“Life’s too short to wear boring shoes.” — John Fluevog

The David Lam Management Research Library and Canaccord Learning Commons, Rare Books and Special Collections, and the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre at UBC Library are pleased to present “50 Years of Sole: A History of Fluevog: Honouring a Vancouver Icon,” which is on display in David Lam Library from November 20 to December 24, 2019.

The exhibition coincides with the 50th anniversary of Vancouver-based John Fluevog Shoes, and the publication of a new book, Fluevog: 50 Years of Unique Soles for Unique Souls. John Fluevog is a celebrated Canadian shoe designer known for his witty and unconventional style, as well as the uplifting messages that he includes on every pair of shoes. His designs are among the most distinctive footwear of the last fifty years.

Darren Dahl, Senior Associate Dean, Faculty at the UBC Sauder School of Business, Director of the Robert H. Lee Graduate School and Professor in the Marketing and Behavioural Sciences Division, attests to Fluevog’s significance as both a business and a cultural treasure, affirming that “Fluevog put Vancouver on the map for innovative and progressive shoe design.”

John Fluevog’s work in shoe design and business has been a winding journey with ups and downs. His career began in Gastown, where the Vancouver flagship store is located today, when Fluevog partnered with Peter Fox in 1970. The partnership, known as Fox and Fluevog, lasted a decade and saw the opening of multiple stores before an amicable split. The split marked the birth of “John Fluevog Shoes” with more store openings in Seattle, Boston, and Toronto. Fluevogs broke into the mainstream in the 1990s when they were worn by both Madonna in the film Truth or Dare and by Lady Miss Kier from the band Deee-lite. To keep up with demand, John opened up stores in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. Today, Fluevog has 27 stores in the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, and Australia. Throughout his career, Fluevog has woven his love of cars, his focus on community and culture, and design and sustainability into his craft and stores.

The Mini Gorgeous is UBC Library’s favourite Fluevog shoe, as voted on by Library personnel in an online poll.

The exhibition hosted within the David Lam Library and Canaccord Learning Commons highlights how John Fluevog has successfully built a business, a brand, and a community over the course of 50 years. Just as Fluevog values its customers as collaborators, locating the display in a vibrant, learner-centred space allows students to experience directly Fluevog’s collaborative, creative, and inspiring approach to business.

In addition to the exhibition at David Lam Library, a display on level 2 of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre will feature original multimedia illustrations from Vancouver artist Robert Chaplin’s The Elves & the Shoemaker, featuring charming and helpful elves making and wearing Fluevog shoes. The book is a delightfully illustrated adaptation of the Brothers Grimm original tale, inspired by the soul and soles of Fluevog shoes.

Complimenting the displays in the David Lam Library and the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, the Walter C. Koerner Library will host a book display starting on December 1 that delves into the “sole” of Fluevog, bringing together materials on the subjects of footwear, fashion, celebrity, subculture, and Vancouver history that influenced and were influenced by John Fluevog. The display will also feature interactive de-stressing activities that tap into Fluevog’s creativity and playfulness.

Drop-in tours of the exhibition at the David Lam Library and Canaccord Learning Commons  will be offered on the following dates:

November 26: 12:00-12:30pm and 12:30-1:00pm
November 28: 12:00-12:30pm and 12:30-1:00pm

We are pleased to announce these tours during Global Entrepreneurship Week, and we will feature subsequent posts featuring short interviews with UBC Fluevloggers on UBC Library’s Small Business Accelerator: sba.ubc.ca.

These multi-site displays will run from November 20 to December 24, located in the David Lam Management Research Library, level 2 of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, and the main lobby of Walter C. Koerner Library (starting December 1). For more information, please contact Rare Books and Special Collections at (604) 822-2521 or rare.books@ubc.ca.

Many thanks to guest blogger James Goldie for contributing the below post! James is a graduate student at UBC’s iSchool (School of Library, Archival and Information Studies) and is currently working as a student archivist with Rare Books and Special Collections.

