CHARLES VAN SANWYCK ANIMAL WISDOMUBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections Presents: 

An Afternoon with Charles van Sandwyk

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

12:00 p.m-1:30 p.m.

Dodson Room (Rm 302), Irving K. Barber Learning Centre

University of British Columbia

Free Admission. Open to the public.
Refreshments served.
Book sales by Joyce Williams Gallery.

For more information, please contact RBSC: 604-822-2521

Charles van Sandwyk and the Children’s Literary Tradition is currently on display at UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections. The exhibition is free and open to the public Monday-Friday (10:00-4:00pm) and Saturdays (12:00-5:00pm). In addition to works by Charles van Sandwyk, there will be items on display by Walter Crane, Arthur Rackham, and Beatrix Potter.

The curator, Kristy Woodcock, will be offering informal tours of the exhibition. Public tours can be arranged by calling RBSC (604-822-2521). 

Beyond our personal reservations regarding evangelism and the missionary enterprise, Emma Crosby Letters collection is exceptionally interesting because it lets us see two very different perspectives on how women lived in the 19th century and on their personal struggles. On one side, we can see how the gender limitations of the time made it impossible for well-to-do women in Canada to pursue a missionary career unless they married a missionary man, and on the other we get a glimpse of what the missionary teachings meant to the Aboriginal girls subjected to them.

The daughter of a Methodist minister in Ontario, Emma Crosby studied at Hamilton’s Wesleyan Female College and became a teacher. She was in her mid-twenties when she attended a lecture by Thomas Crosby on the importance of teaching the “savages” the Christian ways. He was then working as a missionary in British Columbia and needed a wife. As for Emma, she was looking for a missionary husband, so the deal was soon signed and started a strong marriage that ended with his death in 1914, after 23 years spent among the Tsimshian people. Thanks to Emma’s granddaughter and great-granddaughter’s donation to UBC’s Special Collections Division, we can now read the letters Emma exchanged with her mother and her husband from 1874 to 1892, as well as those sent between Thomas Crosby and the Port Simpson people.

One of the many letters Emma wrote to her mother, this one from 1879.

One of the many letters Emma wrote to her mother, this one from 1879.

Isolated in a small Tsimshian community on British Columbia’s northern coast, Emma Crosby both assisted her husband in all of his responsibilities as a missionary and replaced him in most mission activities when he was away in his ship, the Glad Tidings, reaching out to communities as far away as Alaska. Thomas, now considered by some as one of the most important Methodist missionaries in Canada, was fast to recognize that Emma was a big part of his missionary work in the far north. On top of helping her husband, Emma taught at the mission day school and originated a girls’ residential school in 1880, when this system was coming to existence across the country. In the meantime, she gave birth to eight children, only four of whom survived.

Many Aboriginal girls came into Emma’s care, mostly because they had no other choice, and while they helped Emma to maintain her home and take care of her children—allowing her to tackle her mission activities—they were evangelized and trained to maintain a “civilized”, Victorian home. The living arrangements of these girls and of many others changed in 1880, when the residential school was built. Although this ‘Home’ was supposed to be a safe place where the girls would be protected and taught the Christian faith, it soon became a place of confinement with harsh rules preparing the girls for submission to their future husbands.

This unprecedented collection of letters (transcribed for the reader’s benefit) will surely answer many questions, but will also give rise to many others. To answer those new ones you can turn to Good Intentions Gone Awry, by Jan Hare and Jean Barman (, a volume you can find in the UBC Library or read online through the library’s portal.

Today back in 1887, patent #371,496 issued for the “comptometer,” the first adding machine “absolutely accurate at all times.” It was invented by Dorr Eugene Felt of Chicago; a model was constructed in 1884.

From MAA – On This Day in Math

a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

UBC Library





Emergency Procedures | Accessibility | Contact UBC | © Copyright The University of British Columbia

Spam prevention powered by Akismet