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  • 6 Jun 2021 7:31 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The British Columbia Historical Federation (BCHF) is pleased to announce that Al Donnelly is a recipient of an Inspiration award for his work documenting the Boundary region and maintaining the Boundary Historical Society’s cabin at Jewel Lake near Greenwood.   

    The award is bestowed upon individuals and organizations who have provided hope and optimism to the sector in British Columbia during the ongoing pandemic.  

    An active member of the Boundary Historical Society, Al has undertaken deep research pertaining to the history of the Grand Forks and Greenwood areas. During the pandemic, Al worked ceaselessly to locate, collate, research and write stories about the Boundary region. The work has culminated into the production of the Boundary Historical Society’s 18th historical report publication.  

    In addition to carrying out tireless research, Al is a stalwart steward of the Society’s 1899 cabin located at Jewel Lake. Tackling duties pertaining to security, cleanliness and ground maintenance, Al’s work help ensure that the public will be able to enjoy the cabin for years to come.  
    The award was presented at the Federation’s annual conference awards gala online on June 5.

  • 6 Jun 2021 7:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The British Columbia Historical Federation (BCHF) is pleased to announce that Natalia Deros of Heritage Abbotsford Society is the recipient of the Best News and Media Award for the society’s recent Stories to Spaces: Local Community Places social media campaign.  

    The award offers a certificate and cash prize of $250 for published news and media resources generated by BCHF members and can include newsletters, social media campaigns, podcasts and more.  

    Fusing built heritage with storytelling, digital heritage imaging, archival research and interviews, Natalia’s work brings Abbotsfordians together and draws upon the knowledge of the community to bring about dialogue on racism, inclusivity and heritage practices.  

    The Stories to Spaces: Local Community Places campaign helps bridge the generational gap between younger and older audiences, promoting knowledge exchange and inspiration. Currently, the campaign features posts about the Punjabi Patrika, Lekw’óqwem (Mill Lake), the Fraser Valley Regional Library system, Gifford and more.  
    The award was presented at the Federation’s annual conference awards gala online on June 5. 

  • 3 Jun 2021 2:25 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Snunéymuxw Reserve in downtown Nanaimo, circa 1900. Photo: Nanaimo Museum A1-80

    By Mark Forsythe

    And they’re off! When the ferry docks at Departure Bay, so begins a frantic race for the Island Highway, and Nanaimo is quickly in the rear-view mirror. This summer, why not visit the city’s historic downtown to see what you’ve been missing?

    Also known as the “Hub City” (the downtown streets are laid out like the spokes on a wheel), Nanaimo is very walkable and easy to explore. Hoof it along the Harbourfront Walkway, then drop into the Art Gallery or Vancouver Island Military Museum. Both are just around the corner from the landmark Hudson’s Bay Company Bastion that’s been standing guard above the harbour since 1853.

    The downtown is loaded with quaint shops, restaurants, and pubs — one of them inside a restored E&N Railway station. There are other impressive heritage structures, including the Nanaimo Courthouse that was designed by Francis Rattenbury. Built from granite and sandstone, it speaks to the prosperity of Nanaimo’s coal, lumber, and fishing industries, and the unbridled optimism of the era when it was constructed, in 1895.

    For a strong sense of place and history, the Nanaimo Museum is an essential stop. Exhibits are numerous and varied: a coal mine, settler-era classroom, Snunéymuxw cultural artifacts, and a Hall of Fame dedicated to the city’s persistent love affair with sports, from soccer to track and field and hockey.

    Manager Sophia Maher says she’s proud that the museum is part of a vibrant downtown. In addition to adapting to the pandemic, staff have been focused on renewing gallery spaces and expanding an exhibit about Nanaimo’s earliest inhabitants, the Snunéymuxw (“Nanaimo” is derived from their name.) At a city reconciliation event, Sophia asked Elder William White to visit the Museum and help deepen their presence.

    Downtown Nanaimo, 1890s. Photo: Nanaimo Museum A1-32

    “We tell lots of European stories, but we want to know what’s missing from the Snunéymuxw point of view. We’re missing thousands of years’ worth of history.” William, with a degree in history and anthropology, accepted the invitation: “I fell in love with their model of the longhouse, people making blankets, the spindle whorls, the welcome figure, and the regalia case.” He’s also keen to help animate the exhibit. “What can we add to make it more exciting for the museum-goer? We could possibly hear people speaking, drumming, or singing Welcome Songs.”

    He also sees a need for more stories about the impact of colonialism on his people, through the eyes of the Snunéymuxw themselves. “How do we work the Indian Residential School experience into this? The discovery of coal?” William adds that when the Hudson’s Bay Company first showed interest in mining coal, the Company didn’t reveal that they would sell it. “Our people traded; that was our currency.”

    The museum plans to move a rejuvenated Snunéymuxw exhibit to the front of the gallery space. Curator Aimee Greenaway says this will give it the weight it deserves, and will “reposition these stories.” Aimee sees this as part of a larger, necessary shift. “Our internal wiring is to tailor to interests and research, but there are also overlooked histories, from Metis to Jewish and Black histories.”

