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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Easter weekend closure at Rare Books and Special Collections

Posted on April 21, 2011 @7:31 am by sromkey

A reminder that Rare Books and Special Collections, University Archives and the Chung Collection will be closed for the Easter long weekend (Friday April 22 through Monday April 25 inclusive). Also a reminder that last Saturday was our final open Saturday for the 2010-2011 academic year- our summer hours are in effect  after the long weekend (Monday to Friday, 9-5).

Good Friday procession, Vancouver 1914

Good Friday procession, Vancouver 1914

The image above is from the B.C. Historical Photograph Collection and depicts a Good Friday procession from the St. James Anglican Church on Cordova Street in Vancouver in 1914. It is on the front side of a postcard, produced by Timms’s Photography. St. James was established in 1881, but burned down in the Great Fire of 1886. The current building, at 303 Cordova St.,  was designed by architect Adrian Scott and opened in 1936 (see The History of Metropolitan Vancouver- 1936).

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Featured place: Fernie

Posted on April 19, 2011 @3:08 pm by sromkey

In our ongoing series of B.C. place names used in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, this week we will look at Fernie, B.C.  Located in the East Kootenay region of British Columbia, Fernie is nearer to Alberta than it is to the rest of the province.  Fernie’s main industry was and still is coal mining (the town is named after William Fernie, who started the coal mines in 1887) but today also includes tourism (especially skiing- Fernie made a bid for the 1968 Olympic games), transport and trade.

The District Ledger, 1910

The District Ledger, 1910

Our featured document is a newspaper- the District Ledger which ran under various titles from at least 1893 to 1919 (see the B.C. Archives list of microfilmed newspapers). The District Ledger was technically the newspaper of the local district of the United Mine Workers of America, but also functioned as a local newspaper and job printer for the area. RBSC holds one lonely copy of the District Ledger, dated Oct. 21, 1910. (Do you have a stack of old District Ledgers in your basement or attic? We’d love to hear from you!)

Rare Books and Special Collections collects historic newspapers from across the province (and embracing the whole alphabet, from Abbotsford to Zeballos!). Newspapers are very popular amongst researchers as a way of understanding the important issues in other communities, in other time periods. Newspaper digitization projects have frequently been funded by the BC History Digitization Program.  For help on newspapers more generally, check out UBC Library’s Newspapers research guide.

In the Barber Centre, the Fernie Reading Room is number 380, and is a study area for the use of students in the UBC Gateway Programs: Arts One, Science One, Coordinated Arts and Coordinated Science.

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Featured place: Kootenay River

Posted on April 5, 2011 @9:00 am by kalsbeek

The Kootenay River Room, a large, bright and airy group study room (room 422) on the 4th floor of the Barber Centre, is named after the Kootenay River, one of the tributaries of the Columbia River. It is a major river that runs through southeastern British Columbia, Canada and the northern part of Montana and Idaho. Throughout the history of British Columbia, many people from various backgrounds have lived and traveled along its banks.

The very source of the Columbia River, looking south across Canal Flat toward the Kootenay river, ID # BC-146

The people of the Ktunaxa (Kootenai) nation have lived, fished and hunted along the river for thousands of years.

Image Credit:

In the early 19th century, the first European explorer to visit the area, David Thompson, explored and surveyed the Kootenay’s banks, calling it “McGillivray’s River” on his 1814 map (the original map is in the Archives of Ontario and is part of F443, the David Thompson fonds ). Rare Books and Special Collections has a reproduction of Thompson’s 1814 map, published by the Champlain Society in 1916 : Map of the north-west territory of the province of Canada.

Image credit: Champlain Society Digital Collections:

In the late 19th century, the Doukhobors, a “Spiritual Christianity” sect that originated in Russia in the late 16th-17th century and rejects organized government and the church, left Russia and travelled to Canada. Various groups settled in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. In 1908, the group that settled in British Columbia, called the Community Doukhobors, purchased 2,700 acres of land along the Kootenay River. Their leader, Peter Verigan, called the settlement “Brilliant,” after the sparkling waters of the river.

In Rare Books and Special Collections, there is a large body of archival material related to the Doukhobors. You may be interested in consulting the Doukhobor research collection , the Peter Faminow fonds and the Jim Hamm research collection.

In 2010, the Irving K Barber British Columbia History Digitization Program funded a digitization project by the Touchstones Nelson: Museum of Art and History, Changes Upstream: Along the Kootenay River North of the 49th Parallel Before and After the Libby Dam, 1969-72. Visit this digital exhibition to view images of the homes, lifestyles and lands of communities along the Kootenay River during the summers of 1969-72.

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Updated archives: Mildred Fahrni fonds

Posted on March 25, 2011 @8:35 am by sromkey

We have recently updated the archives of Mildred Fahrni, a social activist from B.C. who was active in a number of human, woman’s and children’s rights organizations, including the YMCA, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and a school for homeless boys in India. An active speaker and lecturer, she won the Vancouver Peace Award in 1991 before she passed away in 1992.

