筹; 算籌), the ancient form of mathematical calculation in East Asia, is also below.

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Visit the new Chung | Lind Gallery

Posted on May 8, 2024 @1:00 pm by cshriver

UBC Library is excited to announce the official opening of the Chung | Lind Gallery showcasing the Wallace B. Chung and Madeline H. Chung Collection and Phil Lind Klondike Gold Rush Collection. The new exhibition space in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre on UBC’s Vancouver campus brings together two library collections of rare and culturally significant materials from Canada’s history.

Read more about the Chung | Lind Gallery:


We know that our patrons have missed being able to visit the Chung Collection Room as we have worked to prepare the new gallery. Thank you so much for your patience! We look forward to welcoming you to the new space and also introducing you to the Phil Lind Klondike Gold Rush Collection for the first time.

The Chung | Lind Gallery, on level 2 of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 am-5 pm. The gallery is free and open to the public, and people of all ages are encouraged to attend. Small group tours and class visits are available by appointment. For more information, please contact (604) 822-3053 or

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All About Oscar

Posted on April 30, 2024 @9:51 am by cshriver

Many thanks to guest blogger Barbara Towell, E-Records Manager with University Archives, for contributing the below post. This exhibit was co-curated by Barbara and RBSC Archivist Krisztina Laszlo.

Artray photo. ([1945]). Oscar outside Oscar’s Steak House at 701 Burrard Street (81420). Vancouver Public Library.

All About Oscar is an exhibit about 1940/50s businessman, Oscar Blanck. The photos are on display in Ike’s Café in the Ike Barber Learning Centre Spring 2024.

Oscar Blanck (1908-1954) was an entrepreneur, restaurateur and a bon vivant. Born in Brandon Manitoba, he was the eldest son of Jewish immigrants who escaped the antisemitic pogroms in late 19th-century Russia. Details are scant regarding Blanck’s early life except that part of it was spent with his parents and seven siblings in Winnipeg’s north-end known then as “Little Jerusalem”.

In the 1930s Blanck moved west settling in Vancouver with his wife Marjorie Prosterman. According to a 2018 interview with his daughter and UBC alumni Sharon Posner, the Blanck’s first opened a deli on Howe Street, but that venture failed. In 1943 Oscar and Marjorie tried their hand at business again by opening a small grocery and lunch counter called Oscar’s Deli. In the early years they sold groceries, home-made pickles, and sandwiches. This time the Blanck’s business did well enough to expand both their storefront and their menu as adjacent businesses either closed or moved. In just a few years the Blanck’s occupied a commanding spot at 1023 West Georgia and Oscar’s Steakhouse was established.

From Home-made Pickles to Home of the Stars

Westen, E. (1946). [Oscar Blanck tying his necktie] (UL_1622_0063). Uno Langmann Family Collection of B.C.

Oscar Blanck was a committed self-promoter who lived in an era where gimmicks were a popular publicity device; he never wore the same necktie twice, instead he gave them away to the first customer through the doors at midnight. Marjorie Blanck managed the business’ books while Oscar charmed customers, purchased product, handed out neckties, and managed the restaurant’s interior design. The latter included lining the walls with framed photographs and installing mirrors on the ceiling angled to enhance random people-watching. He was the only restaurateur that bought beef “on the hoof” at agricultural fares in part for the press coverage that the sale of prize cattle received in those days.

Oscar had two interconnected goals for his restaurant: to advertise his business by amplifying his image through press coverage; and to cultivate celebrities, which would presumably keep his restaurant full of customers hoping to catch a glimpse of a star. He achieved this objective by knowing what celebrity was in town, enticing them into his restaurant, and photographing the moment for posterity. One of the photographers frequently on-hand was Vancouver Sun photographer, Ralph Bower. Bower said that in the 1950s, Blanck would give him a free steak as payment for a photograph. But Bower was not the only photographer Oscar relied on, Blanck had a handful of photographers he could call at a moment’s notice including: Esther Weston who had a studio at 736 Granville Street, just two blocks from Oscar’s, before moving her business to New Westminster; and former Vancouver Sun photographer, Art Jones who in 1948 started Artray Studios and whose archive of 11,000 photographs was donated to Vancouver Public Library in 1994. If a musical act was playing next door at the Palomar Supper Club, and sleeping at one of the nearby hotels, Oscar endeavoured to ensure they were eating, often gratis, at his Steakhouse!

