Hot off the press it’s the 2019-2020 Digitzation Centre Impact Report!

This report highlights key activities of the Digitization Centre over the past year including: new and highlighted collections, software enhancements and upgrades, and user engagement statistics.

With over 219,000 users accessing Open Collections, engagement grew substantially from last year’s 190,000 visitors. While the majority of users continue to be from Canada and especially British Columbia, there is substantial engagement from outside of British Columbia and internationally.

New additions to Open Collections include:

The Nelson Daily News (featured in a recent blog post): Published between 1902 and 1980, phase I of this project makes available 5598 editions of the newspaper from 1902 to 1920.

Interim Forest Cover Series Maps: Produced from the first-ever systematic inventory of British Columbia’s forests conducted from 1951-1957, these maps are a much-used source of information on timber resources in the province. Very cool looking collection as well.

Pedestal: This Vancouver feminist periodical was published between 1969 and 1976 and was digitized in partnership with SFU Archives and the Vancouver Women’s Caucus.


Other honourable mentions:

Improvements to Open Collections: Search and indexing features were upgraded to facilitate users’ ability to filter and sort their search results.

Additions to the Harry Hawthorn Fly Fishing Collection: As much as the idea of fly-fishing might make you yawn, this collection features many items dating back to the 1700s, offering a unique historical perspective on more than just fishing.

Web Archiving: Major additions to UBC’s web archiving portal on Archive-it include updates to the Trans-Mountain Pipeline collection and the collection related to the Site C Dam.

Digital Asset Management System (DAMS) Project: Though it may bore the average user to tears, we have been working hard in preparation for changing our legacy content management system to DSpace 7. While we made excellent progress last year, there is still much to do.

Thanks for checking this out and if you want more details, remember to read the report!

n.b. featured image from the RBSC Bookplates Collection.


The feature photograph of this collection, showing students being vaccinated against polio in the 1950s, illustrates the culmination of a concerted effort to eradicate a debilitating disease that had affected Canada since the early 1900s (Canadian Public Health Association). While this photograph is from the BC Archives Photograph Collection editions of the Ubyssey from this time document advances in Polio research and frequently contain announcements of polio vaccinations being held on campus. Shortly before this period, treatment of polio could lead to the patient experiencing a full recovery. As polio often makes it difficult to breath, iron-lungs were an essential tool in successful treatment (Haynes, 2006).


Vaccination and successful treatment did not necessarily end the troubles presented by polio. Those who recover from polio may experience post-polio syndrome years later. The following photograph, from UBC Reports, shows researchers at the UBC School of Rehabilitation Medicine assisting a patient with post-polio syndrome to perform leg exercises to help recover her ability to walk.

Researchers at the UBC School of Rehabilitation Medicine help a woman suffering from post-polio syndrome with leg exercises, 1987. Further details are available in the full article.


Cholera is another condition that has affected people globally for almost two centuries (World Health Organization 2019). Open Collections contains accounts of cholera outbreaks throughout the world, and especially in the settlement of the western parts of the Americas. BC Historical Books is a good collection for exploring these first hand accounts; where the disease hits swiftly and often with deadly effect. BC Historical Newspapers also provides “in the moment” stories of outbreaks and their effects locally and around the world. By the time the following report was published in the BC Sessional Papers, it was clearly understood that contaminated drinking water was a major vector for the spread of the disease.


Other reports from the BC Sessional Papers indicated a risk of infection disease being transmitted to the province through increased international steamship traffic to the province. Indeed, there are accounts throughout Open Collections of ships and their passengers being quarantined, either at sea or designated quarantine stations. Ensuring overseas passengers were vaccinated against infectious diseases was another precaution taken. The Chung Collection contains numerous vaccination cards of overseas passengers as well as travel and immigration regulation pamphlets from steamships.


Of course, in the times of COVID-19, it’s hard to talk about infectious diseases without considering the 1918-19 flu pandemic. The BC Sessional Papers again are a good source for reports on the state of the epidemic, including the 1920 Report of the Provincial Board of Health, which includes statistics on the pandemic and especially its devastating effect on the indigenous people of British Columbia. More concise information on the flu pandemic in British Columbia can be found in the journal BC Historical News, 1992, 25(4) including the ever appreciated photograph of people wearing masks. BC Historical Newspapers contains frequent reports on the state of the pandemic, but perhaps more intriguingly, also has advertisements for products promising relief from the flu.