“They also serve:” A. Alexis Alvey and the navy’s first female service members

Unit Officer A. Alexis Alvey of the W.R.C.N.S.

Her mother calls her “the Canadian lieutenant” and the girls in the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service call her “Chiefie”…

So begins a 1943 Royal Canadian Navy press release announcing the promotion of Lieutenant Amelia Alexis Alvey to Unit Officer at H.M.C.S. Stadacona, a rank equivalent to that of an army captain. This new position – granted just a year after she first enlisted – meant Alvey was in charge of more than 1,100 Halifax-based service members from the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service (WRCNS), known as Wrens. More than a third of all Wrens were stationed at H.M.C.S. Stadacona in Halifax.

Alvey (who went by A. Alexis Alvey) was born November 22, 1903 in Seattle, Washington. After completing her undergraduate studies in New York, Alvey studied science at McMaster University (1932-1933) and went on to work as chief photographic technician at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine. It was during this period she gained Canadian citizenship. After the outbreak of World War II, Alvey helped organize the businesswomen’s company of the Toronto Red Cross Transport Corps and commanded it for two years. She had also served as lecturer to the entire Transport Corps for Military Law, Map Reading, and Military and Naval Insignia.

Recruitment advertisements ran in magazines throughout Canada from 1942-1944, reminding readers that women could now serve in the navy as part of the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service.

Men Can’t Do It Alone

In 1942, top brass in the Canadian navy realized they could not solely rely on men in their fight against Hitler’s forces. They contacted the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) in London requesting assistance in the formation of a Canadian counterpart. “Please send us a Mother Wren,” they said, according to Alvey. Those “mother wrens” were Joan Carpenter and Dorothy Isherwood, who came to Canada and established the WRCNS later that year. Alvey was among the first to enlist.

Until then, the Canadian navy had been an all-male service. As one member wrote in 1943: until the establishment of the WRCNS, “ships and shore establishments alike were manned by men, and knitting seamen’s stockings, or collecting magazines, games and special parcels for ships’ crews at sea was about the limit of any contribution made by women.”

Women were not permitted to serve in combat roles, however, they took over the navy’s on-land operations, which freed up male service members to join battles at sea. The Wrens worked as signallers, wireless-telegraphers, writers, information and intelligence workers, postal clerks, research assistants, cooks, stewards, wardroom attendants, laundry assistants, and more.

Rising Through The Ranks

A. Alexis Alvey (far right) with fellow “Wrens” at the W.R.C.N.S. training centre in Galt, Ontario.

In her first year with the WRCNS Alvey was appointed acting Chief Petty Officer Master-at-Arms. Her other assignments included duty as Deputy Unit Officer H.M.C.S. Bytown (Ottawa), duty with the Commanding Officer Pacific Coast H.M.C.S. Burrard (Vancouver), assignment as Unit Officer, Lieutenant H.M.C.S. Bytown, and finally Unit Officer to H.M.C.S. Stadacona (Halifax). She was responsible for training and running practice drills, developing policies, and meeting with officers from ships that arrived in Halifax.

She served with the WRCNS from August 1942 to January 1945.

The A. Alexis Alvey Fonds

After the war, Alvey returned to her home city of Seattle where she worked as a librarian at the University of Washington. However, she never forgot her time with the WRCNS. For the rest of her life, Alvey organized and attended Wrens reunions, she wrote articles and histories about the service, and collected all manner of documents, memorabilia, and ephemera related to the “The Women’s Navy” as it was sometimes called.

The Royal Canadian Navy’s certificates of service were designed with only male service members in mind.

These records along with Alvey’s personal papers and an extensive collection of photographs are housed at UBC’s Rare Books and Special Collections and are available for research.

The materials that make up the A. Alexis Alvey fonds express the profound sense of pride shared by Alvey and her fellow Wrens with respect to their years of military service. An essay commemorating the WRCNS silver anniversary by Isabelle NcNair (née Archer) captures this pride. In it, a grandmother tells her granddaughter the story of the Wrens. “But Grannie, I thought Grandad won the war,” asks the child.  “No dear,” responds her elder, “I did.”

