Sometimes the most mundane tasks can lead to the most interesting discoveries.
One of those mundane but essential tasks is the compilation of inventories. My department wants to ensure that all of the colour transparencies and slides of our Paintings, Drawings, and Prints (PDP) collection have been scanned, uploaded and attached to their online descriptions in AtoM. We need an inventory to assist with this. It’s a pretty straightforward process: I look at the transparencies, list them by PDP number, determine if the image is already available in our digital repository, check that a description exists in AtoM, and see if a scan of the image already appears online. I have a good eye for detail, and I find a number of anomalies I’ll need to straighten out.
Then I lift a transparency to the light and I see a colourful image that reminds me of the folk art of Maud Lewis. I pick up another, and it is more of the same. These images I am holding in my hands are colourful, and with one or two there is a sense of whimsy. I think it is the sense of motion and the relationship between space and perspective that reminds me of Lewis’s work. Taken as a group, they are very detailed and technical–yet they are not technical drawings.
These transparencies make me eager to see the originals. A colleague and I go into the PDP vault and locate the container. We find that the colours in the originals are far brighter than those in the transparencies; they appear to be drawn in pencil crayon. The subject of all of the drawings is mining in British Columbia. We’re entranced by the originals—the passion the artist has for his subject is clearly evident.
While compiling his memoirs, David Henry Norcross (1901-1980) gathered his drawings of early mining into a collection he named “Recollections 1975.” The container holds more than the colour drawings. Within a brown binder anchored by a metal clip, there is photocopied material meant to act as an index or finding aid to the images. This material includes copies of the drawings and written commentary to accompany each image. This includes description of machinery, transport, mining tools, miners, mine sites, and history. On the copies of the drawings, Norcross has numbered certain points, which then correspond to points in the commentary. Unfortunately, the paper appears to be from an earlier form of photocopying, and the ink used on it has already faded. I’m glad that I’ve discovered this in time, and I make a digital preservation surrogate. Now, at least, we will have a stable preservation copy of the information provided by Norcross.
The man who made these drawings also wrote “I am not an artist” in the introduction to his material. I think that simple statement expresses one rationale for our PDP collection. It is a documentary art collection, where the pieces are acquired and preserved because of the visual record they provide of British Columbia’s past. This isn’t about pieces of fine art; it is about documenting specific times and places, people and activities.
Norcross was born in the Kootenay area; primarily lived and worked in the mines of British Columbia; and, ultimately, died in the Kootenay area searching for one of the mines he so loved. He was born in a Granite Siding homestead and began his mining career at age 16. He travelled throughout BC, working in approximately 50 mines. He was closely associated with the Chamber of Mines of Eastern BC and was widely recognized for his knowledge of mining in BC. His obituary noted that with his death, a vital link to the oral history of mining has been lost. But his knowledge of mining has not been lost; it exists here in the archives in his lovingly depicted scenes of mining. The Norcross collection is a wonderful set of drawings, created by an unknown artist who sought to document what he knew about the early years of mining in British Columbia.
When the Webster collection was transferred over to the BC Archives, a determination was made as to which episodes should have priority preservation. As this institution is primarily a holder of Government records, it seemed obvious to focus first and foremost on members of various levels of government.
A viewing of the top picks confirms this supposition. Premiers, Prime Ministers, Leaders of the opposition, mayors, opposition critics, ministers of the crown, and First nations leaders dominate the list.
A quick check shows that of the first 350 shows identified as important, over 200 were shows with political leaders both federal, provincial, first nations and municipal. Many of the rest were shows with people representing special interests trying to influence government with issues such as the environment, special needs, First Nations, unions, business interests, farming, prison reform, mental health, dominating that list.
It was only later that other shows were identified. Shows with authors, musicians, and topics of the day were all identified. We even discovered a person promoting the benefits of cod liver oil!
Now that about three quarters of the shows have been digitized, very little has disappeared through the cracks.
All these decisions were made based on various content lists that were provided with the collection.
Of course, not all shows were identified, and these were described in the listings as “unknown content.”
One of the final sweeps we did was to collect a large number of these undescribed shows and have them digitized as well. One of these episodes stood out.
As Dave Barrett prepared to leave the legislature, Jack Webster had what can best be described as an “exit interview.”
Luckily we had enough special funding to make the decision to have a look at this unknown content to see what was there.
Otherwise we may never have known that this conversation took place.
As we mourn his death, please enjoy this interview.
And remember the Archival mantra. Identify, describe, record!
Start of interview. Link
Dave Barrett’s view of his major achievements. Link
The humour clips Link
As we embrace the festive season, I find myself looking at the faces of young children and families as they discover the magic of Christmas. I see the joy and excitement they feel, and wish I could experience Christmas once more through a child’s eyes. Many of us try to capture the excitement in photographs and videos that we share with family and friends through social media.
In years past, these celebrations would have been captured in 16 mm or 8 mm home movies, some of which survive as treasured family artifacts. Some of these films may find their way into archives where they can be safely preserved for the enjoyment of future generations. I hope families will preserve today’s digital memories as they once preserved film footage.
Paul W. Billwiller was a mining engineer who lived and worked in Britannia Beach, BC. We are lucky to have his home movies in the BC Archives collection, especially because they include footage of a series of Christmas celebrations spanning the years 1946-1953. I would think this type of footage is relatively rare—the same annual event being filmed over several years with the same young boy. This video clip of edited excerpts from the home movies begins with young John Billwiller’s first Christmas in 1946. The family is enjoying their celebration and the new baby is propped up in a chair, surrounded by new toys and showered with attention. I suspect that this was the quietest Christmas for this family for a number of years! We see signs of the affluence of the post-war years, but also the relatively modest gifts that the family members receive: the new mother’s sweater held up for display, and (likely) a grandmother’s bottle of eau de toilette. There are shots of the tree, the festive dinner table resplendent with a golden turkey, and the suit jackets and ties worn by the men.