    Chinatown, circa 1958. Photo: Nanaimo Museum R5-13

    During the pandemic, the museum is discovering new ways to share stories, whether through online programming, one-on-one visits developed through an innovative “Bubble Buddies” project, or self-guided tours. Challenging and exciting times are ahead for the seven full-time and five part-time staff members. Nanaimo is a key intersection for travellers going to or from Vancouver Island; the Museum itself could become an important crossroad to reconciliation and understanding.

    For William White, collaboration with the museum will “give people voices who have not been heard before. This development is the first time in history that the songs, values, and images will be brought forward for a new time and place.” He remembers listening to recordings of the late Anderson Tommy, who grew up at what is now Departure Bay. “His old people taught him a Welcome Song, and he remembered his old people telling him — he almost cried — you will hear this song echo long after we are gone.”

    Nanaimo Museum: Located at the corner of Commercial and Museum Way.

    Q’Puthet Unwinus, Snuneymuxw cultural research project, 1970s. Left to right: Elder Hazel Good; Q’Puthet Unwinus project coordinator Kay George; Anderson Tommy; and Roy Aleck. Photo: Courtesy of William White

  • 1 Jun 2021 5:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A street view of Tashme in 1942. Tashme was the largest Japanese internment camp in British Columbia with over 2,600 people incarcerated there at its peak. Nikkei National Museum, 1994.69.4.27

    The following story is the winner of the 2020 Anne and Philip Yandle Best Article Award. It appeared in the Spring 2020 edition of British Columbia History magazine.

    By Jacqueline Pearce and Jean-Pierre Antonio

    Michiko Kihira is the chief translator. Jean-Pierre Antonio is an assistant translator. Jacqueline Pearce of Burnaby is a grant recipient of the 2019 BCHF Centennial Legacy Fund in the amount of $4,300 for her Japanese-Canadian internment camp haiku translation project. The goal of this project is to translate at least 300 of over 600 haiku poems contained in two unpublished documents written in Tashme internment camp as well as to translate a small selection of haiku from other camps. There are few published records of haiku written in internment camps, and the project aims to compile the scattered information and examples into a single collection, so that this very unique part of Canadian literature and history can gain wider recognition.

    It took almost three hours to drive to Sunshine Valley from Fort Langley. It is about 22 kilometres past Hope on the Crowsnest Highway. Our destination was the Sunshine Valley Tashme Museum, a relatively new institution dedicated to the memory of life in the Tashme internment camp. Tashme was the largest internment camp in British Columbia for Japanese Canadians. The camp, built on the site of what was previously a working farm, was in operation between October 1942 and August 1946. At its peak, over 2,600 people were incarcerated there.

    A large percentage of the Nikkei adults and children had previously lived in Vancouver and smaller communities along the coast, and they were accustomed to urban living and modern amenities such as indoor plumbing, heating, cars, and stores. In Tashme, the majority lived in 347 uninsulated tar paper shacks. Each shack was occupied by a family of at least five people. Smaller families either shared a shack or were housed in an “apartment” building. Barracks housed young, single women and a large barn housed single men. In addition, there was separate housing for the non-Japanese supervisors from the BC Security Commission and for the RCMP officers and teachers, many of the latter sent by churches. No prison walls were needed to keep people inside the camp, since the isolated location, rugged landscape, and the hostile social climate of the province were considered enough of a deterrent to thoughts of escape.

    Over the years since the camp closed, few people passing by on the adjacent highway were aware of the site’s internment history. Today however, there is a newly erected Provincial historical marker on Alpine Boulevard, just off the highway, which provides basic information about Tashme and the people who were confined there. Visitors who pull off the highway and step inside the Tashme museum at 14781 Alpine Boulevard will find an opportunity to look through a window into the past and gain a deeper understanding of the harsh realities of the internees’ lives.

    On the day we visited, brilliant sunshine was reflecting off a metre of newly-fallen snow, and the entire valley looked deceptively like an idyllic winter postcard. However, after a couple of hours touring the museum and the grounds and listening to the curator, Ryan Ellan, we were left with no illusions about this picturesque place. The museum provides plenty of detailed information about the site’s internment camp years through archival photos, maps, personal artifacts, and the interior of a painstakingly recreated shack that accurately shows visitors what the cramped kitchen and tiny bedrooms were like.

    Kitchen utensils and personal items look as if they have been set aside for a moment and will be picked up again when the family returns. Through these tangible details, visitors can begin to understand the dramatically reduced circumstances that the internees endured. At the time of our visit, the cold of winter penetrating the thin walls helped evoke another layer of the internees’ experience.