Many thanks to guest blogger Alvionne Gardner-Harrison for contributing the below post! Alvionne is a graduate student at UBC’s iSchool (School of Library, Archival and Information Studies) and is currently working with UBC Library’s W.C. Gibson History of Science and Medicine Collection as a professional experience project.

An Ocean of Knowledge, a Sea of Books: The Ocean and its Inhabitants in the W.C. Gibson History of Science and Medicine Collection

For Science Literacy Week 2019, one of the exhibits shared by Rare Books and Special Collections focused on materials from the W.C. Gibson History of Science and Medicine collection. With exhibit items ranging from sea otters on book-bindings to hand-painted seaweed fronds, and from the earliest studies in microscopy to guides for hobbyist naturalists, “An Ocean of Knowledge, a Sea of Books” gives some historical background to the ocean science highlighted in this year’s Science Literacy Week theme.

The exhibit of European scientific literature and illustration from the 17th-19th century explores representations of oceanic life and the techniques and technologies that were used to gather, organize, and distribute information about oceanic organisms. For much of the history of science that the W.C. Gibson collection documents, manuscripts and printed books were the main format in which new scientific observations and ideas were disseminated. The physical qualities of organisms such as fish, molluscs, and sea mammals that were encountered on colonial scientific expeditions, could best be preserved through detailed illustrations that were then reproduced in copperplate and sometimes coloured by hand. These striking images, organized according to new taxonomic systems like that of Linnaeus, were distributed in books such as those in this exhibit. The books included in the exhibit’s cases, some of which are featured below, highlight both ocean science and scientific literacy prior to the 20th century.

Microscopy, Taxonomy, and Colonial Voyages

Significant advances in technology, both intellectual and material, were required for European scientists to systematically study oceanic organisms, as was the expansion of colonial voyages. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek and Robert Hooke contributed to the nascent biological sciences through their development of microscopes and their demonstration of how they could be used to study microscopic organisms and the structures within larger organisms.

  • Hooke, Robert. Micrographia (1665). [QH271 .H79 1665]
  • Leeuwenhoek, Antoni van. Vervolg der brieven (1704). [QH41 .L4393]
  • Mantell, Gideon Algernon. Thoughts on animalcules: or, A glimpse of the invisible world revealed by the microscope (1846). [QL365 .M35 1846]

Snow, In forbidden seas. [F5817.S3 S6].

Taxonomic systems enabled naturalists to organise newly discovered (and previously known) life forms into meaningful categories and to better understand them. Encountering unfamiliar varieties of oceanic animals and plants required journeying abroad. This usually took place in the context of voyages on merchant ships; “discovery” was funded and enabled by the processes of capitalism and colonialism.

  • Pennant, Thomas. Arctic Zoology, II (1784). [QL105 .P4]
  • Linné, Carl von. Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines (1767). [QH43 .S9 1767]

The Material Science Book

The physical descriptions of organisms that were encountered on both local and colonial scientific expeditions could be communicated most effectively through detailed illustrations. These images were then reproduced as prints which were made from copperplate engravings, and which could be easily shared throughout the scientific community. In the 19th century, these illustrations were also widely printed in less expensive—but often beautifully bound—books for the general public, who enthusiastically engaged in early popular science.

  • Gosse, Philip Henry. A history of the British sea-anemones and corals: with coloured figures of the species and principal varieties (1860). [QL377.C7 G67 1860]
  • Adams, Henry Gardiner. Beautiful shells: their nature, structure, and uses familiarly explained, with directions for collection, cleaning, and arranging them in the cabinet and descriptions of the most remarkable species (1871). [QL405 .A33 1871]
  • Recent polar voyages: a record of discovery and adventure from the search after Franklin to the British polar expedition, 1875-76 (1877). [G625 .R35]

Hamilton, The natural history of the amphibious carnivora. [QL737.P6 H2 1839]

Mechanized reproduction of images reduced costs, but some book buyers still chose to have illustrations hand-painted with striking colour on top of the printed images, such as the unusually large seaweed pictured in The botany of the Antarctic voyage of H. M. discovery ships Erebus and Terror.

