UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) is pleased to present “‘The Iron Pulpit’: Missionary Printing Presses in British Columbia.” Featuring materials produced on missionary printing presses in British Columbia between the 1850s and 1910s, this exhibition situates its subject in contexts of Indigenous-Christian encounter, colonialism, and print culture in the province.

The exhibition, until December 8, 2012, is located in RBSC, on level one of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, and is open to the public Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm, and Saturday, 12pm to 5pm.

A PDF of the exhibition catalogue, which includes an introductory essay, detailed item descriptions, and a checklist of extant missionary printing press imprints, is available here.

“‘The Iron Pulpit’” was curated by Alicia Fahey (PhD Student, Department of English) and Chelsea Horton (PhD Candidate, Department of History).

From August 1-31, 2012 please visit UBC’s Rare Books and Special Collections exhibition entitled Secret Wisdom of the West Coast: Esoteric and Occult practice in British Columbia. Curated by Karen Meijer-Kline, a graduate of the Universiteit van Amsterdam with a Master of Arts degree in Mysticism & Western Esotericism and a current student in the Masters of Library, Archival, and Informations Studies program at UBC, this exhibition will introduce you to a world many of you probably never dreamed existed here in our very own rainy city.

The historical and sociological study of esotericism and occultism is a growing field, as is shown by the emergence of academic programs, conferences and journals focussed on the subject all over the Western world. Close to home, Simon Fraser University’s department of Humanities has recently offered a course on the history of Western Esotericism. Study in this field looks at topics such as magic, alchemy, astrology, Rosicrucianism, Kabbalah, Freemasonry, Theosophy, Spiritualism, New Age, Neopaganism, and the like. These topics, and the people that studied and practiced them, have been and are very influential in history, even though in the past they have been rarely studied. Here at Rare Books and Special Collections, we realized that there are many works in our collection that are related to these topics, and yet: almost no-one knows about them. We decided to delve deeper into the history and practice of esoteric currents in British Columbia, in order to show you some of the very intriguing things that have happened, and still happen in our province!

For many years, Vancouver has been home to several prominent figures in esoteric history, and centre for many esoteric and occult groups. For example, the North Shore was home to Charles Stansfeld Jones, better known as Frater Achad, who was considered the magical child of Aleister Crowley: the most notorious magician of the 20th century. Jones and Malcolm Lowry were friends, and Lowry’s personal library held many fascinating esoteric works, many by Jones or Crowley.
On display at Rare Books and Special Collections will be works that are fundamental to esoteric thought, and esoteric works that have an interesting connection to major figures or organizations in British Columbia. Many might know that Malcolm Lowry had a long standing interest in the occult, and that Robin Skelton was a practicing witch. But did you also know that Alexander Maitland Stephens, the prominent Marxist and poet, was the head of a Theosophical lodge in downtown Vancouver? That there was a Rosicrucian temple in Vancouver? Or that there have been thriving Freemasonic lodges in British Columbia since 1860?

If you would like to see the exhibition, located in the reading room, you can do so until August 31st, from Monday to Friday 10am-4pm. The exhibition is free and open to all members of the public.

If you are unable to visit the exhibition, a pdf version of the exhibition guide is available.

The opening hours will be reduced in RBSC / University Archives effective July 30 – August 31. During this time period, RBSC (including the Chung Room) / UA will be open to the public from 10am – 4pm Monday – Friday. Please direct any RBSC-related questions to rare.books@ubc.ca . Please contact Chris Hives with any concerns about University Archives accessibility.

In 2002, Queen Elizabeth II became the second-longest reigning monarch in British history, celebrating 50 years on the British throne. Despite the deaths of her sister, Princess Margaret and her mother, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, in February and March of 2002 respectively, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Phillip, undertook an international tour in which she “express[ed] her thanks to people, both personally and officially, for their support and loyalty over her reign.

Image of Queen Elizabeth II greeting UBC students in 2002, featured on the commemoration wall in the Golden Jubilee Room


For more information on Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip’s tour, please refer to the official website of the British Monarchy, where the details of the 2002 tour are discussed.

As part of that tour, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip visited the University of British Columbia in October, 2002. They had visited Canada the campus three times before, in 1951, 1959 and 1983. To view digitized photographs of their previous visits, please take a look at the University Archives virtual display, Royal Visits to the UBC Campus

During her 2002 visit to UBC, the Queen unveiled a plaque commemorating her visit and celebrating the naming of a room on the fourth floor of the Irving K Barber Learning Centre, the Golden Jubilee Room.

Plaque commemorating Queen Elizabeth II's visit to UBc


This room is a very popular study space, with mountain and ocean views.

Golden Jubilee Room, Irving K Barber Learning Centre


By Glenn Drexhage

UBC Library is hosting an exhibition and conference to commemorate the March 11, 2011 disasters in Japan. Retell, Rethink, Recover, which begins on February 20 and runs through April, consists of three phases on display in different parts of the Library system.