Jones, A. (c. 1945). [Oscar Blanck with Louis Armstrong] (UL_1622_0034). Uno Langmann Family Collection of B.C.

The late, great Vancouver legend, and bandleader, Dal Richards described himself as a regular at Oscar’s and confirmed that the steakhouse was ripe for celebrity-sightings. “I’d drop by from time to time and there they’d be: the Mills Brothers, Johnnie Ray, Frankie Laine, Sammy Davis Jr.” Alf Cottrell, writer for the Vancouver Daily Province casually reported that Oscar’s Steakhouse was the place where famous people “make themselves at home”. Cottrell found himself at Oscar’s late one night and was treated to insider intelligence from the server including what celebrities had been there and importantly for Cottrell, what they ate. Jazz musician, Louis Armstrong, for example, ordered hot chili con carne. Spike Jones, known for his spoof musical act, was serious and ate only Caesar salad while the Mexican Soccer team consumed plate upon plate of spaghetti. More than just king-sized steaks were popular at Oscar’s.

Explosive Midair Collision

Westen, E. (1946). [Oscar Blanck and a woman] (UL_1622_0074). Uno Langmann Family Collection of B.C.

At the height of Oscar’s popularity and just when plans for a new Oscar’s restaurant were well underway, tragedy struck. On April 8, 1954, after returning from seeing his ill sister, Oscar Blanck and 36 other people died when the plane they were travelling on, Trans Canada Airline Flight 9, collided mid-air with a RCAF training aircraft over Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. The Vancouver Sun reported Trans Canada Airline Flight 9 to be the worst Canadian air disaster in history. Oscar was 45 years old.

A memorial service was held for the crash victims in Moose Jaw that was attended by more than 1000 people. Then Provincial Premier, former Baptist Minister, and father of socialized medicine in Canada, Tommy Douglas was the principal speaker followed by various religious personnel (Trotter, 1954). Blanck’s body was returned to Vancouver and buried in the Beth Israel Synagogue in Burnaby, BC.


Blanck’s widow Marjorie Blanck, sued the Canadian Government for $100K in damages which is estimated to be over 1 million dollars when adjusted for inflation. Multiple lawsuits brought by the families of the victims of Trans Canada Airline Flight 9 were eventually settled out of court.

On March 25, 1955, two years after Oscar’s death, Vancouver Sun entertainment reporter, Jack Wasserman had the grim task of reporting the auction results of both the Palomar Supper Club and Oscar’s Steakhouse, two pillars of 1950’s night life in Vancouver. The sale of the lighting fixtures, the name, and the stock of over 1000 celebrity photographs from Oscar’s Steakhouse earned $15,000 for the estate, which is upward of $168,000 in today’s currency.

About the photographs

The photographs in this exhibit are from the Uno Langmann Family Collection of B.C. Photographs donated to Rare Books and Special Collections in 2014 and 2020. Langmann purchased a lot of 146 Oscar Blanck photos locally from Love’s Auction House in the 1960s. The full collection held by UBC Library is digitized and available to view on Open Collections. The photos in this exhibit represent a selection from those held by UBC, and just a tiny slice of the multitude that once lined the walls of Oscar’s Steakhouse, 1023 West Georgia.


All About Oscar is curated by Krisztina Laszlo (Rare Books and Special Collections) and Barbara Towell (University Archives). We were unable to ascertain the names of some of the people in the photographs. Please contact us at if you recognise anyone we could not identify.

