Many images in Open Collections show places that, while once centers of railway or mining activity, are no longer as populous as they once were. This post explores historic towns in British Columbia. Some resources describe these as “ghost towns” – towns that were abandoned, have a very small population today, and/or primarily exist as tourist attractions.


Field, BC

Located within Yoho National Park, the town of Field was founded in the 1880s, with construction workers for the Canadian Pacific Railway as its first inhabitants. The town was named after Cyrus West Field, an American businessman. Soon after the railway was completed in 1885, Field became a popular tourist destination for hiking.

Cochrane, Fredrick E. C.P.R. railroad locomotive, The Dominion at Field, BC, September 1954.

The CPR selected Field as the site of Mount Stephen House, their first hotel in British Columbia:

[Field, BC and Mount Stephen], [1888?].

Today, Field has fewer than 200 inhabitants; according to the Field website, they are “people from all corners of Canada, many of whom arrived in the area with skis in tow and couldn’t bring themselves to leave.”


Craigellachie, BC

Craigellachie is best known as the location of the “last spike” of the CPR. The name has a fascinating origin story. According to the BC Geographical Names database:

Craigellachie is the name of a high rock in the valley of the Spey, in Morayshire, Scotland. In the days of the clansmen, a sentinel kept watch here against all enemies; the lighting of a beaconfire summoned the Clan Grant to battle. The battle cry of the Grants’ was “Stand fast, Craigellachie”. Elsewhere, Craigellachie, from the Gaelic creag-eagalach, can be translated as “rock of dread/terror/alarm.”

The story goes that George Stephen, the CPR’s first president, sent a telegraph message quoting “Stand fast, Craigellachie” when he successfully secured additional funding for the railway in 1884.

One year later, on November 7, 1885, the last spike of the CPR was driven into the ground by Donald Smith. This completed the CPR from the east coast to the west coast of Canada:

[Donald Smith drives the last spike on the Canadian Pacific Railway], Nov 7, 1885

Today, this marker is located at the site of the last spike in Craigellachie:

[Last Spike marker at Craigellachie, BC], 1985


North Bend, BC 

Located just across the Fraser River from Boston Bar, North Bend was founded in the early 1880s as a CPR town. In addition to being a stop on the railway, North Bend was known as the location of Fraser Canyon House, another early CPR hotel.

Fraser River near North Bend, BC, [not after 1909].

North Bend, [between 1930 and 1950?]. From Clara Wilson’s photo album, [Ten Annual Cycling Trips, 1938-1947].

[North Bend Roundhouse C.P.R. railroad roundhouse], [1955?].

Today, there are still fewer than 100 residents of North Bend. According to the Boston Bar-North Bend website, “Affordable housing prices and close proximity to stunning nature have resulted in an influx of retirees and summer residents” in recent years.


Bennett, BC

In the late 1890s, Bennett was founded during the Klondike Gold Rush. Bennett is located along the Chilkoot Trail, close to the Alaska and Yukon borders. During the town’s boom years, Fred Trump and Ernest Levin opened the Arctic Restaurant and Hotel, which became a popular destination for prospectors.

Scene at Bennett, En Route to Klondyke Gold Fields, 1898, From the photo album, [En Route to the Klondike 1898-1901].

Craig, M.H. Scene from Lake Bennett during rush of 1898, En Route to Klondyke Gold Fields, 1898. From the photo album, [En Route to the Klondike 1898-1901].

Currently, there are no roads leading to Bennett. If you want to visit, you must arrive by train, taking a boat from Carcross, a charter floatplane, or hiking the Chilkoot Trail. However, there has been recent interest in renewing the town as a tourist destination; the Carcross Tagish First Nation and Parks Canada are collaborating to offer “high end camping trips” in Bennett during summers.


Britannia Beach, BC 

Several years after copper ore was discovered in Britannia Beach in 1888, the Britannia Mining and Smelting Company began mining operations there. Located just south of Squamish, the Britannia Mines were one of the largest mining operations in Canada in the 1920s and 1930s.

Timms, Philip T. Britannia Beach, B.C., Sec.1, [1907].

Timms, Philip T. Britannia Mines, B.C., [1908].

In 1923, the iconic concentrator shown below was built. After the mines closed in 1974, the Britannia Mines Concentrator was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1987, due to its technological innovations.

Britannia Beach, October 1936.

Today, you can visit the Britannia Mine Museum at Britannia Beach, and learn more about the mine on the museum website.


Barkerville, BC

Barkerville is British Columbia’s best-known Cariboo Gold Rush town. Named after William ‘Billy’ Barker, who struck gold there in 1862, the town’s population was as large as 5,800 at its peak.

Tait, Preston L. Barkerville, B.C., [between 1920 and 1930?].

Barkerville B.C., [not after 1950].