The Retell section highlights disaster prints and historical maps. All materials are from the Library’s exceptional Tokugawa maps collection, housed at Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC).

Rethink includes materials gathered from members of the UBC community who were in Japan during the disasters, or otherwise impacted. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant incident is discussed, and photos and social media archives figure prominently.

Recover features items from UBC’s Asian Library collection, as well as contributions from community members and alumni. This section highlights Japan’s history of recovering from adversity, and includes information on the support between Canada and Japan during times of crisis.

A complementary display will also feature portraits of earthquake survivors, a project sponsored by the Japan Foundation and Shiseido, the cosmetics company.

On March 10, a free one-day conference co-sponsored by UBC’s Department of Asian Studies will feature talks from scholars on Japan, and personal accounts from UBC students, faculty and alumni. This conference will be held from 10am to 4pm in the Dodson Room, in the Irving K Barber Learning Centre.

Read more about Retell, Rethink, Recover in the March 2012 issue of UBC Reports.

Please visit the event site to register and for more information.

As previously mentioned in our blog posts on British Columbia place names, many rooms in the Irving K Barber Learning Centre are named after rivers in British Columbia.

This week, we are exploring the history of the Nicola River, after which room 322, a group study room, is named after. According to BC Geographical Names , the Nicola River, one of the major tributaries of the Thompson River, was named after a Nlaka’pamux (Thompson River Salish) chief named Hwistesmexe’quen, or “walking grizzly bear.” According to the third edition of British Columbia Place Names, Hwistesmexe’quen (1785?-1865) was recognized by the fur traders as “the most powerful and influential chief in the Southern Interior of British Columbia” (pg. 190). The French-speaking fur traders nicknamed him “Nicolas” which Hwistesmexe’quen’s people pronounced “Nicolas” first as Nkwala, and eventually as Nicola.

Located in the South-Central Interior of British Columbia, the Nicola River was first mapped by Alexander Caulfield Anderson (1814-1884), on his manuscript map of 1849. On the map, the Nicola Lake and Nicola River are shown as “Lac de Nicolas” and “R.Nicolas.” The British Columbia (B.C.) Archives holds a copy of this map, in the archives of Anderson, a Hudson’s Bay Company fur trader. Many unique items, such as Anderson’s manuscript map, are held by the B.C. Archives. The B.C. Archives is an important place to visit if you are planning on doing research into the history of British Columbia; since 1894, the archivists in the BC Archives have collected and provided access to the records of the Provincial government. In addition to visiting the Archives, you may wish to plan a visit to the Research Library, which holds over 70,000 rare and unique items documenting the exploration and development of British Columbia.

If you are interested in learning more about Anderson, and his mapping of the province, including the area that that the Nicola River runs through, you may wish to attend the next meeting of the Historical Map Society of British Columbia. On February 6, 2012, Nancy Maguerite Anderson, the great-grandaughter of A.C. Anderson, will be speaking about her book, The Pathfinder: A.C Anderson’s Journeys in the West (Heritage House Publishers, 2011). The Historical Map Society of British Columbia meets at 7:00 p.m. in the Chilcotin Board Room (room 256), in the Irving K Barber Learning Centre.

Nancy’s blog, Fur Trade Family History, is a rich resource of information relating to the history of British Columbia. For example, see her entry on the mapping of the Nicola River and Valley; in addition to providing an overview of Anderson’s mapping of the area, she provides many photographs of the Nicola Valley today.  

The Bralorne Reading Room (room 490 in the School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies, Irving K Barber Learning Centre) is named after the town of Bralorne, a gold mining community in the Bridge River District, 125 kilometers west of the town of Lillooet.

Image credit: Bralorne minesite on the Cadwallader creek, 1935 (courtesy Bralorne-Pioneer Museum)

Image credit: Bralorne minesite on the Cadwallader creek, 1935 (courtesy Bralorne-Pioneer Museum)


In 1897, three gold prospectors staked claims at what became the Bralorne Mining site: the Lorne, Marquis, and the Golden King claims. From 1897 to 1931, various people worked in the mines. Among those people was Arthur Noel, a prospector and his wife, Delina. Together, they owned and worked in the Lorne mine from 1916 to 1928, making $160,000 (Bralorne-Pioneer Museum)
Image credit: Bralorne gold bricks (courtesy Bralorne-Pioneer Museum)

Image credit: Bralorne gold bricks (courtesy Bralorne-Pioneer Museum)


In 1931, the mine was purchased by Bralco Development and Investment Company. Austin Cottrell Taylor, the owner of Bralco, renamed the mine Bralorne mine. From March 1932 to 1971, the mine, made up of the Bralorne, King and Pioneer mines, was “the largest historic gold producer in the Canadian Cordillera producing 4.1 million ounces of gold” (Bralorne Gold Mine Ltd.).