Works Cited

Ancestry. n.d. “Solomon Blanck.” (accessed Oct. 9, 2023)

Bank of Canada. n.d. “Inflation Calculator.” (accessed Oct. 8, 2023)

Bollwitt, Rebecca. 2012 “Vancouver History, Photographer Art Jones.” Miss604. Nov. 7, 2012. (accessed, Oct. 8, 2023)

Cottrell, Alf. 1951. “But Listen.” The Vancouver Daily Province. March 10, 1951. (accessed, Oct 8, 2023)

Donaldson, Jesse. 2019. “The Forgotten Clubs That Brought Vancouver Nights to Life.“ Montecristo Magazine, January 20, 2019, updated May 17, 2021. (accessed Oct. 6, 2023)

Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada. n.d (accessed Oct. 8, 2023)

Mackie, John. “Pavel Bure, Sonny Homer’s red pants, and Ralph Bower.” The Vancouver Sun. Jun 10, 2018. (accessed Oct. 8, 2023)

Posner, Sharon. 2018. Interview by Debby Frieman. The Scribe: The Journal of Jewish Museum and Archives of British Columbia, Volume 37: 20-24.

Richards, Dal and Jim Taylor. 2009. One More Time: The Dal Richards Story. Harbour Publishing 2009

Trotter, Graham. 1954 “Five Victims of Air Crash Identified.” The Nelson Daily News, April 12, 1954. (accessed Oct 6, 2023)

Vancouver Daily Province. 1948. “Ties and T-bone Steaks Have Made Him Famous.” Dec 11, 1948. (accessed Oct. 08, 2023)

Vancouver Daily Provence. 1954. “Eyewitness Accounts: TCA Crash Scene Terrible.” April 9, 1954, (accessed October 6, 2023).

Vancouver Daily Province. 1954. “Victim’s Relatives Seek $1,795,000: Families, Estates Sue Crown for Airline Disaster.” Oct 14, 1954.October 14, 1954 (Page 10 of 42) – ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Province – ProQuest (accessed Oct 6, 2023)

Wasserman, Jack. 1955. “About Now.” The Vancouver Sun. Mar 26, 1955, (accessed Oct 8, 2023)

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RBSC satellite reading room open

Posted on April 24, 2024 @11:35 am by cshriver

Rare Books and Special Collections and University Archives is currently operating out of a satellite reading room.

Due to ongoing upgrades, the Rare Books and Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room has temporarily relocated down the hall to Irving K. Barber Learning Centre room 142.


Reading Room hours for Summer Session 2024 will be Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Scheduled class visits will be accommodated outside of public reading room hours.

To make your visit more efficient and to ensure that materials are available, please contact Rare Book and Special Collections or University Archives with your materials request before visiting the satellite reading room.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the RBSC contact form or by sending an email to or to a specific librarian or archivist.


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Upcoming reading room closure

Posted on April 4, 2024 @8:12 am by cshriver

Entrance to Special Collections. UBC Archives Photograph Collection. UBC 1.1/15912

The Rare Books and Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room will be closed on Thursday, April 18, and Friday, April 19. Normal satellite reading room hours will resume on Monday, April 23. We apologize for any inconvenience!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the RBSC contact form or by sending an email to

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Winter weather closure

Posted on January 18, 2024 @4:17 pm by cshriver

[Two women and a man holding walking sticks on snow]

[Two women and a man holding walking sticks on snow]. CC-PH-04319.

Due to winter weather conditions, the Rare Books and Special Collections and University Archives reading room will be closed on Friday, January 19. The reading room should reopen on Monday, January 22.

We apologize for any inconvenience and hope you are all staying safe and warm!

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Lowry Manuscripts (Re)Launch

Posted on January 12, 2024 @4:33 pm by cshriver

Many thanks to guest blogger Malcolm Fish for contributing the below post! Malcolm is a graduate student at the UBC School of Information and has just completed a Co-op position with RBSC. He’ll be continuing on with RBSC this term in a Graduate Academic Assistant (GAA) position.

