Cst. Graham Walker

In 2015, Constable Graham Walker of the Metro Vancouver Transit Police was asked to research the force’s history for their 10-year anniversary. His research led him to the City of Vancouver Archives, BC Hydro Archives, the Vancouver Police Museum and to our very own UBC Library’s Rare Books & Special Collections where he discovered that the history of the Vancouver Transit Police in fact dates back more than 100 years – to 1904. In his digging, Walker uncovered something even more intriguing, the 102-year-old unsolved murder of Charles Painter, a special constable for the BC Electric Railway, in 1915.  We spoke to Constable Walker about his incredible journey into the past and the research that has culminated in a provincial memorial for Charles Painter.

How did you first learn about Charles Painter’s murder?

I was part of the event planning team for Transit Police’s 10-year anniversary in December 2015, and I was curious about our origins previous to the BC Transit Special Constables who were first appointed in 1985. My research began at BC Hydro Library and Archives, then UBC Library’s Rare Books & Special Collections. Before long I had learned of a century-long history of railway constables, night watchmen, and security officers on transit in British Columbia. There was even an armed special constabulary which protected the transit and power systems during World War II. Continuing my research, I visited the Vancouver Police Museum. There, the curator was assisting me in reviewing their archives when she discovered Painter’s murder recorded in the Vancouver Police annual report from 1915.

What made you want to learn more about his death?

This was the first anyone had heard of a line-of-duty death in our organization’s history. I also knew that he was not listed on the provincial memorial for fallen officers. Recognizing him was important to me because I felt a personal connection – he did a similar job to mine and I was even the same age as him when he died. It was an especially tragic death because it was caused by another person, and not an accident. He never had a memorial, and wasn’t recognized – possibly because he had no known family at the time of his death. This was a wrong I knew I could correct by collecting the appropriate evidence for a proposal that he be added to the memorial. 

Tell us a little about Charles Painter, his job and how he died.

Back in 1915, the streetcar system was operated by BC Electric Railway, a company which also operated power plants and sold electricity to cities and residents – that company became BC Hydro in 1962. They employed constables, appointed under the Railway Act, for special projects or events. In S/Cst. Painter’s case, during World War I he was assigned to the tracks along False Creek to guard against wire theft. It was 2 am on March 19th, 1915 when he spotted a man carrying a sack on his back near to the tracks. He called out to him and drew his revolver. In the resulting struggle, the gun went off and the suspect fled west along the tracks with Painter’s gun, handcuffs, and baton. He was taken to Vancouver General Hospital via the Police Ambulance, but succumbed to his injuries two days later.

I focused on three things that were required for him to be honoured by the provincial memorial – that he was duly appointed to office, he was acting in good faith at the time of the incident, and his death was caused by an external influence. I first reached out to Vancouver PD to see if they had files on the investigation, but unfortunately, they didn’t. Local historians tell me that back then, detectives would routinely take files and exhibits home after the case was concluded. The provincial archives did have the coroner’s inquest on file, which was of great help. It included witness testimony from the man who found Painter wandering West 6th Avenue calling for help, and how he got him to the hospital. With the inquest file, the UBC Library Rare Books Special Collections records showing how constables were appointed, and copies of the Railway Act of 1911, I was able to put together a proposal. It included an endorsement from Chief LePard and an explanation of how Metro Vancouver Transit Police is a succeeding agency. It was accepted and his name was added to the memorial.

Senior Library Assistant, Felicie de la Parra and Vivian Yan, Public Service Library Assistant work through the BC Electric fonds with Cst. Walker.

Tell us about the sources that you found most helpful at UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections that helped you with your search.

I had to refer to the BC Electric fonds. While Painter’s death was one of the most important things I discovered, much what we know about transit policing in BC resides in the RBSC collection.Early records include letters of appointment for constables, lists of locations where they were deployed, and even reports on their activities. Later files include newspaper clippings of transit related crime including robberies and thefts. The most interesting files are from the years 1904 to 1918 and include the names of many of the people who were early protectors of the streetcar and transit system. My favourite item is one describing how a constable was suspected of taking a drink while on duty while posted to the terminal at 425 Carrall Street in 1909. The railway hired a private detective agency to pose as streetcar employees to monitor his activities. Their observations make for an interesting peek into the goings on at Hastings and Carrall during that time period. The constable was followed into the nearby hotel bars and was fired as a result. 