Three years later, it’s Christmas 1949, and we can revisit a toddler’s pleasure and excitement in opening the gaily wrapped gifts. (Oops, what happens here with John’s toy car?) By 1950, John is considerably more excited by the gift opening. He’s a young lad now—did you notice the smaller red table and child-sized chair? I wonder if John plays at this table when it isn’t holding Christmas presents. The train set must have been the earnest wish of many a young child; his has sliding doors on one car. John is fascinated as he watches the train travel along the track. But wait? Is this John’s father playing with the controls? Come on now, Dad, surely John gets a turn!
I think the pinnacle of holiday excitement occurs during Christmas 1953. John looks so excited that he doesn’t know which present to open first. He’s all smiles as he plays with some sort of pellet gun. And look at this—a set of junior carpentry tools, another much-wished-for gift. There are more gifts this year, including the requisite western cowboy’s holster and six-guns, a toy airplane, and a fancy pen. Yet another holiday dinner with the turkey as the guest of honour, escorted proudly to the table by Mother. And remember those festive paper hats—not too close to the candle flame, John!
We’re fortunate to have this material in our collection, preserved with care and attention, ready for future generations to access. It is a window to another time—one that is long past, but still able to evoke memories of our own family celebrations.
Home movies were special; they were different from the digital footage you shoot on your cell phone. The film was a finite resource. A reel of 8 mm film provided fifty feet, or about four minutes running time. The cost of film and processing placed certain restraints on amateur filmmakers, meaning that they would need to carefully plan out what they intended to capture on film. I think it resulted in home movies that were more tightly focused on relevant subjects. You can see that in several of the Billwiller clips—a shot of the tree, long enough to see it but not lingering, shots of gift opening, and of the turkey.
Free of the constraints imposed by the cost of materials and processing, today’s digital movies of family events, often shot on cell phones, seem more rambling and lacking in narrative focus. They don’t tell a story in the same way that a good film does. And, more worryingly, I wonder if today’s digital artifacts are treated differently than physical film. Countless families have stored reels of film for many decades, but how many people keep an old cell phone in a trunk or box in the attic, or migrate its contents to a hard drive? And even if the digital memories are kept, will they always be accessible? A piece of film, even if damaged, can still be held up to the light, and images appear. A digital file needs the right software and hardware to make it accessible. I am not arguing for film versus digital; I just think we should consider how we want to preserve our digital memories. Paul Billwiller’s footage of his son John’s very first Christmas in 1946 is now 71 years old. It tells us a lot about families, and celebrations, and culture. In 2088, will you be able to access your digital memories to remember those long-ago celebrations?
The Victoria Eaton Centre was built in 1989.
One of the conditions of construction was the promise to maintain the facades of the various buildings that were demolished to make way for the mall.
An example of this is located on the corner of Fort and Broad Street, where the Victoria Times Newspaper had their printing office. Next to it is the Winch building where I remember Eaton’s had a side entrance to their store.
One of the final holdouts was the McDonald’s Restaurant on Douglas Street. It was eventually relocated one block north on the corner of Douglas and View streets. A section of the closed Woolworths store was carved out to create the restaurant. The rest of the building was remodeled to house the Chapters book store.
As part of the reconstruction, eleven architectural elements were added to the building’s View Street façade.
Why were they placed there?
To find the answer, let’s look at the history of the north west corner of Fort and Douglas Street.
The best places to look for the answer are the Victoria fire insurance maps, the Victoria City directories and some historic photographs.
The 1911 Fire Insurance map Vol 1 shows the area on page 7.
Most of the block is developed, including the Times and Winch buildings on Fort Street.
On Douglas Street, The Royal Dairy is half way down the Block, next to the Victoria Theatre building which extends to View Street. There is a note on the plan that David Spencer Dry Goods operates in the north half of the block around and above the theatre.
The land on the corner of Fort and Douglas between the dairy and the Winch building contains several one story buildings and another more substantial one story building right on the corner.
The city directories add further information.
The 1912 city directory lists several tenants in the Times building.
The Winch building (640 Fort) appears to be empty, but
James Waites, locksmith (644 Fort)
Edward Jackson, shoemaker 646 Fort) and
Duncan Campbell, druggist (650 Fort) are listed.
Douglas Street is occupied by
Duncan Campbell, druggist (1100 Douglas) Note the double address for the corner
J H Tomlinsons, real estate (1106 Douglas)
Royal Dairy (1110 Douglas) and
Victoria Theatre (1112 and 1116 Douglas)
The Dairy is in a separate building. The theatre has it’s own separate entrances.
The entrance to Spencer’s store is around the corner at 637 View Street and 1119 Broad Street, both near that corner.
By 1920 it appears that the Theatre has closed and Spencer’s has taken over the theatre’s two Douglas Street entrances.
United Coop Association (1104 Douglas)
Dunfords Limited (1106 Douglas)
Royal Dairy (1110 Douglas)
David Spencer Ltd (1112 and 1116 Douglas)
On Fort Street, the Winch building is occupied by 28 tenants
The Square Deal Hardware company occupies the corner building (650 Fort)
The United Coop is wrapped around it at 646 Fort and 1104 Douglas.
The Shoemaker is now at 648 Fort
By 1929 the Winch building is renamed by its major tenant, The Christy Hall building (640 Fort) and The Square Deal Hardware Company is still in operation.
Douglas Street is occupied by
Madeline Silk Shops (1102 Douglas)
VH Watchorn (1104 Douglas)
Gordon Ellis Ltd (1104 Douglas)
Leather Goods Store (1106 Douglas)
Fletcher Brothers (a music store) (1110 Douglas) and
David Spencer (1112 Douglas), reduced now to a single address.