Funding for this project was generously provided by the George Woodcock Canadian Literature and Intellectual Freedom Endowment.

[Lowry] On board the ferry to Gabriola. BC-1614-015

UBC Library Rare Books and Special Collections is pleased to announce the (re)launch of the landmark Malcolm Lowry Manuscripts Collection. One of the largest single collections of Malcolm Lowry records worldwide, UBC has been collecting Lowry materials since the initial deposit of the Malcolm Lowry papers by Lowry’s widow, Margerie Bonner Lowry, in 1961. Since that initial deposit, the collection has grown substantially, now spanning more than six meters of textual records, more than 1000 photographs, and a variety of A/V materials, including a copy of the movie adaptation of Lowry’s seminal novel, Under the Volcano. Now that work assessing and redescribing the Collection is complete, researchers and educators can access and search this incredible collection more effectively than ever.

Summary of Work Completed

The Malcolm Lowry Manuscripts Collection is one of UBC’s oldest keystone research collections. Given the scope of the holdings, any work undertaken to update and improve the collection’s inventory records and access descriptions was going to require substantial time and effort to effect. RBSC was able to acquire funding specifically to undertake an overhaul of the Collection in 2023. I was hired as a Co-op student to inventory, assess, and redescribe the Collection.

Work on the Collection was completed in four stages. First, I completed a full physical inventory of all the Malcolm Lowry materials, and compared this inventory with the existing finding aid for the Collection. During the inventory stage, I also noted any preservation issues for future treatment. Fortunately, I did not find any urgent concerns.

[Lowry and Margerie on a street]. BC-1614-664

Once I completed the inventory and confirmed the accuracy of the information in the finding aid, I began stage two, which consisted mostly of data entry. The old PDF finding aid predated current archival descriptive standards and the archival database, AtoM (Access to Memory), used by UBC. Useful information (file titles, date ranges, etc.) was taken from that finding aid and entered into AtoM, forming the file-level descriptions now available for easy searching and perusal.

During stage three, I focused on increasing intellectual control of the Collection’s many sub-collections. The Malcolm Lowry Manuscripts Collection is comprised of the core Malcolm Lowry Papers and many smaller personal collections donated by or purchased from individuals related to Malcolm Lowry. Many of these smaller collections had previously been considered distinct entities related to the Lowry Papers, but not part of them. At times they were listed twice, once in the old PDF finding aid and also as separate groupings, leading to confusion. I examined each of the sub-collections to determine whether they should be subsumed under the Malcolm Lowry Manuscripts Collection umbrella as a sous-founds (a subdivision of a fonds based on the structure of the creator or the organization of its activity) or maintained as separate, but related materials.

Stage four was reserved for the extensive Photographs sous-fonds. Prior to my work, only about 200 of the more than 1000 photographs in the Malcolm Lowry Manuscripts Collection had been described. Many of the Collection photographs originally came in the form of three photo albums. Previous RBSC staff had removed these photographs from the albums for long-term preservation purposes, but as a result, important contextual information about the order of photographs in the albums was missing. Based on numbered annotations made on the pages of the photograph albums, I added notes about which photographs had come from which albums, and updated the descriptions in the Photographs sous-fonds descriptions. The process was exactly as convoluted as it sounds, but it all led to a significantly expanded set of descriptions of one of the most frequently accessed parts of the Collection.

Once stages one through four were completed, the AtoM record for the Collection was restructured and updated to match the changes described above and descriptions from the collection down to the file and item level were uploaded, resulting in the newly (re)launched Malcolm Lowry Manuscripts Collection page.

Changes to the Collection

The Collection is now organized by creator under the Malcolm Lowry Manuscripts Collection umbrella. For example, the Margerie Lowry collection is now SF02 – Margerie Lowry Papers under the Collection umbrella. Similarly, photographs and microfilm have been given their own sous-fonds for ease of searching. These are SF13 – Photographs and SF14 – Microfilm.

