The Bralorne Reading Room (room 490 in the School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies, Irving K Barber Learning Centre) is named after the town of Bralorne, a gold mining community in the Bridge River District, 125 kilometers west of the town of Lillooet.

Image credit: Bralorne minesite on the Cadwallader creek, 1935 (courtesy Bralorne-Pioneer Museum)

Image credit: Bralorne minesite on the Cadwallader creek, 1935 (courtesy Bralorne-Pioneer Museum)

In 1897, three gold prospectors staked claims at what became the Bralorne Mining site: the Lorne, Marquis, and the Golden King claims. From 1897 to 1931, various people worked in the mines. Among those people was Arthur Noel, a prospector and his wife, Delina. Together, they owned and worked in the Lorne mine from 1916 to 1928, making $160,000 (Bralorne-Pioneer Museum)
Image credit: Bralorne gold bricks (courtesy Bralorne-Pioneer Museum)

Image credit: Bralorne gold bricks (courtesy Bralorne-Pioneer Museum)

In 1931, the mine was purchased by Bralco Development and Investment Company. Austin Cottrell Taylor, the owner of Bralco, renamed the mine Bralorne mine. From March 1932 to 1971, the mine, made up of the Bralorne, King and Pioneer mines, was “the largest historic gold producer in the Canadian Cordillera producing 4.1 million ounces of gold” (Bralorne Gold Mine Ltd.).

Image credit: Bralorne-Pioneer Gold Mine History (courtsey of Bralorne Pioneer Museum Flickr Photostream)

Image credit: Bralorne-Pioneer Gold Mine History (courtsey of Bralorne Pioneer Museum Flickr Photostream)

During the 39 years that the mine was in operation, a large town developed to support the hundreds of people who worked in the mine. There are a number of publications in the UBC Library collection on Bralorne (see, for example, Bridge River Gold), however, the Bralorne Pioneer Museum offers the best selection of resources. It was formed in 1977 with the mandate to preserve the history of the Bridge River Valley which consists of several small communities: Bralorne, Gold Bridge, Gun Creek, Gun Lake, Tyax Lake and Marshall Lake.

If you are unable to visit the museum in person, check out the Bralorne-Pioneer: Their Past Lives Here, a virtual exhibit that is part of the Virtual Museum of Canada website. Using photographs and stories, this virtual exhibit explores the history of Bralorne from the first discovery of gold in the Bridge River valley in the 1860s to the closing of the mine in the 1970s. The website, a collaboration between Canadian museums and the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN), includes 500 virtual exhibits promoting the content of Canadian museums and a gallery of 680,000 images drawn from Canadian museum collections.

Today, only a small number of people live in Bralorne. However, this may change, as the Bralorne Gold Mine was re-opened on May 27, 2011. Bralorne Gold Mines Ltd. is exploring and developing the between the historic Bralorne, King and Pioneer gold mines.

If you have been to Google today, it may have come to your attention that today is the 224th anniversary of the birth of Louis Daguerre, inventor of the first permanent photographic process, called a daguerreotype.  Daguerreotypes were used from around 1839 to 1860, and differ in many ways from later photographic types: the process created a direct positive on a silvered copper plate. The result is a somewhat mirrored image, that because of its fragility, would have often been stored in a decorative case, behind a piece of glass. Because the image was transferred directly as a positive (meaning, there is no negative) it was not possible to make copies of the same image- every daguerreotype in existence is completely unique.

A search in our B.C. Historical Photograph Collection yields one lone example of a daguerreotype, a portrait of an unidentified man:

BC1933, Portrait of a man

BC1933, Portrait of a man

You can see that his rosy cheeks have been hand-painted on. Like many daguerreotypes, this one is in a decorative case:

Decorative daguerreotype case

Decorative daguerreotype case

For more daguerreotypes:

Library of Congress daguerreotype collection

Daguerreotypes at Harvard University

Search for daguerreotypes at Library and Archives Canada

See the process at the Getty Museum

and just for fun:

CBC wants you to send in your daguerreotype-style photos

My Daguerreotype Boyfriend (full disclosure- they aren’t all daguerreotypes)

For information on searching photograph collections at UBC, check out our Historical Photographs research guide.

A reminder that except for UBC Okanagan Library, all other UBC Library branches, including Rare Books and Special Collections, University Archives and the Chung Collection will be closed for Remembrance Day on Friday November 11.

Empress of Russia leaving Vancouver for war, 1939

Empress of Russia leaving Vancouver for war, 1939

The photograph above, from the Chung Collection, shows the C.P.R. steamship the R.M.S. Empress of Russia leaving Vancouver when she was requisitioned by the British Admiralty. She, and many other C.P.R. ships, also participated in the First World War. Below is a photo of her ca. 1915 painted in “dazzle” camouflage, designed to confuse observers as to the type of ship, speed and direction.

Empress of Russia painted in "dazzle" camouflage

Empress of Russia painted in "dazzle" camouflage

The C.P.R. lost many employees, and ships, during both World Wars, which was written about recently on the Chung Collection News blog.

Details for UBC’s Remembrance Day ceremony can be found here.

The Chung Collection exhibition room will be closed to the public on Monday Nov. 7. Our apologies for this inconvenience.

Please note that this closure also effects the Rare Books and Special Collections Charles Van Sandwyck exhibition.

Cross posted with the Chung Collection news blog.

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