Image credit: Bralorne-Pioneer Gold Mine History (courtsey of Bralorne Pioneer Museum Flickr Photostream)

Image credit: Bralorne-Pioneer Gold Mine History (courtsey of Bralorne Pioneer Museum Flickr Photostream)

During the 39 years that the mine was in operation, a large town developed to support the hundreds of people who worked in the mine. There are a number of publications in the UBC Library collection on Bralorne (see, for example, Bridge River Gold), however, the Bralorne Pioneer Museum offers the best selection of resources. It was formed in 1977 with the mandate to preserve the history of the Bridge River Valley which consists of several small communities: Bralorne, Gold Bridge, Gun Creek, Gun Lake, Tyax Lake and Marshall Lake.

If you are unable to visit the museum in person, check out the Bralorne-Pioneer: Their Past Lives Here, a virtual exhibit that is part of the Virtual Museum of Canada website. Using photographs and stories, this virtual exhibit explores the history of Bralorne from the first discovery of gold in the Bridge River valley in the 1860s to the closing of the mine in the 1970s. The Virtualmuseum.ca website, a collaboration between Canadian museums and the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN), includes 500 virtual exhibits promoting the content of Canadian museums and a gallery of 680,000 images drawn from Canadian museum collections.

Today, only a small number of people live in Bralorne. However, this may change, as the Bralorne Gold Mine was re-opened on May 27, 2011. Bralorne Gold Mines Ltd. is exploring and developing the between the historic Bralorne, King and Pioneer gold mines.

This week, our featured room in the Irving K Barber Learning Centre, is the Mackenzie Seminar Room, room 112, located in Rare Books and Special Collections. The Mackenzie seminar room is a bit different from the other rooms in that it is not named after a place, but an explorer: Sir Alexander Mackenzie.

Sir Alexander Mackenzie (1764-1820), completed the first recorded transcontinental crossing of North America by a European north of Mexico. On July 20, 1793, Mackenzie and his party arrived at Bella Coola, where he first reached saltwater at South Bentinck Arm, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean.

Image credit: Alexander Mackenzie painted by Thomas Lawrence (c.1800), courtesy National Gallery of Canada

In Rare Books and Special Collections, we have many historical maps documenting Mackenzie’s explorations. For example, in the Dr. Andrew McCormick map collection, there are a number of maps that illustrating Mackenzie’s travels. For example, McCormick map 106, A map of America, between the latitudes 40 and 70, and longitudes 45 and 180 West, exhibiting Mackenzie’s Track from Montreal to Fort Chipewyan & from there to the North Sea in 1789, & to the West Pacific Ocean in 1793 (London: Alexander Mackenzie, 1801). On this map, Mackenzie’s exploration routes of 1789 and 1793 are highlighted in red and yellow, respectively.

Image credit: Dr. Andrew McCormick collection, mccormick_106


In Rare Books and Special Collections, the Mackenzie seminar room is a multi-functional space.

Image credit: UBC Library


The reference collection (e.g. bibliographies, dictionaries, city directories, encyclopedias, etc) is arranged on the shelves in the room. As well, Rare Books and Special Collections librarians and archivists use this space to teach students, faculty, staff and community members about our collections. Since it is a room connected to the Fort Fraser Reading Room, we are able to bring out a variety of material and examples for class participants to use. If you are interested in arranging a class or tour using materials from Rare Books and Special Collections, please send an email to Rare Books and Special Collections.

The Chung Collection Exhibition will be closed to the public from August 24-26 and August 29. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Regarding history, Wallace Chung believes it is important to forgive, but not forget. His collection of rare items based on the Chinese experience in North America helps to keep memories of Chinese history alive, illustrating moments of historical happiness without neglecting to represent the struggles. Divided into three major themes of discovery, immigration and settlement, and the Canadian Pacific Railway, the room explores moments in history such as the Chinese Head Tax and the Fraser River gold rush. The room is filled with a variety of objects including posters, pamphlets, legal documents, and silverware.

A large model of the Empress of Asia sits at the heart of the room, representing one of the ships that brought Chinese immigrants from Asia to North America. In 1919, Dr. Chung’s own mother was one of those immigrants.

Image credit: Empress of Asia, UBC Library

Image credit: Empress of Asia, UBC Library


Collecting these artifacts, Dr. Chung explained, was not as difficult as some people seem to think. Some of the items, including more precious objects such as silverware, actually came to him because they had been discarded, for their historical value had not yet been known. To read more about the items from the collection on exhibition, go to the Chung collection website.

After years of accumulating items, Dr. Chung’s simple hobby of grew into a collection over 25,000 objects. Now, people of all ages are welcome to view them in the Chung Room. The exhibition, located in Rare Books and Special Collections, in the Irving K Barber Learning Centre, is open to the public and free of charge during Rare Books and Special Collections opening hours (Monday through Friday 9-5 year round, Saturday 12 – 5 during the fall and winter semesters). Appointments are not necessary to visit. Please feel free to drop-in and explore the collection at your leisure. For information on group tours and directions to the exhibition please go here.

Thank-you to our guest writer, Eleanor Munk, a student working for the summer in Rare Books and Special Collections, for writing this week’s blog entry!

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