For those familiar with the Collection, a few changes to the descriptions have been made, for example “Papers” is now used instead of “fonds” (e.g., SF03 – Earle Birney Papers, SF04 – Harvey Burt Papers). The Lowry Family fonds is also now also a sous-fonds under the Collection umbrella (SF12 – Lowry Family Papers). In order to maintain the accuracy of citations that refer to the previous descriptions, unique identifiers assigned to each part of the collection have been retained for searching purposes. This will allow all older citation information to remain relevant should new users need to track down a specific source, reference, or citation which predates the relaunch.

Ongoing Work

Lowry, Loughrigg How, Lake District. Author’s favorite photograph [p. is cropped with the inscription: Malcolm Lowry, author of Hear Us O Lord From Heaven Thy Dwelling place which will be published by J.B. Lippincott Company]. BC-1614-125

Once the Collection had been overhauled, I commenced processing backlogged acquisitions related to Malcolm Lowry. These include the Douglas Day Papers (SF15 – Douglas Day Papers), the Rudy Wurlitzer Papers (SF16 – Rudy Wurlitzer Papers), and several other small additions which we hope to add in 2024.

The Malcolm Lowry Manuscripts Collection is one of UBC’s keystone research collections and one of the largest single collections of Malcolm Lowry materials in the world. Researchers and educators frequently come to UBC specifically to access this collection. Overhauling, inventorying, and restructuring the collection has been a satisfying project, which ensures future users are able to effectively search the Collection and find what they are looking for.

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Season’s greetings from RBSC!

Posted on December 21, 2023 @4:52 pm by cshriver

Drawing found behind a framed photograph in the Lok Tin Lee fonds, c. 1955

Just a reminder that the Rare Books and Special Collections satellite reading room will be closed from Monday, December 25, to Monday, January 1, inclusive. Additionally, the RBSC offices will be closed on the following stat holidays: Monday, December 25; Tuesday, December 26; and Monday, January 1.

RBSC’s offices and our satellite reading room will reopen on Tuesday, January 2.

We look forward to seeing you in the New Year!

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Langmann Collection selections

Posted on October 4, 2023 @2:46 pm by cshriver

Thanks to Krisztina Laszlo, an archivist with Rare Books and Special Collections for coordinating this exhibition and contributing this blog post!

Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) is excited to announce a collaborative exhibition of photographs from the Uno Langmann Family Collection of British Columbia Photographs on display across UBC Library branches during the 2023 Fall term. Participating are the Asian Library, Woodward Library, David Lam Library, Koerner Library, Education Library, and the Law Library. The collection, donated by Uno and Dianne Langmann and Uno Langmann Limited, consists of more than 20,000 rare and unique early photographs from the 1850s to the 1970s. It is considered the premiere private collection of early provincial photos, and an important illustrated history of early photographic methods. Like much of the library and archival materials housed at RBSC, the Langmann photographs reflect the history of British Columbia, including its history of colonisation, patriarchy, homophobia, heteronormativity, and racism. These threads are interwoven through the collection, although at the time of creation the photographers meant to celebrate and document the province’s development. A contemporary critical reading of the photographs informed the curation of the overall exhibit. Each library branch selected images to display by reviewing digitised content available on Open Collections, which currently has approximately 7,900 photographs from the Langmann collection digitised and available to the public. Branch curators each selected material according to their individual vision for the exhibit and the themes they wished to address. The selections show not only the breadth of possibilities for critical engagement, and the many ways this material can be used to ask questions about our collective history, but also the incredible scope of the archive itself.

In their own words….

Langmann exhibit photos at the main entrance of the Asian Library

Asian Library

We chose the images here as we felt that these represent pivotal moments for Asian Canadian communities in British Columbia.

Japanese Gate in Torii Style, Hastings St.