By 1940 more changes are made to the street addresses, reflecting more closely what they were when the mall was built in 1989.
In 1930, the buildings on the corner are replaced by the Kresge Department Store (1930, archt. G.A. McElroy of Windsor)
The new building has a unique Douglas Street address for the SS Kresge Company on the ground floor and a separate address for the upstairs tenants. (1100 and 1104)
Part of the new building includes Sobie Silk shops at 1106 and
Norman Cull optometrist is at 1108
The Dairy building now has two tenants
Sally Shop (1126) and
Fletcher Brothers (1130)
The main entrance to Spencer’s is now 1150 Douglas, which Eaton’s maintained as their store address and is now the street address for the present mall.
Across the Street are various businesses including
Film shop, photograph developer at 1107
Kelways Black Horse Café (1111)
George Straith men’s clothing store (1117)
This photograph shows Douglas Street during the mid 1940’s.
This detail shows the business signs from the buildings across the street from the Spencer’s store. You can make out some of the street signs for the businesses mentioned earlier.
This detail shows the entrance to Spencer’s Store and the Woolworth building in the background.
And at the very bottom left of the photograph is this design detail.
One of the tricks used in early twentieth century building design was to make the front of your building look taller than it really was.
This seems to be the case here.
Notice how the roofline of the Kresge building seems to match up with the old dairy building next door, But the Fletcher music sign is still visible in this photograph.
A similar example can be seen for what is now 1222 Douglas Street.
This picture shows the Kresge building more clearly. It very much is attempting to hide the fact that this building is only two stories tall by trying to be nearly as tall as the three story building beside it.
And look! There are those design elements used to rebuild the restaurant mentioned earlier.
All 20 of them.
Over time, The Kresge’s store became a Marks and Spencer’s.
And the McDonald’s? It moved into the former Dairy building that the Fletcher’s Music store and the Sally shop had occupied.
So the design elements on the new restaurant are actually from the building beside it.
As an aside, if you ever visit the mall have a look at the front entrance. Or go out on the food court veranda and explore there.
There are several images in the Archives collection that I used in the article, or noticed while researching this article
Looking towards the new restaurant
The Royal Dairy sign
Vernon Hotel (the Woolworth building)
The Woolworth store
View Street pre Kresge’s
Douglas Street taken south of Fort Street
Winter scene with Ritz Hotel
Guess where this is?
To compete with this?
While working with archival documents it is always of interest to look at the other side of the page.
In today’s example, A person needed to publish several legal notices in the local paper.
Luckily, the entire newspaper page was submitted.
The following article appeared on the back of the page (The Province [Vancouver], Friday, 10 November, 1972.)
It describes how Pacific Western Airlines was able to ship live beef to Europe, because its cargo plane could return with a cargo of grapes which were now available throughout BC and Alberta.
The article also explains how the plane was cleaned, presumably before the grapes were loaded on to the plane.
The Wikipedia page for PWA mentions the following:
Boeing 707 equipment was added to the fleet in 1967… The addition of a cargo model Boeing 707 meant that livestock and perishables could now be carried all over the world, and the name Pacific Western became synonymous with “World Air Cargo”. The company aircraft visited more than 90 countries during this period of time.
Pacific Western operated a worldwide Boeing 707 cargo and passenger charter program until the last aircraft was sold in 1979.
This is in the era where container shipping was beginning its world wide adoption.
Air cargo was expanding during this time as well, when “Boeing launched the four engine 747, the first wide-body aircraft” in 1968.
As the newspaper report explains, transportation of people and goods only makes sense if the airplane is loaded to maximum capacity at all times.
This was the thinking behind the Triangular trading system of the 19th century.
Even today with airplanes that can travel half way around the world, the take off and landing locations are the national hub airports.
Air cargo has undergone the same thinking.
In the 1972 news report, it only made sense to Pacific Western Airlines to undertake this one-off trip once the entire route was fully booked.
The article goes on to describe how the airline was looking for other opportunities. They recognized the potential, but the tipping point (the development of an airport hub for cargo) had not yet arrived.
UPS has a similar hub in Louisville. Here is an example of one airplane in the UPS fleet that revisits the hub city regularly. This particular plane left Louisville on 28 May 2017 and travelled around the world via Honolulu, Hong Kong, Dubai, Cologne, and Philadelphia, before returning to Louisville three days later.
When you read this article, there will probably be more recent examples of round the world trips or forays to Asia or Europe before returning to it’s home base.
Mr. W. Allan Eadie produce manager for Woodward’s, and PWA cargo specialist Ken Bjorge would be impressed!
As Mister Eadie says in the report, he hoped that this operation would expand because of “this cattle thing.”
He and Mister Bjorge may have failed to realize that the problem was not to solve the “cattle thing.” They needed to solve the “hub thing.”
PWA purchased CP Air to form Canadian Airlines International in 1987.
It merged with Air Canada in 2001.
Expo 86 opened its doors to the world on 02 May, 1986.
Leading up to the World Fair, several large infrastructure projects were proposed and planned for, so that they would be open and useable by the public by the time the fair opened.
These projects included
These projects were discussed on the Webster Show.
Of course politics was involved, as the mayor defended his vision of what Vancouver would look like, as it celebrated the hundredth anniversary of its founding.
Redevelopment of False Creek was a major issue – BC Architect Arthur Erickson and the director of planning for BC Place, David Padmore discuss the Expo 86 site plans.
Here is the interview of a member of the BC Place planning committee.
Sky train was a region wide issue.
This episode shows the proposed route of the LRT as Steve Wyatt drives the streets of Vancouver, trying to get as close to the proposed route as possible.