One of several reports Cst. Graham referred to in his research.

Who did you work with at Rare Books and Special Collections and can you tell us a little about how you worked together?

It was by recommendation from the librarian at BC Hydro that I first reached out to RBSC. Through the UBC website I reached librarian Chelsea Shriver, who invited me to attend in person. I had never conducted archival research, so she had to show me the ropes – and was very helpful. I started by asking for a few boxes listed in the BC Electric collection. The library staff walked me through requesting material, and protocols around reproducing information and how to reference my sources. Even when I had questions about the origins of material or was looking for more, they knew right where to look. I’ve returned several times in the hopes of finding more, and I’m lured there still by the chance there are more amazing stories remaining hidden in those boxes.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in the lower mainland to parents (and grandparents) who worked in the justice system. I was an officer with Correctional Service Canada before joining Transit Police, and I have specialized in public relations/communications in policing. A graduate of Thompson Rivers University, I have always had an interest in local history. This project has really piqued my interest though, as it combines my career with my hobby. It was really a pleasure to learn about things which were long forgotten.

What’s next? Any new developments in the Charles Painter story?

Well, S/Cst. Painter’s murder is still technically unsolved. While there was some evidence which surfaced in Steveston in late 1916, the prime suspect was never brought to trial and I’m still searching for a young soldier’s letter which implicated a man with pro-German sentiments as responsible for the murder. In the meantime, our employees have purchased Painter a gravestone which will be dedicated and consecrated at a ceremony on the 102nd anniversary of his death in March.

Cst. Graham Walker at the Provincial Memorial for fallen officers where Cst. Charles Painter’s name has been added.

A private gravestone dedication for Charles Painter will take place on March 21, 2017.

 

 

Arthur J. Ray has won the Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize for outstanding Scholarly Book on British Columbia for his book Aboriginal Rights Claims and the Making and Remaking of History. The $1,000 prize, given by UBC Library and the Pacific BookWorld News Society, will be awarded at UBC’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre in June.

Published by McGill-Queen’s University Press, Ray’s book is a masterfully-written examination of land claims litigation between indigenous peoples and the settler societies of the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa that powerfully demonstrates the important role proceedings in British Columbia played in events of global significance.

“This book is the outgrowth of my involvement in aboriginal claims in Canada as an expert on the historical geography of the economies of First Nations and Metis communities,” says Dr. Ray, “Beginning with my participation in Delgamuukw v. The Attorney General of British Columbia (1997), l became interested in the ways extant case law and scholarship influenced claims research and, in turn, how the latter research advanced aboriginal rights law and scholarship about aboriginal people.”

“We are thrilled that this year’s Basil Stuart-Stubbs prize has been awarded to a book written by a UBC faculty member,” says Melody Burton, UBC’s Interim University Librarian. 

Arthur J. Ray is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of History at the University of British Columbia and has served as the co-editor of the Canadian Historical Review from 2003 to 2006. He is the author of several other books including Telling it to the Judge, An Illustrated History of Canada’s Native People and Bounty and Benevolence.

Shortlisted titles for the award include:

At Sea with the Marine Birds of the Raincoast by Caroline Fox (Rocky Mountain Books)

and

Yakuglas’ Legacy: The Art and Times of Charlie James by Ronald W. Hawker (University of Toronto Press).

The Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize for Outstanding Book on British Columbia, sponsored by UBC Library and the Pacific BookWorld News Society, recognizes the best scholarly book published by a Canadian author on a B.C. subject. The award was established in memory of Basil Stuart-Stubbs, a bibliophile, scholar and librarian who passed away in 2012.Stuart-Stubbs’s many accomplishments included serving as the University Librarian at UBC Library and as the Director of UBC’s School of Library, Archival and Information Studies. Stuart-Stubbs had a leadership role in many national and regional library and publishing activities. During his exceptional career, he took particular interest in the production and distribution of Canadian books, and was associated with several initiatives beneficial to authors and their readers, and to Canadian publishing.