This image reflects a community that has been established and is thriving within the city. There are clear signifiers of Japanese culture and tradition, indicating the establishment of Japantown in the area. The image also sparks sadness. Following this era, the area witnessed the forced removal of Japanese Canadian community members resulting from the 1942 internment, and through its location in the heart of the Downtown Eastside, it subsequently transformed into a space of despair for many residents of the area. The Hotel Balmoral, a now-derelict single-room occupancy building that was condemned by the city and is slated for demolition, is depicted here as part of a bright and bustling cityscape, reminding us that since its construction in 1911-1912, the building has been in continuous use to the present day.

Sikh Immigrants, Vancouver, B.C.

This image signifies how not just individuals but communities immigrated to these shores. We see ship, train and carriage transportation and one can really feel the tremendous voyage that the individuals in the picture have already taken to arrive at the port, and the long journey still ahead of them to settle into the city and province. The image was also taken during a time when the Canadian government was actively trying to cut off immigration from those of Sikh faith as well as other Asian migrants, underscoring the resilience of those pictured here.

Langmann exhibit photos on level 4 of Koerner Library

Koerner Library

We were interested in selecting images related to labour and workers, since this is a subject area included in the collections at Koerner Library and one that seems topical and timely. There has been much research and discussion recently about workers and jobs in relation to the pandemic, and at the time we were making our selections, union negotiations and strikes were very much in the news. We hope that our specific selections depict a few compelling examples of the breadth of work and industry that has been part of our provincial history, and the workers themselves who have done the labour.


Langmann exhibit photos on the main floor of Woodward Library

Woodward Library

The Seven Sisters

A sacred place. What do these words mean to you?

At one time these trees were the most popular destination in Stanley Park for settlers and other visitors. A trail, created to allow for more visitors, was named Cathedral Trail to acknowledge the experience of standing among these giants of the forest. There was a sense of sacredness, as if standing in a great cathedral.

Too many visitors led to damaged roots, and in the 1950s the unstable trees were felled. New trees now grow in their place, but it remains to be seen if that sacred quality will ever return.

“Guess who this is?”

Libby’s postcard to Virginia from the skiing village of Adelboden, Switzerland teases us with unanswered questions. We see an intrepid adventurer beginning the long hike up to the ski area.

Who is this person?

Is it Libby, her image transposed onto a postcard with the modern equipment of the 1950s? Or a stranger, intended to represent Libby and her adventures at Adelboden? Could it be an acquaintance, known to both Libby and Virginia?

The person seems to be setting out alone, fresh and ready for the long climb ahead – there were no chairlifts in those days. But who is taking the picture?

Education Library

Langmann exhibit photos on the main floor of the Education Library

Critical Literacy, Learning, and Place:

The Langmann photographs on display at the Education Library were selected to invite a critically literate approach to exploration of the images and how these relate to the history of education in British Columbia. These images, depicting schools and classes in BC between what is estimated to be between 1904 and 1930, invite questions about the intersection of place, time, and learning:

  • Who were the teachers and students in the classrooms during this time period?
  • Who was not included in these places of learning?
  • What kinds of lessons, both explicitly and implicitly, were being taught in these classrooms? How were they being taught?
  • What impact did these physical spaces have on the learning that took place within them? What lessons can we learn today about the way that place impacts learning?

We encourage visitors of the Education Library to consider these questions and more as they explore the photographs.

The Langmann exhibit photos are outside room 205, in the back left corner of the first floor of the David Lam library

David Lam Library

First Trans-Continental Train

I chose this image as the transcontinental railway was part of the first infrastructure to unite the east and west of Canada – a monumental point in Canadian history in 1885.

Horse and Carriage, Kamloops

This was a public bus in the 19th century. I chose this image to show what public transit was like in BC before the advent of the internal combustion engine – this is the Kamloops to Hope stagecoach line using a four horsepower locomotion: the Barnard Stage in 1885.