Bear in mind that the route used existing railway rights of way for the majority (if not all) of the line.
There are several versions of this. The final one was slowed down somewhat so you can see the surrounding city a little more easily.
For the unedited show see this Link.
Canada Place – the cruise ship terminal. Webster goes on a fly about/ walk about
BCTV was a major sponsor and broadcast daily from the Expo grounds.
Here is part of the hype, when some of the pieces get lost.
Counting Down to opening day
And after the exhibition
And distributing the wealth
One of my tasks as a Digital Access Technician is to identify and propose small digitization projects. Imagine browsing in the archives stack areas, surrounded by all manner of storage containers. As I walk through the stacks, I am thinking about my experience in the reference room, and recalling which records groups were most frequently consulted. What kinds of questions did people have, and what records did I use to answer those inquiries?
I find myself pulling a box of GR-0461, Teachers Bureau records off the shelf and moving to a table to browse its contents. We often receive requests for information about specific BC schools, and about their teachers. These records are interesting for what they reveal about the history of education, and as records of rural life in British Columbia. They are also valuable in family and genealogical research. Young men and women became teachers and moved to these rural and remote schools. Now their grandchildren and great-grandchildren search for records that might contain a glimpse into the teacher’s world. Public interest is a factor I think about when proposing a digitization project. Not only do I want to draw attention to our records, but I also want the digitized records to be useful to the public. Records that are useful for genealogy research meet a public demand.
The extent of the records is something to consider. I like to keep projects to a reasonable size so they can be completed in a timely manner. This group consists of approximately 1400 pages, and that strikes me as about the right size for a small digitization project. The format of the records is another important consideration. Can I scan them easily myself, without help from our staff photographer? Do they need to be removed from bindings? Will they require conservation prior to scanning? Preparing such records for scanning takes more time and additional staff resources.
GR-0461 consists of two boxes of documents in file folders. That’s a manageable size for a small project. This group consists of forms that were sent to schools, filled out, and returned to the Department of Education. I wonder, “How complete are the forms? What types of questions are asked? Are there any other materials in the files?” This group’s forms are reasonably complete, with questions and answers that I think will interest the public; there are also some photographs of the schools to add interest to primarily textual records. The range of responses and the inclusion of images make me think this would be a good digitization project to suggest.
Before I digitize these records for access, I make sure that there are corresponding online descriptions available. I need a proper descriptive record to attach the digitized images to, and those records are usually created by an archivist. Fortunately, the appropriate level of descriptive work for GR-0461 has already been done in AtoM, and that makes this project more likely to be approved by my manager.
That is the informal process I go through when I consider a candidate for digitization. I think about what will interest researchers, about the extent and condition of the records (to keep the project within a manageable size), and about how much descriptive work will be required in order to provide digital access online. GR-0461 meets all these conditions, and has been added to my list of proposed digitization projects. If all goes well, the forms in GR-0461, Teachers’ Bureau Records, will be online for users to access.
One of the pleasures of working in the archives is the opportunity to pull out a box of records and examine the records inside. It’s a bit like opening a gift from the past. You never know what sort of discoveries or connections await within. When I had a few minutes recently, I sat down with Box 1 of GR-0461, Teachers’ Bureau Records, and browsed through it. In those few minutes, I learned a lot about the conditions faced in some of British Columbia’s rural and assisted schools in the 1920s.
The Teachers’ Bureau acted as an employment exchange by gathering information about the schools and districts, and by conveying information about vacancies and the schools to prospective applicants. The records in GR-0461 consist of School District Information Forms—questionnaires that were distributed to rural school teachers in 1923 and 1928. This set of records is not entirely complete. There were 684 rural and assisted schools in 1923, but only 651 completed forms exist from that year. In 1928, there were 728 schools, but there are only 711 completed forms.
Those who completed and returned the School District Information Forms to the Teachers’ Bureau left a very useful tool for examining working conditions for teachers in the 1920s. The more remote the community, the more likely the teacher was to experience loneliness and isolation. The living conditions at Big Bar Upper School in the school district of Lillooet were described as “Isolated and lonely. Crude pioneer homes. Very little money to be had.”[i] Similar sentiments are expressed by many of the teachers. Living conditions at the Copper Creek Station School were tersely described as “Absent” — a case of “create your own world.” Boarding and lodging options there were “very limited and unattractive.”[ii] Some of the “additional remarks” on the forms indicate the skills necessary for success. “This school requires a strict fearless teacher; and one who is impervious to dismay.”[iii] So wrote the teacher at Big Bar in 1923, Gerald S. Andrews. That name may ring a bell for those familiar with BC history and our archival records—Gerald S. Andrews was later to become the Surveyor General for British Columbia.
Perhaps Dorothy A. Clarke of North Dawson Creek said it best in her additional remarks: “Teachers labor under great difficulties in this country, as the settlers are very poor and they find it exceedingly hard to make a bare living for themselves. Consequently it is really hard to get any money together for school purposes. I do not think it wise to encourage young and inexperienced teachers of either sex to come in here to any of the schools.”[iv] Such were the conditions in the rural and remote schools of British Columbia during the 1920s.
[i] GR-0461, Box 1, File 1.
[ii] GR-0461, Box 1, File 2.
[iii] GR-0461, Box 1, File 1.
[iv] GR-0461, Box 1, File 3.
I really like this film sequence for what it reveals about women’s roles in the paid workforce. So much footage of this period focuses on the work of men. Women, when they are shown, are invariably depicted in the domestic sphere, caring for the needs and the comfort of their families. So it is unusual to have this insight into the world of work outside the home.
This work is obviously physically demanding; these women don’t have desk jobs. They would need to be strong, capable of standing all day operating equipment, and of working in a hot and humid environment. I was struck by how all the female workers wore uniforms to work in the laundry. I wonder if the employees were required to purchase the uniforms or whether they were supplied by their employer.