  • Hooker, Joseph Dalton. The botany of the Antarctic voyage of H. M. discovery ships Erebus and Terror, in the years 1839-1843, under the command of Captain Sir James Clark Ross (1844). [QK5 .E6 1844]

Inconceivable Ichthyology

This case featured examples of illustrations depicting fishes identified and illustrated during global voyages of exploration and organized according to the binomial nomenclature of Linnaeus.

  • Richardson, John. Ichthyology of the voyage of H.M.S. Erebus & Terror, under the command of Captain Sir James Clark Ross (1844). [QL636 .R52]
  • Schomburgk, Robert Hermann. Natural history of the fishes of Guiana (1843). [QL632.A3 B8 1843]
  • Bennett, James William. A selection of rare and curious fishes found upon the coast of Ceylon: from drawings made in that island, and coloured from life, with letter-press descriptions (1851). [QL634.C3 B4 1851]
  • Fries, Bengt Fredrik. A History of Scandinavian Fishes, Vol. II (1893). [QL633.S22 F74 1893 v.2]

From “Sea Monsters” to Seals

In addition to an extensive selection of books on fishes, the Gibson collection includes scientific materials on aquatic plants, molluscs, seabirds, and sea mammals, among other groups of organisms recognized during the 19th century.

  • Sowerby, George Brettingham. Genera of recent and fossil shells (1820). [QL 404 S 68]

Dewhurst, The natural history of the order cetacea. [QL737.C4 D5 1834].

Of particular note are books containing illustrations of cetaceans, a group which includes whales, and of various types of seals. These sea mammals were not only of interest from a scientific perspective; increasing awareness of their physical properties and habits improved the effectiveness and efficiency of organized hunting. The object of this was to convert these animals’ bodies into fuel and luxury goods, an effort that was often too successful to be sustainable in the long term. Some sea mammal populations remain subject to conservation efforts today as a result of this hunting.

  • Dewhurst, Henry William. The natural history of the order cetacea, and the oceanic inhabitants of the Arctic regions (1834). [QL737.C4 D5 1834]
  • Hamilton, Robert. The natural history of the amphibious carnivora, including the walrus and seals, also of the herbivorous cetacea. [QL737.P6 H2 1839]
  • Snow, Henry James. In forbidden seas: Recollections of sea-otter hunting in the Kurils (1910). [F5817.S3 S6]

UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, The Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society and the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop have collaborated to present an exhibition that captures the continual impact of iconic Asian Canadian Jim Wong-Chu.

Jim Wong-Chu (1945- 2017) was a well-known Asian-Canadian historian, editor, author, and poet. Born in Hong Kong, Wong-Chu came to Canada in 1953. He attended the Vancouver School of Art (Emily Carr University of Art + Design) from 1975-1981, majoring in photography and design. From 1976-1981, Wong-Chu was involved with the Vancouver Co-op Radio Program on culture and assimilation, Pender Guy Radio Program while working at the Vancouver School of Art.

Considered one of the first Asian-Canadian authors who gave voice to the Asian Communities in the times when the support for the Asian arts was difficult to obtain. Jim Wong-Chu dedicated much of his time to compile a literary anthology, “Many Mouthed Birds” to showcase the richness of Asian-Canadian literature. During 1995 and 1996 Jim Wong-Chu co-founded the Asian Canadian Performing Arts Resource (ACPAR) and became one of the founders of the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop (ACWW) where he helped many young Asian-Canadian writers to succeed by editing and finding publishers for their works. Jim Wong-Chu along with Mishtu Banerjee, Mo-Ling Chui, Grace Eiko Thomson, and Winston Xin​ formed the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society, as an organization that endeavoured to explore the diversity of Asian Canadian life and culture and promote the discussion of relevant issues and concerns within and beyond the Asian Canadian communities.

RBSC is proud to hold both the Jim Wong-Chu fonds and books from Jim’s personal library collection.