[View of storefronts in Barkerville]

Barkerville was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1924 for two reasons: its role as “centre of the Cariboo gold fields which were the catalyst for the economic and political development in British Colombia”, and as “the terminus of the great wagon road from Yale, completed in 1865.”

Today, Barkerville is home to a living-history museum; you can learn more about the town on their website.


References

The Uno Langmann Family Collection of British Columbia Photographs contains postcards, family photo albums, and ephemera from the 1850s through the 1970s. The collection of over 18,000 photographs was donated to UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections by Uno and Dianne Langmann. A portion of these photographs have been digitized and are accessible through Open Collections.

In addition to 79 photograph albums (containing 8,893 photographs), the digital collection contains 1,527 postcards. These postcards depict a range of subjects including landscapes, buildings and streets, parks, and bodies of water. Many of the postcards feature images taken by important photographers, including George Alfred Barrowclough, Leonard Frank, and Philip T. Timms. To provide a starting point for exploring the Uno Langmann postcards, we have compiled a brief profile for each of these three photographers, along with some representative postcards from the collection.


George Alfred Barrowclough

Born in England in 1872, George Alfred Barrowclough immigrated to Canada as a child with his family. In 1906, he moved from Winnipeg to the Lower Mainland, where he lived with his brother in Burnaby before moving to Vancouver in 1909.

The majority of Barrowclough’s postcards are from 1908-1912. The photographs focus on typical scenes, buildings, and popular destinations in and around Vancouver:

Barrowclough, George Alfred. Carnegie Library, Vancouver, B.C., [between 1910 and 1920?].

Barrowclough, George Alfred. Tally ho, Vancouver here, [between 1900 and 1910?].

Barrowclough, George Alfred. Post Office, Vancouver, B.C., [not after 1910].

Barrowclough, George Alfred. Big Tree Stanley Park, Vancouver, B.C., [between 1910 and 1920?].

Barrowclough, George Alfred. Capilano Bridge, B.C., [between 1910 and 1920?].

 

Notably, Barrowclough also took pictures of news events, like these photos of a streetcar crash and rubble from a fire:

Barrowclough, George Alfred. A bad smash between a drug store window and a st. car, Vancouver, B.C., [between 1910 and 1920?].

Barrowclough, George Alfred. Ruins by Fire, Vancouver, 1907.

 

And sometimes, his captions sometimes featured a bit of humor:

Barrowclough, George Alfred. On Strike for a Wider Road in Stanley Park, B.C., [between 1900 and 1910?]


Leonard Frank

Born in 1870 in Germany, Leonard Frank immigrated to San Francisco in 1892 during the gold rush. Although he never found gold, he won a camera in a raffle, and then moved north to Alberni, B.C. in 1894. He ran a general store and started a small studio there, then relocated to Vancouver in 1917, where he became a prominent commercial photographer.

The Uno Langmann collection contains 84 postcards featuring Leonard Frank photographs. Several of the photographs in the collection are landscapes, featuring locations across B.C.:

Frank, Leonard. Canadian Rockies, 1927.

Frank, Leonard. Capilano River and Lions, 1927.

 

This photograph was taken in Alberni, B.C., before Leonard Frank moved to Vancouver:

Frank, Leonard. Sproat Lake, V.I., [between 1905 and 1916?]

 

Like most postcard photographers, Leonard Frank also photographed buildings and attractions in Vancouver:

Frank, Leonard. Hotel Vancouver, 1927.

Frank, Leonard. Corner of Hastings & Granville Streets, Vancouver, B.C., [between 1910 and 1920?].

Frank, Leonard. English Bay, Vancouver, B.C., [between 1910 and 1920?].

Frank, Leonard. Vancouver, B.C., 1927.


Philip T. Timms

Philip Timms had a long and impressive career: born in 1874 in Toronto, he finally retired in 1968, after a 70-year career as a photographer. His photographs feature scenes from both the Lower Mainland and northern British Columbia. In addition to his independent work, he was the official photographer for the Vancouver Museum.

Timms, Philip T. Some retail shops, Granville St., Vancouver, B.C., [between 1903 and 1912?].

Timms, Philip T. Keep Left – Stanley Park, [1905].

Timms, Philip T. S.S. Princess Victoria, leaving dock, Vancouver, B.C., [1906].

Timms, Philip T. Choose ye, the farm or the city, Vancouver, B.C., [1906].

Timms, Philip T. Popular Stopping Place : Meals, Rooms, Cabins, Rest. Fraser Canyon, B.C., [1945].

Timms, Philip T. [Taking photographs of Bowen Island].

 

You can check out the rest of the Uno Langmann postcards here, or visit the Uno Langmann Collection page to browse by subject or date.

References

UBC Data Librarians in 1975- current librarians appear in colour.