Vancouver filmmaker Alfred E. Booth (1892-1977) shot footage of various businesses in the Kamloops area. It isn’t clear if these businesses hired him to do this or if he was working on his own initiative—shooting the footage with the hope of being able to sell it to the business owner. Loose strips of title frames attached to this compilation may indicate the titles of proposed or completed films related to this and other footage: “Kamloops – the Hub City of B.C, and on into the Spectacular Clearwater Country”; “Lake and River Fishing for the Sporty Kamloops Trout”; “By Packhorse and Canoe beyond the Scenic North Thompson River”. He may have had a larger project in mind. These segments of footage, including the White Way excerpt have been preserved in the archives as part of the Alfred E. Booth fonds. This sequence is part of the archival compilation reel “[Kamloops] : [footage and out-takes]“.
Each of the recipes is clustered around a common carbohydrate: “Take a can of Clover Leaf Pink Salmon and _____”. You filled in the blank with your choice of carbohydrate — biscuit dough, bread crumbs, pastry, potatoes, rice, cracker crumbs, or macaroni. They are simple recipes with few ingredients, and they rely on processed foods such as canned vegetables, canned shoestring potatoes, and the (infamous) canned cream of mushroom soup.
I find the inclusion of the price per serving instructive. Many of the dishes cost less than 25 cents per serving; the per-serving cost ranges from a low of 9 cents for “Salmon Potato Cakes” to a whopping 28 cents for the “Skillet Supper”. The convenience of canned salmon, and the fact that cans could be stored safely without need for refrigeration, probably made the product attractive to the consumer. I don’t know how many women would have prepared the more elaborate salmon dishes demonstrated in Part 1’s filmed cooking class, but my own experience in the early sixties attests to the fact that middle-class mothers really did make salmon fish cakes and salmon loaf as regular dinner offerings.
The recipes included in this pamphlet are far more practical than those presented onscreen in the film Silver Harvest. The Salmon Potato Cakes, for example, were probably a standard reliable main dish on many Canadian dinner tables. They were quick to prepare and cook, utilized a common leftover (mashed potatoes), and could easily be stretched to accommodate an extra person at supper. In my childhood, they appeared for supper with astonishing regularity. While they weren’t my favourite dish, I knew that there were far worse horrors that could appear in their place.
When I worked in the archives’ reference room, providing access to materials like this little pamphlet, I always felt that a key value in our archival records was that they allow us to reconnect with the past. Sometimes that past is a more general historical past — and sometimes is part of our own very personal past.
The Webster! Show on BCTV had several opening sequences through its nine season run.
The longest running version seems to tell a story:
Our intrepid reporter meets his long suffering assistant, Brian Coxford, to do a little bit of ambulance chasing. Having collected the film crew they head to the scene, and then visit the hospital to interview the victim and the people that saved his life.
Thanks to a visual cue and the information from a very helpful person, the scene can now be set.
The 1980 season added this master shot at the end of the intro.
Here is the screen grab:
Webster is standing on the corner of Hornby and Georgia.
Here is the discussion of the “tip” The Vancouver Art Gallery grounds are in the background.
And off they go to the scene of the accident.
Where the scene is set:
The police control the scene.
The patient is treated.
And taken away.
Afterwards, Webster interviews various people at the hospital.
But Where Oh Where was the scene of the accident?
My thanks to Greg Firth of Redden Net Custom Nets Limited who helped clarify things:
Yes that is at 1638 W. third what you see in the background is the truck with the logo on it.
He writes later
“That was Redden Net head office at that time. Truck was parked in the loading bay.”
The loading bay clue was the final piece of the puzzle.
Vancouver is renowned for its alleyways. The scene of the accident was not on West Third, it was in the alley between Third and Fourth!
And now, the present day scene.
Where the scene is set.
The police control the scene.
The patient is treated.
And taken away.
My Thanks again to Greg Firth.
According to Elisa Newton, another helpful person at this company, Redden Net has now expanded to three companies:
The BC Archives recently acquired two photographs of Yukon Joe. They were taken around 1950 by Kenneth Katzalay on the John Hart Highway near Prince George. Katzalay was working for the RCMP at that time and some local cabins had been broken in to recently. Although a man walking down the highway carrying a rifle wasn’t a particular concern then, when Katzalay saw Joe, he took a few photos of him, apparently just to let him know that he was keeping an eye on him. As this was 60 years before the invention of iphones, he used his camera loaded with ANSCO colour slide film.
The slides and the story were handed down to Katzalay’s daughter who brought the slides in earlier this year.
I was really excited to acquire these two photographs. Although Yukon Joe was well known in the Prince George area for his prospecting and his painting, there are very few records either about him or created by him. We do have his smoke scented diary, called “Prospectors diary book of the adventurs” which the BC Archives purchased in 1963 for $75. See an image of the diary here: http://royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/100/object/yukon-joes-diary/
In 2010 we were lucky enough to acquire one of his paintings; it was found in a thrift store by a Prince George resident and donated to the Archives. We also have two unusual photographs taken around 1962 which, although taken outside, are strangely posed and taken for unknown reasons.
The two slides from 1950 are the earliest photographs I’ve seen of Joe. In them, you can see his dogs, his gold pan and rifle. Although the colour has faded over the years, the red of his cap and jacket are still apparent.
Our photographer Shane, did a beautiful job of copying the slides and they are available for viewing in our online catalogue. Search for “Yukon Joe” in our catalogue to see descriptions of all the records by or about him.
Jack Webster was an icon of Vancouver and British Columbia News reporting.