The archives include files on various issues and organizations, including Fahrni’s own notes and other collected documents, extensive photographs of her travels through Russia, India, Japan, Central and South America and the Middle East, and recordings of Fahrni interviewing and being interviewed by others on various human rights and social issues. This collection is one of many that show the impact of British Columbians worldwide.

Mildred Fahrni planting a tree in Mexico

Mildred Fahrni planting a tree in Mexico, 1986, Box 13 file 1

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Featured place: Slocan

Posted on March 23, 2011 @8:15 am by sromkey

This week’s featured place name and Irving K. Barber Centre room is Slocan.  Slocan can refer to a number of geographic features- Slocan Valley, River, Lake, or City. This region is in the West Kootenay area of British Columbia.

We are using Slocan to highlight our Japanese-Canadian resources, because the village of Slocan (commonly known as Slocan City) was one of the sites of the Japanese Canadian internment camps during the Second World War.

The photographs below are from the Japanese Canadian Historical Photograph Collection, which is digitized and available freely online. There are a number of photographs of the Slocan internment camp in the collection, including photographs of Japanese Canadians arriving at the camp, as in the first photo, and of daily life in the camp, as in the second photo, taken in the dining hall.

Japanese Canadians being processed in Slocan

Japanese Canadians being processed in Slocan, JCPC 24.008

Group photograph in dining hall in Slocan Camp

Group photograph in dining hall in Slocan Camp, JCPC 17.005

Textual records related to Japanese Canadians in Slocan can be found in the Japanese Canadian Research Collection, in the Yamaga Yasutaro fonds, and also in the Jack Duggan fonds. Jack Duggan was a supervisor for the R.C.M.P. at the Slocan camp.  Author Joy Kogawa (whose archives are located in Rare Books and Special Collections) and environmentalist David Suzuki (whose archives are located in University Archives) were both sent as children to the Slocan camp in 1942.

In the Barber Centre, the Slocan room is part of the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies (SLAIS). Specifically, this room is a study area frequented by SLAIS’s doctoral students. You can read about the doctoral students and their research interests here.

Sign for SLAIS

Sign for SLAIS, photograph courtesy of School of Library, Archival and Information Studies

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A year of writers’ archives

Posted on March 18, 2011 @1:45 pm by sromkey

Rare Books and Special Collections collects the archives of a number of British Columbian authors, all of whom have made a significant impact on literature in this province.  A number of these archival collections have been updated over the past year or so (click on the name of each author to read the finding aids for the archives):

Roy Miki is an author, poet, and literary scholar, but is also well known for his advocacy work concerning redress for Japanese Canadians who were sent to internment camps during the Second World War. The addition to his archives includes records related to writing, teaching and editing, but also a significant body of research on Japanese Canadian history and the issue of redress, including photographs, research notes and audio recordings of oral histories and redress committee meetings.

Roy Miki in "Redress now" t shirt, ID # BC-2012-696

Roy Miki in "Redress now" t shirt, ID # BC-2012-696

Joy Kogawa is best known as the author of Obasan and Naomi’s Road, read in classrooms across the country. Although she currently resides in Toronto, she grew up in Vancouver before being sent to an internment camp with her family during the Second World War (the Land Conservancy of B.C. is currently preserving her childhood home). The addition to her archives includes records related to several of her novels: Emily Kato, Itsuka, Obasan, The rain ascends, Naomi’s Road, and A garden of anchors.  These records include drafts in various stages, correspondence with publishers, and articles and clippings about the novels.

David Watmough is a British expat who has been living in Vancouver since 1962. He writes in a variety of mediums: poems, short stories, novels, plays, monodramas, and sonnets. Watmough has been active in the British Columbia literary scene since his arrival, and is also credited with opening the doors for gay and lesbian writers in B.C., as the first openly gay male writer in the province. The addition to his archives includes drafts of short stories, poems and sonnets- see Box 80 in the finding aid.

Finally, we have recently updated the archives of Eric Nicol, who sadly passed away on February 2 this year. Although Eric Nicol did not describe himself as a humourist, his numerous pieces of humour poked fun at Canadian politics, sports, and life in British Columbia and won him numerous Stephen Leacock awards for humour.  The most recent addition to his archives includes publication and financial records, and manuscripts, for his latter books, and a wonderful collection of correspondence he wrote to his parents and friends while traveling in Europe in the 1940’s and 50’s. As his obituary in the Victoria Times Colonist read, “RIP. LOL.”

Post card from Eric Nicol to his parents, 1944, Box 44 File 2

Post card from Eric Nicol to his parents, 1949, Box 44 File 2

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New archives: the Fuller family singers

Posted on March 14, 2011 @9:00 am by sromkey

A modestly sized but interesting collection has been added to Rare Books and Special Collections- the Fuller family fonds contains the records of a family of musicians- Rosalind, Cynthia and Dorothy Fuller were the talent, brother Walter acted as their manager. The Fuller sisters originated from Dorset, England, but these records are from their American tour in the mid to late 1910’s. The Fuller sisters performed English, Irish and Scottish folk songs, in Victorian costume and accompanied by harp.  Their travels took them throughout America, but primarily in the Eastern and Midwestern United States. Walter Fuller was based during this time New York, and managed their bookings and other business matters. It appears that the family moved back to England after the end of the First World War.