 

If you’re a fan of children’s books, you won’t want to miss From Apple Pies to Astronauts, A Chronology of Alphabet Books with Aphorisms, Amusements, and Anecdotes! at UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections. The exhibit offers a selection of English language alphabet books from the late 18th century to the present day. These books illustrate the changes in alphabetic education for young children in England, the United States, and Canada. The exhibition is curated by UBC Master of Library and Information Studies candidates Sarah Bagshaw and Laura Quintana, under the supervision of Professor Kathie Shoemaker.  We chatted with Laura and Sarah about their curation process.

What inspired you to create an exhibit around Alphabet Books? 

Sarah:  The books themselves were the inspiration.  Once Kathie Shoemaker suggested the idea, I got to search for alphabet books in the Rare Books and Special Collection catalogue.  Then I got to go and look at them and was amazed by all the different styles through time, all the differences and similarities to alphabet books now.  In discussing what I was looking at with my husband, he suggested displaying them in chronological order as well as going through the alphabet from A to Z.  This turned out to be an excellent way to showcase the books and the changes in illustration, the way they were written, and their educational purpose over time.

Laura: It was Sarah’s idea, actually. I got into the project in a later stage and helped her with everything I could. I have to say that I found the project really interesting. I did not grow up with Alphabet books and during our research we found out that in countries with languages other than English it is not as common as it is here to use alphabet books as an introduction to literacy.

What intrigues you about children’s books? 

Sarah: Children’s books are amazing.  There are so many wonderful books being published for children today.  Picture books are particularly fascinating as they tell stories with both text and pictures.  The types and styles of illustration we see now in picture books is incredible.  They are a window into the cultural context of the time period they come from as well as an entertainment piece for both adults and children.  Picture books are not easy to create.  They have to tell a story well and the text cannot fall down on the job – it has to work being read out loud.  Current writers could take a page or two from the writers of the past!  The rhyming text in the old alphabet books in the exhibit was a joy to read.

Laura: There is a common misconception that understands children’s literature as a second class kind of literature, as if authors and publishers were lowering their scales to produce books that appeal to children but are not good enough to engage adults. And it often happens that adults who read children’s literature are seen as infantile. Children’s literature has a specific audience, and that audience is the most demanding and honest of all. Authors need to really address a particular need and satisfy very high expectations. Children know what is good and what is not, and they won’t read a book that does not give them what they are asking for. Another important think to highlight is that children are still able to see the marvels of the world. Children’s books authors need to honor the splendour of that point of view and produce books that fully satisfy the children’s need for beauty, and that is not an easy thing to do. Alphabet books address a learning expectation, but they also appeal to children through illustrations, text, reading rhythm and originality. They are a learning tool and also a source for enjoyment. Alphabet books these days can be simply amazing.

How did the two of you come to work on this project?   

Sarah: Kathie Shoemaker approached me last summer while I was taking her Illustrated Materials for Children course about possibly putting together an exhibit of alphabet books in the Rare Books reading room.  This sounded like such a cool idea!  Everyone in the West who speaks English is familiar with alphabet books, we all grew up with them and there are so many different kinds.  To be able to look at old alphabet books as well as find beautifully illustrated new ones was so much fun. 

Laura: Sarah had already created the concept, and her enthusiasm and passion was contagious.

 

How did you select the books displayed in the exhibit? 

Sarah: Once we had the idea for a chronological tour, we selected books that best represented different eras or decades in the development of early childhood learning and alphabet books.  Some of the more recent alphabet books are very well known, but we felt that they should be included as they represented either specific ideas about children and learning, or a change in illustrative style.  Everyone knows Dr. Seuss, so did we need to have him in this exhibit?  Yes!!  He represents a big shift in the thinking about children, learning, and books.  Each book has a reason for being in the cases even if we didn’t create a lengthy item label for it. We were really lucky that Kathie has an extensive library of alphabet books to choose from and I also asked friends and family to search their libraries.

 Laura: We looked for the most appealing materials, and also for the ones that best represented a particular moment in time and in the evolution of Alphabet books.

Do you have a favourite alphabet book? 