His legacy includes video recordings of his entire Webster! show which aired on BCTV (CHAN – Channel 8) for nine seasons from 02 Oct 1978 through 03 Apr 1987.
Shortly after the last show aired, Jack Webster and BCTV* donated the videos for all his shows to the BC Archives.
The show originally aired from 9AM through 10:30AM on BCTV. For a period of years a half hour excerpt was rebroadcast on Victoria’s CHEK Channel Six at midnight.
The final regularly scheduled 90 minute show was broadcast on 27 Mar 1986. The last season of Webster! was reduced to one hour and moved to the 5PM broadcast slot.
Long before then the iconic phrase that Jack Webster used to announce upcoming shows was embedded into the cultural memory of BC’s news junkies.
Prior to each show a one hour U-matic tape began recording for the entire hour. It was swapped out at 10AM for a 30 minute tape. At the end of the show, they were labeled by the date and recording order. If special guests or events occurred during the show they were identified for possible future use.
One such note even used Webster’s famous phrase to identify the cue .
The Royal BC Museum is in the process of digitizing a large portion of these shows. Part of the process involves editing the original one hour and thirty minute videos and combining them into a cohesive whole.
No-one tended to the original recordings while the show was on the air. Because of this, the recording included the off air time as the commercials were airing. In most cases, sound engineers turned off the stage microphones. On occasion they were turned on for a brief time to check sound levels and the like. In other cases, upcoming video segments or title cards were cued up for use in future segments of the show.
The Royal BC Museum maintains digital master copies of the entire recordings as part of the Archiving process. Making these shows available to the public involves an editing process which removes the dead air time (where nothing is recorded on the original video) while ensuring that the on air portion, as well as the material recorded during the commercial breaks, is captured in its entirety.
One example that shows how helpful this can be is in the episode that ended the 1981-1982 broadcast season. The 02 Apr 1982 show begins with an hour long interview with Premier Bill Bennett. The final segment of the interview begins with Jack Webster smiling at something before he takes a telephone call for the premier. The off air recording shows what the cause of the smile was.
This was in preparation for the final part of the show which can be seen here.
Another example where knowing what happened off air is useful occurred during the lead up to Expo 86. As a corporate Sponsor, BCTV was closing each Webster! Show with a “Number of days to go” countdown. It appears the recording of the announcer used for this particular day’s segment was unavailable. This clip shows the preparation and result.
You can now watch an “ever expanding list” of Webster! episodes which includes “never before seen or heard” “behind the scenes” parts of the show. Simply visit the Royal BC Museum YouTube channel and click on the Webster! Playlist.
*Officially donated by Jack Webster Productions Ltd. and British Columbia Television Broadcasting System Ltd. – acquisition notes.
Image I-03188, Aerial view of new Archives building, ca. 1977. “Spirit” in pond.
In 1965 the Department of Public Works began to build the complex known as Heritage Court at the corner of Government and Belleville Streets in Victoria. Heritage Court was built using Federal and Provincial Centennial funds to provide facilities for both the new Provincial Museum and the Provincial Archives of British Columbia.
Early in the planning stage it was decided that the site should contain works of art by British Columbia artists done in the general design theme of “Man and Nature”. A sub-committee chose 28 works including screens and murals, carved wooden building doors and massive works of sculpture.
Four of the exterior sculptured pieces still stand today and I am lucky enough to be able to see one of them from my office window.
This piece is called “Spirit” and it was created and cast in bronze by Elza Mayhew in 1964. It was displayed at the Venice Biennale in the Canadian Pavilion and then made its way back to British Columbia via exhibits at Ottawa and Prince Edward Island.
I haven’t been able to track down exactly when it was finally installed in the Archives pond, but it was probably around 1971.
Before reaching the pond, “Spirit” spent some time in Elza Mayhew’s studio and was one of her many pieces that provided the basis for a paper rubbing. The rubbings were done by Isamu Akino, a Japanese artist who created them by laying pieces of wet Japanese paper on the front, back and tops of the sculptures. The paper was then formed around the relief portions of the sculpture and rubbed with charcoal or some other agent, to produce a raised paper cast. Once dry, the paper rubbing was mounted onto a paper and wood frame.
We were recently lucky enough to acquire a mounted rubbing showing the front view of “Spirit”. This generous gift from the Mayhew family has given us a new view of the beautiful bronze sculpture more than 50 years after its creation.
My colleagues Kay (Preservation Specialist) and Cindy (Exhibit Fabrication Specialist) have designed and created a special padded aluminum rail and clip system to safely hold the work in the art vault.
I have described the rubbing as PDP10261 and you can see it in the BC Archives collections search here:
Here are some more examples of Corporate Christmas cards taken from 920334-0001 (Vertical files).
This one is from the Bank of Montreal in Nelson, B.C. The front of the card consists of the Bank of Montreal coat of arms but inside there’s a charming woodcut print showing Arthur H. Buchanan striding manfully through the snow to help bring the Nelson branch of the bank to the people.
Next is a beautiful colour drawing of a BC Hydro generating station. I can’t tell if this is taken from a real site or if it’s more of an artist’s representation of what the new BC Hydro sites were going to look like. The card is signed by Hugh Keenleyside for BC Hydro and Power Authority and is dated 1968. Perhaps this generating station was intended for the High Arrow Dam near Castlegar? Since the dam was later named the Keenleyside dam, it’s seems fitting.
Update January 19, 2016:
My colleague Dennis Duffy pointed out that this is actually the Gordon Shrum generating station at the W.A.C. Bennett dam. An Ottawa Citizen news story from last year has a nice photo, see http://www.ottawacitizen.com/Gordon+Shrum+generating+station+Bennett+capable+generating+megawatts+electricity+peak+capacity/10862165/story.html
Hugh Armstrong of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway sent this next card to the Press Gallery. The image on the front of the card seems to suggest that the PGE was a real people’s train, connecting with those living in the hinterland, especially at Christmas.