The Fuller sisters, from a program (File 1-10)

The Fuller sisters, from a program (File 1-10)

The collection contains correspondence between Walter and the sisters, as well as business documents such as contracts and receipts. Additionally there are concert programs, reviews, requests from audience members, and printed music broadsides which the family had printed and sold. Photographs show the sisters and Walter, and sketches and drawings show some of their impressions from their travels.

There are few, if any, secondary sources related to the Fuller sisters’ musical contributions, although some mention of their performances can be found in historic publications by searching Google Books for their names. Their brother Walter does have a famous connection though- while in America, he married Crystal Eastman, feminist activist and co-founder of The Liberator magazine and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Walter’s own feelings on the War are revealed in a 1917 letter to his sister Dorothy:

As to the question of giving the concert for ourselves or of sharing profits with the Red Cross, I really cannot make up my mind… I am constantly having the idea in my mind, of our giving these concerts for some more innocent sufferers from the war than the soldiers. There is for instance the Blue Cross, which does good things for the horses at the front, and then, or course, there are various funds in aid of children in all the countries.” (From file 1-1).

Advertising card, File 1-10

Advertising card, File 1-10

This collection came to Rare Books and Special Collections as part of the Phillip J. Thomas Popular Song Collection, which consists mostly of sheet music and books about popular forms of song, including ballads, folk music, hymns, work songs, and more.

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Featured place: Sandspit

Posted on March 7, 2011 @3:21 pm by kalsbeek

In mid-November, our featured place was Moresby Island. It was interesting to learn that there are actually two Islands with the name Moresby in British Columbia.

One of those Islands named Moresby Island is located in the Queen Charlotte archipelago. Our featured place this week is Sandspit, a small community of approximately 400 people, located on the northeastern tip of Moresby Island, near Spit Point. Situated between two beaches– Shingle Bay Beach to the west and Shell Beach to the south-east– Sandspit is the only settlement on Moresby Island.

Located on a long peninsula of sand and gravel, Sandspit has been home to the Haida people for thousands of years. The town today is sustained by logging, transportation (it has the largest airport on Haida Gwaii) and tourism.

In Rare Books and Special Collections, we do not have a lot material on Sandspit. So, to search for archival records related to Sandspit, or other small communities in British Columbia, we recommend that you try searching, a portal where you can access descriptions of archival materials preserved in repositories throughout the province.

If you search for the keyword “Sandspit”, you will retrieve records from the Haida Gwaii Museum at Qay’llnagaay, located on nearby Graham Island.

Room 381, the Sandspit Meeting Room, is named after this important community in British Columbia. Located on the third floor of the Irving K Barber, this meeting room is part of the Gateway Programs: Arts One, Science One, Coordinated Science and Coordinated Arts.

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New archives: Heavenly Monkey fonds

Posted on March 4, 2011 @4:42 pm by sromkey

We’re thrilled to announce that Rare Books and Special Collections is now the home of the archives of Heavenly Monkey letterpress and binding studio. We have been long-time collectors of the output of Heavenly Monkey (search the library catalogue) and now you can use the archives to understand these beautiful publications from start to finish.

Heavenly Monkey is the imprint of publisher Rollin Milroy, and grew from his first press called A Lone Press in 1999.  Heavenly Monkey is dedicated to the use of techniques and materials traditional to the fine book arts- handmade paper, letterpress printing and fine bindings. Its catalogue is eclectic; according to Milroy, he prints things he think he would appreciate having on his own book shelf.  Heavenly Monkey has collaborated with an impressive group of authors, designers bookbinders and publishers, including Robert Reid, Jim Rimmer, Barbara Hodgson and Claudia Cohen.

The archives contain everything you would want to see to understand a Heavenly Monkey book from start to finish, from setting copies, layout schematics, dummies, impressions, printing blocks and plates and correspondence with collaborators. The collection was catalogued by one of our student archivists, who described the process as being “like Christmas-” every little package contained something new and wonderful to explore.

Printing block, Heavenly Monkey fonds box 18

Printing block, Heavenly Monkey fonds box 18

El autobus azul mockups

El autobus azul mockups (nickel shown for scale). Heavenly Monkey fonds, box 18

Stay tuned- soon we will have available a copy of Heavenly Monkey’s most recent publication, The WunderCabinet, by Barbara Hodgson and Claudia Cohen. It is a truly remarkable collaboration.

To find out how Heavenly Monkey got its name, you’ll have to come to Rare Books and Special Collections to see the Heavenly Monkey’s 2002 Christmas card- box 2 file 3.

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