Sarah: That’s hard.  There are certain books that have a nostalgia for me, like Cecily Mary Barker’s Flower Fairy Alphabet because I grew up with it, as well as Dr. Seuss.  Chicka Chicka Boom Boom  because we read that to our daughter and the rhythm in it is so spot on.  However, now that I have seen all these old alphabet books, I find the Battledoor fascinating for what it is and for showcasing street vendors from the early 19th century.  Wanda Gag’s ABC Bunny is such a good example of picture and text working together to tell a story.  The old alphabet books I got the most excited about are the ones illustrated by Walter Crane, who was part of the Arts and Crafts movement.  He worked with William Morris.  So many interesting things to read about him and his art!

 Laura: I fell in love with several of them, but if I have to choose it would be Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, with all its rhythm and freshness. I also love The Neverending Story since I was young, and until now I have never thought about the fact that it was written as an alphabet book, with chapters that start with a letter of the alphabet, in order. I found that very interesting.

What was your favourite children’s book as a child? 

Sarah: Another hard question!  My family is British and so I grew up with books from England.  I still have the copy my Granny sent me of Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree.  I blame this book for my love of fantasy and my fascination with doorways to other places.  I also have a soft spot for Wind in the Willows, original Winnie the Pooh, and A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson.  I pinched the family copy of The Real Mother Goose illustrated by Blanch Fisher Wright to use with our daughter and love looking into the history of weird and obscure nursery rhymes.  Clearly the rhyming and rhythm of text read out loud is important to me!

Laura: My favourite book as a child was Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. I’m still in love with this concept of Peter Pan as a newborn child who can fly, who used to have wings and is able to fly because he does not know that that is impossible. In this book he does not need fairy dust or the help of Tinker Bell to be able to flyI felt so sad when I first read it: to think about a child who flies away from his mother and finds out later, when he wants to come back, that the windows have been barred and that his mother has a new baby that has taken his place. I think that it is a wonderful book with an extraordinary, powerful and heartwarming main character.

From Apple Pies to Astronauts is on display at UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections on the first floor of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre from February 27 through April 30, 2017, and can be viewed Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 12-5 p.m. The exhibition is free and open to the public, and people of all ages are encouraged to attend. For more information, please contact Rare Books and Special Collections at (604) 822-2521 or rare.books@ubc.ca.

 

Freedom to Read Week runs February 26 to March 4, 2017. The annual event encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom, which is guaranteed them under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Attend one of the FTRW events hosted by UBC Library.

Freedom of Expression in the Post Truth Era: Open Mic Event

Date & Time: Tuesday, February 28th, 2017 at 12:30PM – 1:45PM

Location: Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, level 2 foyer.

Freedom of Expression is a charter right in Canada and is a fundamental value of professional groups such as librarians, archivists and journalists, who promote transparency, public accountability and the broadest possible access to information. However, we are seeing an erosion of these values in public life, through steps to censor scientists and public servants, to retract, hide or ignore information that does not conform to partisan views, and to treat the free press as a public enemy. This is a symptom of “post-truth” politics, in which sentiment and personal belief have more influence than facts, and facts are openly manipulated. As fake news, Orwellian newspeak and “alternative facts” flood our media streams, how do we continue to make sense of our world? How do we hold public figures accountable for their actions?

This open mic session invites the UBC community to speak up on what freedom of expression means in this post-truth era.

Bring your thoughts, arguments, poems, and stories.

Register for the event.

Freedom of Information Request Workshop

Date & Time: Wednesday, March 1st, 2017 at 12:30PM – 1:30PM

Location: Woodward Library Computer Lab – Room B25

Learn about the process of filing Freedom of Information (FOI) or Access to Information (ATIP) requests in BC and Canada. Topics include finding out if the information you need is already publicly available, structuring your request so it can be answered efficiently, and knowing your information rights under FOI laws. Session led by Greg Kozak, UBC iSchool adjunct faculty.

Register for the workshop.

Koerner Library will close for a few days in February due to construction.

The library will be closed on the following days:

  • Friday, February 10
  • Saturday, February 11
  • Sunday, February 12

The library will reopen after Family Day on Tuesday, February 14, 2017.

Irving K. Barber Learning Centre will remain open during these days. Please refer to the Library Hours & Locations to make alternative plans.

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