The Fisherman Publishing Society formed in 1937 in order to publish The Fisherman, a newspaper that was jointly sponsored by the Salmon Purse Seiners Union and the Pacific Coast Fishermen’s Union. The newspaper highlighted industry and union events and promoted unity among fishermen along the West Coast.


Eulachons being unloaded at the Fraser River Fish Company dock at New Westminster, 1950

As one of the founding industries which led to the development and growth of British Columbia’s towns and cities, fishing and fisheries have historically played a large part in the lives of many people living on the West Coast, and continue to this day. Although the industry has seen its share of highs and lows, the photographs in this collection feature some of the incredible hauls that were captured, the vessels that were once so common to our shores, and the many people from diverse backgrounds involved, including First Nations, Chinese and Japanese peoples, Indo-Canadians and Europeans.


United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union protest meeting concerning Steveston Imperial, 1962


Fishing from seine boat with nets and rowboat, 1972


Whale on dock at Coal Harbour, British Columbia, date unknown


Ship cooks course at Vancouver School Board, 1960


View of the boat “Spray No.1”, 1962


View of halibut caught and displayed, date unknown


Views of the “Canfisco”, 1971

Enjoy the unique photos from this bygone era, and be sure to enjoy the full Fisherman Publishing Society collection at Open Collections!

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.


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.


Truck transporting Japanese Canadian men to Tashme camp


Japanese Canadians being processed in Slocan


Group photograph at Slocan camp


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


Group of children at Lemon Creek camp


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.



Shigetaka Sasaki family


Mrs. Shigejiro Edamura in front of an unidentified store


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

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!

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