The exhibit, Jim Wong-Chu: Iconic | Asian | Canadian, runs October 10 to November 15 on level 2 of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, located on the UBC Vancouver campus. For more information, please contact Rare Books and Special Collections at (604) 822-2521 or rare.books@ubc.ca.

Science Literacy Week (September 16-22, 2019) is an annual celebration of science in Canada, in which libraries, universities, museums, and other partners offer events and displays to highlight research and learning at our institutions.

This year focuses on the OCEAN, a perfect theme for a country that borders the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic Oceans. All branches of the UBC Library on both the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses will showcase items from their rich collection of ocean-related books, films, and even puppets.

Rare Books and Special Collections is delighted to feature displays of historical materials related to the ocean from the W.C. Gibson History of Science & Medicine Collection, as well as modern poetry books inspired by our world’s oceans, notably some beautiful small and fine-press limited editions featuring British Columbian and Canadian poets.

For more details about RBSC’s book displays as well as displays and activities at the other UBC Library branches, visit the UBC Library Guide to Science Literacy Week.

RBSC’s Science Literacy Week displays, which are free and open to the public, will be up in our reading room from September 16 until September 30, 2019. The RBSC reading room is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, please contact Rare Books and Special Collections at (604) 822-2521 or rare.books@ubc.ca.

The Wallace B. Chung and Madeline H. Chung Collection has been added to the Canadian Commission for UNESCO’s Canada Memory of the World Register in recognition of its historical value.

Showcasing the most significant documents of our heritage, UNESCO’s Memory of the World program is an international initiative launched to safeguard the documentary heritage of humanity against collective amnesia, neglect, the ravages of time and climatic conditions, and wilful and deliberate destruction. It calls for the preservation of valuable archival holdings, library collections and private individual compendia all over the world for posterity, the reconstitution of dispersed or displaced documentary heritage, and the increased accessibility to and dissemination of these items. The Canada Memory of the World Register highlights exceptional works and documents that reflect the wealth and diversity of Canada’s documentary heritage.

In being added to the Canadian register, the Chung Collection joins a short list of Canadian works and documentary collections including the Canadian Pacific Railway Company Fonds, The Vancouver Island Treaties, and Witnesses of Founding Cultures: Early Books in Aboriginal Languages (1556-1900).

The Chung Collection contains more than 25,000 rare and unique items (documents, books, maps, posters, paintings, photographs, silver, glass, ceramic ware and other artifacts), and selections from the collection are on display in Rare Books and Special Collections, organized to show some of the most compelling stories of Canada’s past. RBSC offers weekly tours of the Chung Collection exhibition space. The weekly drop-in tours are held every Thursday from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. in Rare Books and Special Collections on Level 1 of UBC Library’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre!

If you are unable to make the drop-in tour, you are welcome to browse the exhibition anytime RBSC is open, Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The exhibition is free and open to the general public, as well as the UBC community. For more information, please contact Rare Books and Special Collections at 604 822-2521.

The Wallace B. Chung and Madeline H. Chung Collection exhibition at Rare Books and Special Collections has been open to visitors in its current location in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre since April 2008. Since then, the RBSC team has diligently tracked attendance. Earlier today, we were delighted to welcome the 10,000th and 10,001st visitors to the Chung Collection exhibition!

Over the years, the visitors to the Chung Collection have been diverse and varied, including UBC classes, visiting scholars, University staff, students and faculty, seniors groups, as well as community members from Greater Vancouver and many visitors from afar. Today’s special visitors were Ivy Ng (the 10,000th visitor) and Susanna Ng (the 10,001st visitor). Ivy and Susanna had known about the Chung Collection for some time and finally visited the exhibition to see in person some of the Collection’s many special and unique artifacts related to the Chinese community. They were thrilled to discover they were milestone visitors to the exhibition, particularly Ivy, who received a UBC Library gift bag. Given their good luck today, Ivy and Susanna said they were considering buying a lottery ticket. Like most lottery hopefuls, they have already partially spent their winnings—generously offering funds for a Chung Collection endowment if they win big.