And finally a local Victoria bookstore sent out some lovely Christmas cards that also worked as an advertisement. Included in each card was a piece of history, a page from a real book to enjoy at your leisure. The Haunted Bookshop moved from Victoria to Sidney a few years ago and it’s still a charming place to visit.
At this time of year we often receive Christmas and other holiday cards from banks, shops, newspapers and other businesses.
The BC Archives is lucky enough to have a nice little collection of Christmas cards mostly saved by the local journalist and historian James K. Nesbitt. These cards lived for a time in our vertical (clipping) files. When the files were microfilmed in the 1980s, material not suitable for filming was removed and some of that material ended up in a box of files that we have saved in container 920334-0001.
There are some good examples of Corporate Christmas cards in the files and I’ve scanned a few to show the range.
The Vancouver Sun cards from the 1960s and 70s were quite inventive. I like this one, partly because the RBCM has a Jack Harman sculpture on its premises but also because it’s just an amusing image. The Sun’s publisher Stuart Keate had a whimsical sense of humour and he sent Nesbitt quite a few interesting cards.
Here’s one from the Canadian Bank of Commerce in Victoria, probably from the late 19th century. The outside is elegant and plain but inside you can see the list of staff, perhaps in order of rank, as well as a photograph of the inside of the bank. They didn’t quite grasp the concept of laying out a card with all the elements oriented in the same direction or maybe the printer was rushed.
Another one from the 19th century. I’m not sure what business this card represents because there is nothing on the back. It’s on a small sturdy piece of card, perhaps intended for use as a beer mat after the holidays…
More Corporate cards to come.
THE VICTORIA GAZETTE 25 November 1858 p.1
LETTER FROM NEW FORT LANGLEY.
Installation of the Government of British Columbia.
New Fort Langley, 20th November 1858.
Editors Gazette: – Yesterday, the birthday of British Columbia, was ushered in by a steady rain which continued perseveringly throughout the whole day, and in a great measure marred the solemnity of the proclamation of the Colony. His Excellency, Gov. Douglas, with a suite comprising Rear Admiral Baynes, (commanding the naval forces on the Pacific Station) Mr. Cameron, the respected Chief Justice of Vancouver Island; Mr. Begbie, the newly appointed Judge of British Columbia, Mr. Lira, and others, proceeded on board H.M. ship Satellite, Capt. Provost, on Wednesday morning by the Canal de Haro to Point Roberts, where His excellency remained during the night. On Thursday morning His Excellency and suite were conveyed by the Hudson Bay Company’s screw steamer Otter to the Company’s steamship Beaver, which was lying moored within the mouth of Fraser river. Both vessels then proceeded in company as far as Old Fort Langley, where the Otter disembarked a party of eighteen sappers under the command of Capt. Parsons, who immediately embarked in the Recovery revenue cutter, joining the command of Capt. Grant, R.E., who had previously reached the point with a party of the same corps. Both these gallant officers have recently arrived from England with small parties of men under their command. The Beaver then proceeded with His Excellency aboard to New Fort Langley, where preparations were made for the ceremonial of the following day.
On Friday morning, the 19th inst., His Excellency, accompanied by his suite, and received by a guard of honor commanded by Capt. Grant, disembarked on the wet loamy bank of the Fort, and the procession proceeded up the steep bank which leads to the palisade. Arrived there, a salute of 18 guns commenced pealing from the Beaver, awakening all the echoes of the opposite mountains. In another moment the flag of Britain was floating, or to speak the truth, dripped over the principal entrance. Owing to the unpropitious state of the weather, the meeting which was intended to have been held in the open air was convened in the large room at the principal building. About 100 persons were present.
The ceremonies were commenced by His Excellency addressing Mr. Begbie, and delivering to him Her Majesty’s commission as Judge in the Colony of British Columbia. Mr. Begbie then took the oath of allegiance and the usual oaths on taking office, and then, addressing His Excellency took up her Majesty’s Commission appointing the Governor, and proceeded to read it at length. Mr. Begbie then administered to Governor Douglas the usual oaths of office, viz.: allegiance, abjuration, &c. His Excellency being thus duly appointed and sworn in, proceeded to issue the Proclamation of the same date (19th instant) viz.: one proclaiming the act; a second, indemnifying all the officers of the Government from any irregularities which may have been committed in the interval before the proclamation of the Act; and a third, proclaiming English Law to be the Law of the Colony. The reading of these was preceded by His Excellency’s Proclamation of the 3rd inst., setting forth the Revocation by Her Majesty of all the exclusive privileges of the Hudson Bay Company. The proceedings then terminated. On leaving the Fort, which His Excellency did not finally do until to-day, another salute of 17 guns was fired from the battlements, with even grander effect than the salute of the previous day.
On leaving the river side, in front of the town, a number of the inhabitants were assembled with whom His Excellency entered into conversation previous to embarking on board the Beaver, and by whom he was loudly cheered in very good style as he was on his way to the steamer. VIATOR
Great resource for anyone working with various types of museum or archival collections including digital.
On Tuesday October 27th myself and a co-worker attended our first ever BC Museums Association conference…and we also had to give a daunting 90 minute presentation! Luckily for us the attendees were a great group of supportive colleagues who seemed really engaged and at the end they asked many questions (and we were able to answer them all)! The presentation was about our Transcribe site which allows the public anywhere in the world to look at our images of old letters and diaries and transcribe them so the handwritten documents become machine readable – in other words searchable through the search function on our Transcribe page. Check out our collections online and maybe you’ll want to transcribe, but I warn you it gets pretty addictive!