 

 

 

Not surprisingly, we at the Digitization Centre are a big fan of analytics. Data about how people use the data and images we produce? Our knees are weak. What we’ve learned is that our blog post from 2013 regarding the BC Historical Newspapers Collection is one of the most often used, so an update including the last four years of work seems appropriate. Without futher ado:

 

 

 

 

These titles and date ranges are current as of the publication of this blog post- for the most current list, please see: https://open.library.ubc.ca/collections/bcnewspapers

Newspapers Available:

Newspaper Name  Date Range (Not all dates will have newspapers)
Abbotsford Post 1859—1994
Advance — Midway 1897—1927
Agassiz Record 1923—1924
Alberni Advocate 1912—1915
Anaconda News 1901—1927
Armstrong Advance 1903—1096
Arrow Lakes Advocate 1914
Atlin Claim 1899—1913
British Columbia Lumberman 1866—1913
Bella Coola Courier 1912—1917
Bennett Sun 1899—1921
Boundary Creek Times and Greenwood Weekly Times 1865—1935
British Columbia Labor News 1921—1922
British Columbia News 1866—1927
British Columbia Record 1916—1920
British Columbia Tribune 1866
Brooklyn News 1898
Canford Radium 1917
Cariboo Sentinel 1865—1875
Cascade Record 1898—1901
Cassiar News 1919
Chase Tribune 1912—1946
Chilliwack Free Press  1911—1912
Coalmont Courier  1912
Coast Miner  1899—1900
Coast News 1945—1994
Courtenay Review  1912—1918
Courtenay Weekly News  1892—1896
Cranbrook Herald  1898—1927
Cranbrook Prospector  1905—1917
Creston Review 1908—1975
Crofton Gazette and Cowichan News 1902—1906
Cumberland Islander  1910—1931
Cumberland News 1896—1931
Daily Building Record  1911—1920
Daily Telegram 1890—1929
Delta News 1902—1910
Delta Times 1903—1914
Despatch  1904
District Ledger — Fernie  1983—1920
Duncan Enterprise  1900, 1903, 1914
East Kootenay Miner  1897—1898
Echo  1907—1908
Enderby Press and Walker’s Weekly  1908—1921
Evening Kootenaian  1898
Evening Telegraph  1866—1921
Evening World  1884—1930
Express  1905—1912
Fernie Ledger  1905—1907
Fraser Advance  1907
General Conference Daily Bulletin  1910
Glenora News  1898
Golden Era  1893—1902
Golden Times  1907—1909
Grand Forks Miner  1896—1898
Grand Forks Sun  1901—1927
Greater Vancouver Chinook  1912—1917
Greenwood Miner  1899—1901
Hazelton Queek  1880—1881
Hedley Gazette  1904—1917
Hosmer Times  1909—1910
Hot Springs News  1891—1892
Independent — Vancouver 1900—1903
Industrial World  1899—1901
Kamloops Wawa  1891—1918
Kelowna Record and Orchard City Record  1908—1920
Keremeos Chronicle  1908—1909
Kootenay Liberal  1908
Kootenay Mail  1894—1905
Kootenay Star 1890—1894
Labour Star 1918—1919
Ladysmith Daily Ledger 1904—1906
Lardeau Eagle 1900—1904
Lardeau Mining Review 1904—1907
Leader—Advocate 1923
Ledge — Fernie 1904—1905
Ledge — Nakusp 1893—1894
Ledge — Nelson  1904
Ledge — New Denver 1894—1904
Lillooet Advance 1910—1911
Lowery’s Claim 1901—1906
Mail Herald 1905—1917
Marysville Tribune 1901—1902
Massett Leader 1912—1913
Miner — Nelson 1890—1898
Mining Review 1897—1903
Mission City News 1893
Morrissey Mention 1916
Morrissey Miner 1902—1903
Moyie Leader 1898—1911
Mt. Pleasant Advocate 1903—1907
Nanaimo Courier 1889
Nanaimo Mail 1896
Nelson Daily Miner 1898—1902
Nelson Economist 1897—1906
Nelson Weekly Miner 1899
New Westminster Daily News 1906—1914
New Westminster Times 1859—1861
Nicola Herald 1904—1909
Nicola Valley News 1910—1916
Nugget 1903—1904
Okanagan Mining Review 1893
Omineca Herald 1908—1912
Omineca Miner 1911—1918
Pacific Canadian 1893—1917
Paystreak 1896—1902
Penninsula Times 1963—1979
Penticton Press 1907—1909
Phoenix Pioneer 1899—1916
Port Essington Loyalist 1908—1909
Port Moody Gazette 1883—1887
Prince Rupert Journal 1910—1917
Prince Rupert Optimist 1909—1911
Prospector (Rossland) 1895
Prospector — Fort Steele 1898—1905
Quartz Creek Miner 1897
Queen Charlotte Islander 1911—1914
Red Flag 1918—1919
Revelstoke Herald 1896—1905
San Francisco Journal 1884—1888
Saturday World  1903
Silvertonian 1897—1901
Slocan Drill 1900—1905
Slocan Mining Review 1906
Slocan Prospector  1894—1895
Slocan Record 1911
Star 1908
Sun 1907—1908
Surrey Times 1895
The North Coast 1907—1908
The Wave — Victoria 1900
Tribune—Nelson 1892—1903
Vancouver Building Record 1911
West Forks News 1901
Western Call 1909—1916
Western Clarion 1904—1923
Westward Ho 1886
Ymir Herald 1904—1905
Ymir Miner 1898
Ymir Mirror 1903—1904

