With more than 2200 books in its fly-fishing and angling collection, the Harry Hawthorn Foundation at UBC Library has grown considerably from a relatively modest beginning. In 1953, after a successful fishing trip at Upper Campbell Lake on Vancouver Island, the nine founding members collected a grand sum of $13.50 in fines and good-natured bets from that weekend’s activities and established a trust fund.

At first, the Harry Hawthorn collection was built book-by-book in what Stanley Read, the Foundation’s first Secretary, called a “somewhat unplanned and erratic, ordering of books on angling and game fish.” Over time, however, the Foundation has been the recipient of many generous gifts including the Stanley Read Endowment and the Haig Brown Memorial endowments, resulting in the robust collection we have today. The work continues steadily, with 23 new books added to the collection in 2017/2018, including two deluxe editions.

At the heart of the Foundation exists a passion for angling and our local lakes and rivers, but it’s clear that the camaraderie of the sport is paramount. In his chronicle of the Foundation’s birth and history, Read writes nostalgically about that fateful trip to Upper Campbell Lake: “It was a pleasant, warm and friendly place. The evenings were passed in good conversation; and during the long days we fished.”

The annual fishing trip to Pennask Lake in the BC Interior is now a long-standing tradition among Foundation members. Similarly, as membership has grown, so have the opportunities to bring anglers and their guests together at events like the Harry Hawthorn Foundation Luncheon, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

With characteristic enthusiasm, Read sums up exactly what keeps everyone coming back each year. “Of all branches of sporting literature in the development of western civilization, the literature of angling is the most extensive, the most interesting, and, even to the general reader, the most rewarding.”

Learn how you can get involved with the Harry Hawthorn Foundation by visiting the website.

The Fall 2016 issue of Trek looks at the Library's purchase of the Kelmscott Chaucer.
The September 18, 2016 episode features a visit to Rare Books and Special Collections to see the extraordinary Kelmscott Chaucer. Segment runs from 32:42-47:20.
CBC News explores how the Kelmscott Chaucer gives unique insight into both old and new printing technologies.
CTV's evening news covered the Library's purchase of this rare book on August 25, 2016.
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