Advertisement for Minard’s Linament, promising relief from the flu, in the 1922-03-17 edition of the Creston Review. Gin Pills were another popular remedy for kidney troubles following a bout with the flu.


Finally, no article on disease in British Columbia, however brief, would be complete without mention of the devastating effect of smallpox on the province in its early history. Although the disease ravaged the province on many occasions, the 1862 smallpox epidemic remains the most infamous for the horrific death toll it inflicted on the province’s Indigenous inhabitants. BC Historical Books Collection contains many eye-witness accounts of this epidemic. One example is from “Blazing the trail through the Rockies : the story of Walter Moberly and his share in the making of Vancouver”, where Walter Moberly recounts several encounters with Indigenous people and entire villages suffering from the disease as he traveled along the Cariboo Road in 1862. We will leave you with the first section of this account, which can be read in its entirety by following the link provided with the image.

Account by Walter Moberly of an encounter with an Indigenous person suffering from smallpox in 1862. The passage can be read in its entirety here (page 47 on, page 55 on the carousel):

Works Cited

Canadian Public Health Association. “The Story of Polio” Accessed October 8, 2020 <>.

Haynes, Sterling. 2006. “Frontier Medicine in the Chilcotin Region of B.C.” In British Columbia History, 39(1), 10-11. <>

Foster-Sanchez, Maria., Spaulding, William B. 2020. “Smallpox in Canada”. In The Canadian Encyclopedia. Accessed October 20, 2020 <>


As we continue to push through the COVID-19 pandemic many questions are raised. What pandemics have affected British Columbia in the past? What was their effect? How were they dealt with? We might wonder what the health care system was like over a century ago. We might be tempted to see what hospitals existed in the late 19th century, and what they looked like. We may also be curious to know how certain conditions were treated. As we eagerly await the development of a vaccine for COVID-19 our curiosity might be piqued as to how vaccination efforts were carried out in the past and for which diseases.

For the next few blog posts, we’ll investigate some of the materials available on Open Collections dealing with these subjects. To start, we’ll do an overview of some of the sources of information dealing with health care in British Columbia.

The BC Sessional Papers <> contains the annual reports of the various iterations of the Ministry of Health. The first report of the provincial board of health <> was released in the 1896 edition of the BC Sessional Papers. Also available in the BC Sessional Papers are the registrars of births, deaths, and marriages. The following image is from a table in the twenty-fifth annual report of the registrar, published in 1899, showing the registered deaths due to various diseases.

Table of registered deaths from disease in the 1899 edition of the BC Sessional Papers.


The history of hospitals can also be found on Open Collections. In addition to the BC Sessional Papers, the BC Historical Books Collection contains plenty of information on the origins and development of various hospitals in the province. A particularly excellent example is the title “Royal Jubilee Hospital: 1858-1958”, which traces the origins of the hospital to its mid-20th century form. The following image from 1890 of the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria is among many images of the hospital found in this item.


Images of the past abound on Open Collections. Whether in dedicated photograph collections or in collections consisting of mixed, or primarily textual materials, you can find images of hospitals, their grounds, and the goings-on inside. The image below, from UBC Archives Photograph Collection, shows a patient in an oxygen tent at Vancouver General Hospital sometime around the 1950s.


The History of Nursing in Pacific Canada collection can also be found on OC. This collection includes photographs of instruments that were used in nursing practice in the past, the Vancouver Medical Association bulletin, and the Lyle Creelman fonds. Creelman (1908-2007) was a Canadian nurse who attained her nursing degree from Vancouver General Hospital and UBC in 1936. She later went on to achieve her masters at Columbia University. She worked to improve health care around the world and served as the Chief Nursing Officer of the World Health Organization from 1954-1968 (B.C. History of Nursing Society).


The BC Historical Newspapers collection is an excellent source of information on outbreaks and other health issues in British Columbia; providing in the moment reports and commentary on the events of their times. The following article, from the July 20, 1892 edition of the Hot Spring News, gives details on a smallpox outbreak in Victoria and other parts of the province.

Article from the July 20, 1892 edition of the Hot Spring News giving details on a smallpox outbreak in B.C.


We hope this brief overview provides you with some useful starting points for research on the history of health care in British Columbia. Stay tuned for further blogs where explore specific outbreaks, their management, and treatment.