Please let us know in the comments if you access the papers, and anything interesting that you find! We are still digitizing newspapers from all over British Columbia, with no end in sight.

A number of our smaller collections here at UBC Library contain truly interesting and unique content that provides insightful historical perspective on early British Columbian history. Today we’re highlighting one such example: the Archibald Murchie Collection is made up of more than 50 photographs taken in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s by “B.C.’s Evangelist photographer”.

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Yale, B.C., ca. 1900

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Ten horse team skidding logs, between 1890 and 1910

These photographs feature imagery from the Cariboo and Similkameen regions of the province, highlighting the infrastructure projects and development in these areas by early settlers. Bridge, dam and railroad construction projects figure prominently, as do landscape shots of the growing cities, scenes of crews at work, and local First Nations peoples.

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Lytton, B.C., between 1890 and 1910

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First Nations family outside their home in Chilliwack, B.C., between 1890 and 1910

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First wheelbarrow in Cariboo, B.C., between 1890 and 1910

Archibald Murchie (1852-1930) was a Scottish immigrant and evangelist minister for the Spiritualist Church, an off-shoot of the Church of England. In the late 1800’s he decided to preach as a missionary in B.C.’s interior, and around the same time was hired to photograph the construction of a bridge over the Fraser River at Sheep Creek. As construction proved to be fairly slow, Murchie took the opportunity to travel to surrounding regions and photograph the growing towns and cities that were sprouting up. After a failed attempt at leading his own parish in Princeton, B.C., Murchie set up a photography studio in Ashcroft, B.C., eventually marrying and relocating to the Okanagan Valley.

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Bridge construction in progress at Sheep Creek on the Fraser River, between 1890 and 1900

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Stagecoach at 100 Mile House, B.C., between 1890 and 1910

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First Nations men and women on riverbank, between 1890 and 1910

At his death in 1930, Murchie’s widow remarried and destroyed all of his photographic equipment. It was only by chance that, in 1948, several glass plate negatives were recovered from a chicken house under repair. Another interesting fact: Archibald’s brother was the founder of the now well-known local company, Murchie’s Tea & Coffee.

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Man with dogs in snowy forest, between 1890 and 1910

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Princeton, B.C., between 1890 and 1910

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Men loading bobsled with logs near Westbank, B.C., ca. 1910

This collection is housed at UBC Okanagan Library’s Special Collections and Archives, and is a part of the Doug and Joyce Cox Research Collection. To view more images from the Archibald Murchie collection, click here!

The Japanese community has had a long history in British Columbia, beginning with the first Japanese person to land on the coast in 1877, a sailor named Manzo Nagano. For the next 70+ years, members of the Japanese community in the province achieved great success while also facing ongoing prejudice and racism, as early settlers in B.C. struggled to accept these new immigrants.

In 1907, Anti-Oriental riots shook various coastal cities along the Pacific, including Vancouver. Pervasive racism, intolerance and economic instability led to extensive damage to Asian-owned properties throughout the city, and prompted the Japanese government to stop emigration of its nationals to Canada.

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Building on Powell St. damaged during 1907 race riots, Vancouver

In February of 1942, in reaction to the events at Pearl Harbor, Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King issued a decree to evacuate all Japanese Canadians to “protective areas”, also known as internment camps. Men, women and children, many of whom were themselves born and raised in British Columbia, were relocated to the camps, and much of their property confiscated by the provincial government.

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Truck transporting Japanese Canadian men to Tashme camp

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Japanese Canadians being processed in Slocan

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Group photograph at Slocan camp

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Two men at internment camp , perhaps in Angler, ON.

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Group of children at Lemon Creek camp

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Group of Japanese Canadian girls participating in Bon-Odori (summer festival) at Greenwood camp

This collection documents these events while offering insight into the everyday lives of Japanese Canadians living in British Columbia throughout the 20th century. To learn more about this important collection, click here.

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Shigetaka Sasaki family

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Mrs. Shigejiro Edamura in front of an unidentified store

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Mrs. Ume Niwatsukino with children Hisako, Hiroshi and Shigeru in Steveston, 1926

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