As you may already have discovered, advanced search is not just an upgraded basic search. Basic search has features which are lacking in advanced search and which may make it a preferred option depending on your search and on your display preferences.
Basic search is accessed from the search box (shown below) found on the top right hand corner of almost all the search pages.
Advanced search is accessed by clicking on the link below the basic search box (see above) and looks like this.
WHAT DO THEY HAVE IN COMMON?
When you enter more than one term into a search box, be it the basic search box or one of the advanced search boxes, the terms are searched separately, i.e. only one of the terms needs to be present in the record descriptions, although they may contain more than one or even all of the terms. This is a default OR search. To require that all terms be present the AND operator must be used between terms. For an exact match (phrase search) use quotation marks.
Boolean operators within a search box must be in uppercase: AND, OR, NOT. Complex search logic can be used in any search box, basic or advanced, as well as wild cards (* and ?).
Other than the Identifier field in Advanced Search, it does not matter whether upper or lower case, or both, is used.
Only one filter in each filter category can be selected.
Fifty (50) record descriptions per page are displayed. The bottom of each page, if there are more than 50, shows what range of record descriptions is being displayed.
When an individual record description is clicked the full display is the same regardless of whether basic or advanced search is used.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES?
•Cannot search specific fields – all searchable fields are searched
•Cannot limit search to a specific material type (e.g. textual records, graphic material [visual records], moving images) – all material types are searched
•Type-ahead feature shows possible matches, including those in the Names, Places and Subjects lists.as well as in the descriptions, with the option of selecting one of the matches by clicking on it. (Note: currently this does not always work for the Names, Places, and Subjects but it can be useful to see what comes up.)
•Can search by one or more pre-defined fields, e.g. Title, Name, Identifier, as well as all fields, i.e “Any field” which functions the same as a basic search (note: some searchable fields can only be searched in an “Any fields” search, e.g. the General notes field.)
•Can limit search – before it is executed – to a specific level of description, to a specific material type, and/or to descriptions with digital images attached (see Filters below).
•Filters only display after a search is executed, and provide a breakdown by name, with the number of search results each is linked to.
•Clicking on a filter automatically limits search results to those meeting that criterion. Clicking on a filter in another category automatically further limits the search results.
•Can limit to top-level descriptions regardless of level (everything that is not linked to a higher-level description such as fonds, series and even some items) as well as by specific level.
•Can filter by name of creator (top 10 only).
•Can set search filters before a search is executed as well as after a search but must click on Search button to redo search.
•Cannot limit a search to top-level descriptions as a category. Clicking on the box shows a drop down list of mostly fonds and some series descriptions.
•Filters are by type. A drop-down list of all possible options is displayed for each category. Clicking on an option may yield zero results.
•There is no post-search breakdown by for each category type.
•Search results can be limited to descriptions with digital objects attached.
•Subject, name and place are search fields rather than filters.
•The total number of results is displayed at the top of each display page, together with the search term(s) and the number of digital objects with an option to display only the digital objects, as shown in this example.
•No print icon on results page but can use browser print function.
•The search box(es) with search term(s) and logic display at top of the search results on each results page.
•The total number of search results only displays if there are more than 50 hits, i.e. more than one page. This displays at the bottom of the page.
•A print icon appears on the results page.
WHEN TO USE BASIC SEARCH AND WHEN TO USE ADVANCED SEARCH
I find the basic search useful when I am interested in a breakdown by description level to get a sense of the number of higher or lower level record descriptions and quickly view the results for each level. The same applies, to a certain extent to the people, organizations, subjects and places involved. However, since only 10 are displayed, if there are more than 10, those of interest may not display.
The type-ahead feature can also be useful in seeing what pops up in terms of possible search terms.
The results display shows me right away how many results there are and how many have digital objects attached. At the moment this means primarily images but textual records, sound recordings and video is also being added. If the number of images in the filter column (Media types) is less than the number of digital objects, clicking on the images filter will quickly bring them up.
I use advanced search for the following types of searches:
I am looking for something very specific and searching by field(s) will eliminate irrelevant results, e.g. a certain television episode such as the Webster episode on the archives. A basic search on WEBSTER AND ARCHIVES produces 1300 hits (the same number of results as an Any field search) whereas limiting webster to the Name field and archives to the Subject field yields one.
I am looking for only certain material types, e.g. sound recordings or moving images.
I want to limit my search to only higher level descriptions (usually the series level to access the pdf finding aid found in many series level descriptions) or to only item or file level descriptions.
I am searching by call/catalogue (aka Identifier) numbers and don’t want to be bothered to enclose them in quotation marks, especially if there are more than a few. I also only want the highest level description, not all the lower level descriptions which are produced when a basic search is executed, e.g. the latter yields over 3000 hits for a search on “gr-1372” while an Identifier search on GR-1372 yields only 1 record, the series level description with the finding aid.
Ultimately the search method choice is up to you and what works best for the kind of searches you are doing. For more information about basic and advanced searches see the Search Guide.
Some 20 years ago the BC Archives launched its first remote electronic access to information about and images of its historical visual records. Searchable textual records descriptions and vital records indexes were subsequently added, as well as a library catalogue, sound recording descriptions, moving image descriptions and a cartographic records catalogue. The site was expanded and upgraded in 2002 but ultimately it began to show its age and limitations. Technology had advanced and it was decided that a new collections management system and online interface were not only desirable but necessary.
Now the “blue and white” search site that has served researchers around the world almost as long as Internet Explorer has been around, and longer than Google, is being retired, having hung on long enough to see its successor launched. Our tech people are surprised that the UNIX server it lives on has lasted this long. As of today, when you try to access the old site you will be redirected to the new search site. It is far from perfect, but so was the old site, especially in its first few years. Please be patient and give it a chance and if you have questions or comments do not hesitate to contact us.