We often write about collections that have already been digitized, but today we want to give you a sneak peek of a forthcoming collection that we’re working on right now.

The BC Historical Documents are a variety of papers, correspondence and text that have been identified as being representative of the documentary history of early British Columbia. These documents highlight the growth and development of BC over time, and feature some key figures in our social and political history. This collection is made up primarily of personal papers, letters, photos and ledger books, as well as a number of educational records such as curriculums and class lists.


Two graduate students from UBC’s School of Library & Archival Studies are working on digitizing these records and adding metadata to them. Through this work, both have had the opportunity to interact with rare and interesting materials, including police reports, yearbooks and personal letters. In one instance, a set of yearbooks from the Provincial Normal School shows the direct impact of World War I, with the 1914/1915 graduating class being half the size of the previous year, and the 1915/1916 yearbook documenting former students who had gone to war, as well as those that had passed away.

A number of correspondence from noted politician and 12th premier of BC, Charles Semlin, demonstrate the complex balance between private and public life that political figures often must negotiate. In Semlin’s case, he was known as a conservative politician interested in curbing immigration from Asia and implementing wide-ranging reforms. Despite his divisive political leanings, however, Semlin was a source of financial support for numerous friends and acquaintances throughout his life, a fact well documented in his correspondences.

Across these historical documents, it is possible to gain greater perspective and appreciation for the many components which have contributed to the building of our province, and the variety of stories that make this place unique.

Stay tuned for more information about the Early BC Historical Documents collection!

British Columbia’s history is closely tied to the development of industry and resource extraction in western Canada – from fishing to mining, there is no doubt that natural resources have been a driving force in shaping the province we’ve come to know today. Forestry is perhaps one of the most iconic industries in B.C., and today we’re focusing on the extensive photographic collection of MacMillan Bloedel Ltd., once considered one of the largest forest products companies in the world. Over 2500 photos document the history of the company, and of logging in the province over the course of the 20th century.


Logger with tree stump, ca. 1925


Topping a Hemlock tree, 1947

MacMillan Bloedel Ltd. began in 1909, at which time it was known as the Powell River Paper Company Ltd. Operating throughout Canada, the U.S. and overseas, MacMillan Bloedel Ltd. produced products ranging from newsprint, paper, and lumber to panelboard and containers.


Forest wardens replanting seedlings, 1948


Loading logs at Cameron Division, 1965

This collection provides a fascinating look at the lumber industry from its earliest beginnings, offering a glimpse of the changing technologies and the many peoples who built their lives and livelihoods around forestry work.


Faculty of Forestry at University of Toronto, 1912


Logging crane crew, 1942


A fine balance! Truck crossing over Douglas Fir bridge, ca. 1949
















Be sure to check out more images from the MacMillan Bloedel Ltd. collection – click here to explore more photos via Open Collections!


To see the map for yourself or check on anything you see in this post- just click the pictures!

B.C. Historical Newspapers collection is a priceless resource for anyone interested in the history of British Columbia. In fact it is one of our most well used, well-loved collections!The [current] selection of 94 papers [and growing!] and 30,000 items reflects the social and culture life of the communities they were published in, making them invaluable to researchers, historians and curious folk alike. A resource, with the introduction of Open Collections, that just got even better!

The papers come from all around the province with titles ranging from the Abbotsford Post to Westward Ho! The dates span over a hundred years, from 1865 to 1989.

With Open Collections you can now browse through the papers by text, date, creator, through a listed scrolling bar, or even, most visually stunning, by map.


Many collections display the publisher and the published dates as you browse.

Clicking on a collection will take you to its personalized page where you can browse by date with a scrolling year bar.


Dates the paper was published are highlighted in brown.

Clicking on a date will take you to that paper- where you are free to scroll, zoom and  download!



My favorite Boundary Creek page- not only does it have “all the wants of man”, but it’s got a vintage picture of what’s likely every miner living in Boundary Creek in 1896.

This collection is one that we are continually making better. Many of the papers are being updated so that you can have the best information possible, so keep checking back to see what new things you can find!

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