B.C. History of Nursing Society. “Dr. Lyle Creelman (1908-2007). Accessed September 22, 2020 <>.

Cover page from the prosperity and development edition, 1907 <>

Though it’s old news by now, phase one of the digitization project to make copies of the Nelson Daily News available online was completed this spring. In partnership with the rights holder, Touchstone Nelson, and using microfilm from the BC Archives, over 60 microfilm reels were scanned. Ranging from 1902 to 1920, 5597 edition were made available online. Since going live in September, the collection has received over 128,000 views and over 700 item downloads. Thank you for your support!Advertisement from the prosperity and development edition, 1907, <>

The paper provides an in-depth look at local, national, and international affairs. The advertisement above provides an example of industrial activities taking place in Nelson in the early 20th century. As exciting as Iron Works are, the advertisement below for the Nelson Brewery might be closer to the mark for day-to-day concerns. Other local advertisements include hardware and fishing tackle, land investment opportunities, and clothing shops.

Advertisement from the prosperity and development edition, 1907, <>

Of equal or greater interest are the insights into the local sports scene in the early 20th century. One can check up on the latest hockey scores in the winter, or baseball scores in the summer, as Nelson competes with local rivals such as Ymir, Rossland, or as far abroad as Edmonton. The following excerpt is from a write-up on the history of hockey in the Kootenays as of 1909, see the full article for more details.

Article on the history of hockey in the Kootenays from the February 18, 1909 edition <>

Of course, it goes without saying, to play hockey you need the right equipment. Where better to get that equipment than the Nelson Hardware Company on East Baker Street.

Advertisement from the February 11, 1908 edition <>

Opportunities to invest in land abound and include local purchases as well as outside of British Columbia. As a growing major centre, advertisements to invest in Calgary are plentiful and provide a view on the state of the city, as well as its potential for growth, in the early twentieth century.

Advertisements to invest in land in Calgary from the October 6, 1911 edition <>

Provincial and national politics figure large in the newspaper as well. One of the most amusing avenues of expression are the plethora of political cartoons included in the paper. Sir Wilfred Laurier is often the butt-end of these satirical renderings.

Satirical cartoon from the August 31, 1911 edition, <>

Of course, the first world war took place during the period covered by this collection. The war receives immense attention in this paper, reporting on actions on all fronts. The actions of Canadians fighting abroad are often emphasized, as in this excerpt from the front page of the April 26, 1915 edition, describing events that took place during the second battle of Ypres.

Headline from the April 26, 1915 edition, <>

We hope that this post has piqued your interest in the Nelson Daily News. If you wish to explore further, please check out the collection’s homepage on Open Collections (link at the top of this article). You can also check out our blog from February 11, 2020, which features advertisements from the Nelson Daily News.

Like many of you, we are spending a lot more time on virtual meetings here at the Digitization Centre. For this post, we’ve compiled a bunch of backgrounds from Open Collections that will refresh your space and make your next video call, online lecture, or virtual party more fun.

From the Uno Langmann Family Collection of British Columbia Photographs, we found images that bring the spectacular BC scenery to your home office.

The Lions, [1919]

Suspension Bridge, Capilano Canyon,1917

Sunset, English Bay, Vancouver, B.C., 1927

If you are looking for something artistic, make sure to check out prints from the Chung Collection and Meiji at 150.

Canadian Pacific Railway Company’s Steamship Fleets, [1910]

Mount Eisenhower, [not before 1940]

Tōkyō nishikie seizō no zu, 東京錦繪製造之図, [1877]

The following images can probably beat most million-dollar-view offices in downtown.

The U.B.C. and Vancouver, [between 1940 and 1950?]

Aerial view showing Brockton Point & city, Vancouver, B.C., [not before 1937]

[View of downtown Vancouver B. C.], 1957

Is your room messy? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Check out the following images of interiors from hotels and a Canadian Pacific steamship.

Interior of Grouse Mountain Chalet, [between 1920 and 1930?]

Palm Garden, The Empress, Victoria, B.C., [between 1908 and 1910?]

Cabin dining saloon, [Canadian Pacific S.S. Melita], [1918?]

And finally, you can host your meeting here from UBC.

Main Library concourse, 1929

Cows grazing in front of Library, May 31, 1937

This is a composite photograph created from two separate images.

View of Main Library from Koerner Library, 2002

Now that spring is in full bloom, you may miss strolling around UBC Vancouver and soaking up the greenery. So for this post, we’re taking a virtual tour through the campus gardens.

