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

One of the best things about Open Collections is the amazing amount of images and items focused on the local area. It’s easy to look back in time. Our Now & Then blog for example is a fun way to see how the UBC campus has changed.

We’re turning our time machine to another beloved local landmark, Stanley Park. The park, which was dedicated over 125 years ago in 1888, has been a gathering spot long before settlers arrived.

Originally home to First Nations peoples the park land has evidence suggesting habitation up to 3,000 years ago. At the turn of the 17th century the settlements of Whoi Whoi and Chaythoos were removed to make was for the development of the area.

The landmark of Siwash Rock, located near  Third Beach, was once called Slahkayulsh which translates to he is standing up. Oral histories relate to story of a fisherman was transformed into the rock by three brothers as punishment for immorality.

No. 63 - Siwash Rock, Stanley Park, Vancouver, B. Taken 1912

No. 63 – Siwash Rock, Stanley Park, Vancouver, B. Taken 1912

Much of the park is still densely forested. With half a million trees it’s close to what it was in the late 1800s. Some of the trees, which stand as tall as 76 meters (249 ft) and can are hundreds of years old.

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Can you spot the men in these pictures? They are worthy of a ‘Where’s Waldo’ photo!

Many trees tourist attractions and have been for over a hundred years. Take for example the Hollow tree- which still exists in the park! Here’s a photo from over 100 years ago!

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One famous tree landmark that is gone now but can still be seen in our photo collections is the Seven Sisters, a grouping of seven enormous trees. Legend has it that the trees were seven kind souls lined up to protect visitors from an evil soul embodied in a white rock.

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So, if you have an hour or two get dressed in your Sunday best and see the park for yourself! Or explore the history of Stanley Park through Open Collections.

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Learn more about Stanley Park, learn about the history behind the park

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