The Langmann exhibit photos are on level two of the Law Library which is the main entrance floor

Law Library

We selected the two photos of Lynn Canyon because of the serene natural setting. Both photos provide a perfect parallel to the natural beauty of Pacific Spirit Regional Park that surrounds the UBC Vancouver campus. In addition, the north side of the UBC Law Library provides exceptional views of the North Shore where Lynn Canyon is situated.


This endeavour was truly a group-effort! Thank you to everyone who helped make this multi-branch exhibit possible: Elizabeth Stevenson (Woodward Library), Sally Taylor (Woodward Library), Jacky Lai (Rare Books and Special Collections), Weiyan Yan (Rare Books and Special Collections), Jennifer Orme (David Lam Library), Christina Sylka (David Lam Library), Irena Trebic (David Lam Library), Anne Olsen (Koerner Library), Alex Alisauskas (Koerner Library),  Elizabeth Robertson (Co-op Student, Koerner Library), George Tsiakos (Law Library), the team at the Asian Library,  Jennifer Fairchild Simms (Education Library), Emily Fornwald (Education Library).

It’s been a pleasure working with all of you.

Krisztina Laszlo, Rare Books and Special Collections Archivist and Project Coordinator

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Highlighting student work

Posted on September 18, 2023 @10:29 am by cshriver

This summer, RBSC was delighted to host a class from Langara College studying the geography of British Columbia. The course, taught by Professor David Brownstein, included an assignment that tasked students with choosing a digitized archival item, describing what the object means to the regional geography of British Columbia, why is it important, and why they selected it. A few students kindly gave us permission to share their selections on our blog, along with short excerpts from their final assignments. Enjoy!

City of New Westminster, before the Fire

Selected by German David Gonzalez

City of New Westminster, before the Fire. W.R. Creech. RBSC-Frmd-Lscape-006.

The cause of the [New Westminster] fire remains unknown, but the catastrophe was of such magnitude that an aid committee was formed. The fire motivated the creation of a complete fire brigade and brought touristic growth for the city, which then started receiving more and more visitors who wanted to see with their own eyes how a place that was once devastated, became rebuilt.

Lake District of Southern British Columbia

Selected by Yat Man Lam

The Lake District of Southern British Columbia. Canadian Pacific Railway. The Wallace B. Chung and Madeline H. Chung Collection. CC-TX-201-6-2.

This pamphlet featured in its front cover several well-dressed ladies and children enjoying their time in a picturesque countryside, the lake district of southern British Columbia, where there were mountains, trees, rivers, valleys and fields. It was produced by The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) in 1920 as a promotional initiative to attract visitors to the stretch of land between the Prairies of Western Canada and the Pacific Coast…  The CPR’s success, achieved through collaboration with the government and resulted in its acquisition of 25 million acres of land (Eagle, 1989[1]), came at the hidden cost of displacing the Indigenous communities.

[1] EAGLE, J. A. (1989). The Canadian Pacific Railway and the Development of Western Canada, 1896-1914. McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Indigenous People Catching Salmon

Selected by Jonry Ephraim Isla

Indigenous People catching salmon, Somas River in Vancouver Island. Leonard Frank. Uno Langmann Family Collection of BC Photographs. UL-1550-0002.

Understanding and acknowledging the contributions of Indigenous peoples is essential to grasp the historical and cultural significance of their presence in British Columbia’s fishing industry. With their deep-rooted connection to the ocean and its resources, Indigenous communities have practiced fishing for thousands of years, playing a vital role in shaping the fishing industry in the region. Their traditional knowledge and sustainable fishing practices have been integral to the development of the salmon business in BC. Figure 1 shows a rare photograph taken in 1910 by Leonard Frank, a German-Canadian photographer, which presents two Indigenous men actively fishing for salmon. While Leonard Frank gained fame for his extensive collection of photos, predominantly centered around industrial advancements and city life, he also captured moments of Indigenous life, making their activities part of his photographic legacy.

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