Nitobe Memorial Garden

Designed by Kannosuke Mori, a renowned landscape architect from Chiba University, Japan, Nitobe Memorial Garden highlights a sense of harmony with nature.

Nitobe Garden, [between 1970 and 1979]

Nitobe Garden, [between 1970 and 1979]

Nitobe Garden, 1978

Nitobe Garden, [between 1970 and 1979]

Nitobe Garden, Oct 7, 1993

Rose Garden

Located at the north end of Main Mall, Rose Garden features stunning ocean and mountain views.

Rose garden at Rose Garden Parkade, 2002

Rose garden, [date unknown]

View of rose garden, [between 1970 and 1979]

Botanical Garden

UBC Botanical Garden has a collection of plants from every corner of the world and is beautiful in all seasons.

Alpine Garden, [date unknown]

View of Botanical Garden, 2000

View of Botanical Garden, 2002

To explore more historical photos of UBC Campus, please check out the UBC Archives Photograph Collection.

In this post, we have compiled a few historical images of healthcare workers from the Open Collections. We wanted to take this opportunity to send out our thanks to the tireless nurses, doctors, and all the other healthcare workers who are working hard and saving lives—today and every day.

The following images from the World War I British Press Photograph Collection portray medics working during wartime.

Official photographs taken on the British Western Front in France: At a base hospital – Attending a wounded Tommy, [between 1914 and 1918?]

Official photographs taken on the British Western Front in France: At a base hospital – These wounded Tommies were very anxious to show their little mascot, a small black kitten, [between 1914 and 1918?]

Official photographs taken on the British Western Front: A sister has been given a souvenir by one of her patients on a hospital barge, [between 1914 and 1918?]

Official photographs taken on the British Western Front: Sandbags instead of handbags – Lady ambulance drivers in France, [between 1914 and 1918?]

Official photographs taken on the British Western Front in France: In a laboratory of a base hospital, [between 1914 and 1918?]

Official photographs taken on the British Western Front in France: In the laboratory of a base hospital, [between 1914 and 1918?]

This photograph from the Chung Collection shows the interior view of the Chinatown clinic with Dr. Yip Kew Ghim and nursing sisters. Dr. Yip Kew Ghim was the first Chinese Canadian doctor (source: Explore Open Collections: Yip Sang Collection).

[Chinese hospital clinic], 1935

These photographs below are from the UBC Archives Photograph Collection.

Senior nurse and nursing student at nursing station at Vancouver General Hospital, ca. early 1900s

Nursing staff on lawn in front of Vancouver City Hospital, 1902

Operating room, Vancouver General Hospital, 1906

Vancouver General Hospital students, VGH Class of 1908

Nurses in anatomy class being taught at Vancouver General Hospital, [1935]

Patient in oxygen tent at Vancouver General Hospital with a student nurse, ca. 1950s

Nursing student Arlene Aish with young patient at Vancouver General Hospital, 1957

Two unidentified UBC Nursing students during extended care experience in UBC Hospital Purdy Pavilion with an elderly female patient, [between 1980 and 1989]

April is National Poetry Month. We’ve gathered some poetry and related items from Open Collections for your enjoyment.

UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections has 250 posters concerned with the advocacy for peace, equality and harmony during the Vietnam War era from the University of California’s Berkeley campus and other regions in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Berkeley 1968-1973 Poster Collection contains a series of posters promoting poetry reading events:

[Berkeley writers for peace], [between 1968 and 1973?]

[Berkeley writers for peace], [between 1968 and 1973?]

[Gorilla poetry], [between 1968 and 1973?]

The CiTR Audiotapes collection is a collaboration between UBC Library’s Digitization Centre and CiTR 101.9 FM (the Student Radio Society of UBC). Spanning 1949 to 2000, this collection comprises interviews with independent artists and writers. Here is a recording of an address given by writer Margaret Atwood for the Alma Mater Society’s women’s studies program, including readings from her novel The Edible Woman and several poems:

The BC Historical Books collection also contains a collection of poetry.