The Chung Collection exhibition features only a small portion of the Chung Collection’s more than 25,000 items. Materials not on display can be accessed for consultation in the Rare Books and Special Collections reading room. Accumulated over 60 years by Dr. Wallace Chung, the extraordinary Chung Collection covers three main themes: early British Columbia history and exploration, the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, and early immigration and settlement with a focus on the Chinese diaspora.

Stay tuned for 20,000th visitor celebrations!

In honour of the 60th anniversary of the Library’s acquisition of the Puban Collection, Rare Books and Special Collections will be hosting bi-weekly tours highlighting items from the Puban Collection throughout the summer.

Tour Dates:
July 9, 2019 (1:30-2:30 pm)
July 23, 2019 (1:30-2:30 pm)
August 6, 2019 (1:30-2:30 pm)
August 20, 2019 (1:30-2:30 pm)

Join this tour for an introduction to the Puban Collection, hosted by UBC Library’s Chinese Rare Books Cataloguer, Ya Min Wu.

The event is free and open to the general public, as well as the UBC community. No need to RSVP, just drop in. Rare Books and Special Collections is located on the 1st floor of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, 1961 East Mall, UBC Vancouver campus. For more information, please contact Rare Books and Special Collections at (604) 822-0645 or rare.books@ubc.ca.

The Wallace B. Chung and Madeline H. Chung Collection, one of our most well-known and beloved special collections, contains material related to three broad and interrelated themes: early British Columbia history, immigration and settlement and the Canadian Pacific Railway Company. The Chung Collection contains more than 25,000 rare and unique items (documents, books, maps, posters, paintings, photographs, silver, glass, ceramic ware and other artifacts), and selections from the collection are on display in RBSC, organized to show some of the most compelling stories of Canada’s past.

To accompany our weekly Wednesday drop-in tours, Rare Books and Special Collections offers weekly tours of the Chung Collection exhibition space. The weekly drop-in tours are held every Thursday from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. in Rare Books and Special Collections on Level 1 of UBC Library’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre!

If you are unable to make the drop-in tour, you are welcome to browse the exhibition anytime RBSC is open, Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The exhibition is free and open to the general public, as well as the UBC community. For more information, please contact Rare Books and Special Collections at 604 822-2521.

Rare Books and Special Collections at UBC Library is excited to announce a new public exhibition, “A Queer Century, 1869-1969,” opening to coincide with UBC’s hosting of the 2019 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences.

“A Queer Century” tell stories from the history of sexuality, progressing from the emergence of homosexuality as a named concept in 1869 to the announced decriminalization of homosexual activity in Canada in 1969, and highlighting cultural events in the changing perceptions of gender and sexuality. The exhibition features books, ephemera, and archival materials in English, German, and French from RBSC’s collections, as well as original correspondence held in UBC’s University Archives, and materials generously loaned by local private collectors.

This exhibition is made possible by the Queer Collections Project (QCP), a joint, interdisciplinary initiative organized by faculty in the Faculty of Arts with the support of UBC Library and housed at Rare Books and Special Collections. The QCP began with seed funding from the Jane Rule Endowment for the Study of Human Relationships (JRE), with the goal of making significant additions to the UBC Library’s collections, thereby putting in place primary resources for undergraduate and graduate research into the study of the history of sexuality.

Since 2017, the faculty curators—Dr. Kyle Frackman (Department of Central, Eastern, and Northern European Studies) and Dr. Gregory Mackie (Department of English Language and Literatures)—have aimed to add to the University’s collections and to surface items that UBC Library already owns. The QCP has received generous funding and support from the JRE, UBC Library, the UBC Provost’s Office, and the Ulrich Maché Memorial Fund.

“A Queer Century, 1869-1969,” which is free and open to the public, will be on display in the Rare Books and Special Collections reading room from June 1 to September 11, 2019. The RBSC reading room is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A catalogue of the exhibition can be downloaded here. For more information, please contact Rare Books and Special Collections at (604) 822-2521 or rare.books@ubc.ca.

 

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