How I once felt. Songs of love and travel, 1893

A garden by the sea, and other poems, 1921

Songs of the Cascades. First part, 1894

Here’s a book of prose and poetry related to Stanley Park:

By shore and trail in Stanley Park: legends and reminiscences of Vancouver’s beauty-spot and region of romance, with historical and natural history details, 1929

By shore and trail in Stanley Park, pp. 28-29

Finally, check out this beautiful calligraphy from the UBC Library Framed Works Collection. The note from the verso reads: “Written and illuminated by my father Lionel Haweis Vancouver 1911. He threw the work out as he was not satisfied with the art work & lettering. As a child I rescued it from his waste paper basket. He was surprised and very pleased I had the interest at 8 years.”

The Heritage, 1911


During this challenging time, we’d like to share a bit of comfort with you, so we’ve compiled a list of leisure readings from the Open Collection. Enjoy!


For the time being, most of us should stay at home and help to keep our communities safe. But this is also a good time to gather some travel inspiration. The BC Historical Books Collection features a lot of intricately illustrated travel books, with a focus on Canada and especially British Columbia.

Canadian pictures: drawn with pen and pencil, 1884

With numerous engraving illustrations and several maps, this book covers geography, history, and industry across Canada.

Canadian pictures: drawn with pen and pencil, pp. 118-119

Canadian cities of romance, 1922

Written by Katherine Hale and illustrated by Dorothy Stevens, this book includes descriptions and illustrations of major Canadian cities.

Canadian cities of romance, 1922, pp.40-41

Canadian houses of romance, 1926

This book is a companion volume to Canadian Cities of Romance, describing historic houses across Canada.

Canadian houses of romance, 1926, pp. 160-161


For those who enjoy angling and fly-fishing, the Hawthorn Fly Fishing & Angling Collection is a treasure trove of rare and valuable books. The following are just two examples from more than 2,200 books.

The Fly maker’s hand-book, [1886?]

Containing nine coloured illustrations, this book presents 50 artificial flies for trout and grayling fishing.

The Fly maker’s hand-book, pp. 62-63

Salmon flies, [between 1890 and 1899?]

This is a fly-fishing book written by Geo. M. Kelson. With plenty of coloured illustrations, it provides details on the components of each fly, as well as the author’s comments.

Salmon flies, [between 1890 and 1899?], pp. 47-48

Children’s books

It can be challenging to work from home with kids. The Historical Children’s Literature Collection may help to distract your kids, so that you can focus on your work for awhile. Below are some chapbooks from the collection.

The two wealthy farmers; or, the history of Mr. Bragwell. Part I, [1795]

The history of Simple Simon, [1820?]

The butterfly’s ball, and the grasshopper’s feast, 1807

With all the stress and uncertainty around us, take the opportunity to dive into one of these books and relax!

BP MUR SL P B696, [date unknown]

The Open Collections cover a wide range of topics and disciplines where you can find materials to support your research, teaching, and even hobbies. In this post, we select some of our collections that are related to Canadian literature.


BC Historical Books

The goal of the BC Historical Books project is to build a single searchable database of the bibliography of British Columbia based on full-text searchable versions of the books contained therein. The result will allow scholars, students and the public unparalleled access to knowledge about our province.

The following is useful subject headings related to Canadian literature:

Pastoral literature

Juvenile literature

Canadian poetry


Related genres include:


Travel literature


Rural rhymes and the sheep thief, 1896

Snap: a legend of the lone mountain: with thirteen illustrations, 1890

Snap: a legend of the lone mountain: with thirteen illustrations, 1890, pp.94-95


UBC Library has a significant collection of small press literary magazines, most of which are held in Rare Books and Special Collections. These magazines published experimental and non-mainstream writings produced by relatively unknown authors. Some of these materials have been digitized and are available in the Open Collections.

PRISM international

PRISM international (1959 -) is a quarterly magazine out of Vancouver, British Columbia, whose mandate is to publish the best in contemporary writing and translation from Canada and around the world. Writing from PRISM has been featured in Best American Stories, Best American Essays and The Journey Prize Stories, amongst other noted publications.

Through a partnership with the UBC Creative Writing Department, UBC Library digitized all back-issues of PRISM in 2015. The full archive is available in Open Collections. To learn more about this collection, please check out this previous post.

PRISM also published a Cumulative Index Volume at their 25th anniversary, which lists all writings (through 1984) in alphabetical order by author.

Prism international, Oct 31, 1960

Prism international Cumulative Index Volume, 1 – 22, 1959 – 1984

The resources mentioned above all support full-text search. You may also be interested in this research guide: Special Collections: Canadian Literature.

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