    In addition to the museum, visitors can also see the outside of a cabin used for Tashme primary school classes, a long, barracks-style building used to house unmarried women, the remains of two silos and the massive barn that was used to house single men. All of these buildings are original and in need of restoration after so many years of neglect. Even so, the barn, despite its current condition, is awe-inspiring. The massive ceiling struts, visible from the second-floor loft space, suggest the interior of a cathedral. The comparison, however, relates only to the sense of open space. Standing there for a brief 15 minutes, the icy chill penetrated our layers of winter clothing. There is no insulation in the building, and during the years the internees slept there, sleeping cubicles were separated only by thin curtains.

    The Stop of Interest Sign erected in 2017 on Alpine Boulevard, just off the highway. Jacqueline Pearce

    At one end of the barn there was a wood burning stove for cooking, but it could not possibly have provided enough heat to warm up the vast space. We had to wonder: What did the internees think about their day-to-day life in Tashme? How did they feel about the deprivations, or about having previous routines and relationships suddenly taken away? How did they manage the hardships?

    There is not a great deal of first-hand information available today to let us know the internal thoughts and feelings of those who lived in the camp. Many of the adult internees have passed on, and those who were children in the camps are now entering their 80s and 90s, and the decades have taken away many of the sharper details of their memories. Perhaps, however, some of the emotional insights can be found in the rediscovered haiku poetry of Tashme.

    Few examples of personal writing remain from the internment camps. Most were lost, destroyed or discarded over time. This makes the collection of materials recently donated by the Sameshima family to the archives of Nikkei Place, the National Japanese-Canadian Museum and Cultural Centre in Burnaby, particularly unique and significant. In the collection there are two remarkable volumes called Yamabiko (Mountain Echo) and Reiko (Spiritual Light).

    They contain over 600 haiku composed by members of the Tashme Haiku Club during the years of internment. Their existence today is due to the care of one of the club members, Sukeo “Sam” Sameshima. He kept the two mimeographed volumes safe for over 70 years as he moved from home to home after internment, before finally settling in Coaldale, Alberta. It says a great deal about his love of haiku and his determination to not let the life he led in Tashme be forgotten.

    Who was Sam Sameshima?

    Sukeo “Sam” Sameshima, was born November 23, 1915, in New Westminster. He was the second of six children born to Saichi and Kumi Sameshima. According to the Sameshima family, Saichi most likely came to Canada in 1907, and Kumi arrived in 1913. Saichi repaired shoes and established a business in New Westminster, then later in Nanaimo.

    By 1920, with four children, the family returned to Japan for the children’s schooling. In 1931, at age sixteen, Sukeo returned to BC. He apprenticed in New Westminster as a shoe repairman, then returned to Japan again briefly. When he came back to BC, he settled in Port Alberni to open his own shoe repair shop. In a 2002 interview published in Frogpond, the journal of the Haiku Society of America, Sukeo states that it was in Port Alberni that he was introduced to writing haiku. He joined a local haiku club called Kamome (Seagull) in 1940.

    After Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941, and BC’s 100-mile exclusion zone was created in 1942, Sukeo was sent to Hastings Park in Vancouver to await his internment destination. From there he was sent to Tashme, where he set up another shoe repair shop and also helped to establish Tashibi, the Tashme Haiku Club. It was towards the end of internment that the two haiku volumes, Reiko and Yamabiko, were compiled. In Tashme, Sukeo married Kazue “Kay” Shimozawa, who gave birth to their first child during their incarceration in the camp.

    When the Pacific War of the Second World War ended, the internees were released from Tashme, but were not allowed to return to the coast. Sukeo and his young family moved to a Canadian Air Force base in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. He had a temporary job there, helping other Nikkei as they traveled across Canada to new homes outside of BC. In 1948, he moved his family to Alberta to be closer to his wife’s relatives, and he opened a shoe repair shop in Coaldale, Alberta in 1949. He worked there until his retirement in 1992. Apart from a ten-year period after the war, Sukeo continued writing haiku until his death on October 5, 2017, a month short of his 102nd birthday.

    As well as the publication of ten of Sukeo’s haiku in Frogpond, seven of his translated haiku were published in Paper Doors: An Anthology of Japanese-Canadian Poetry in 1981, and two translated poems appeared in Haïku: Anthologie Canadienne/Canadian Anthology in 1985. His haiku were also included in Japanese-language publications. Thanks to his love of haiku, the two Tashme collections he helped create and safeguard, Reiko and Yamabiko, still exist today.

    The publication Yamabiko consists of haiku from numerous authors. Its cover features a handdrawn illustration of the mountains surrounding Tashme and incorporates details of the camp, 1946. Nikkei National Museum, 2017.

    Haiku is a short form of poetry that has been popular in Japan for several hundred years. In fact, the word haiku is both singular and plural. It was brought to Canada by Japanese immigrants in the early 20th century. Traditionally, haiku tends to use natural imagery to express ideas and emotions associated with a particular moment of experience.

    Many of the haiku in Reiko and Yamabiko draw from the natural setting of the camp, including the gentle agricultural valley and the rugged mountains surrounding it. The internees also used imagery from their own lives, recording both their industrious and their leisure activities. The portrait of life in Tashme that emerges is complex. Their work conveys the beauty of the environment they lived in, but the natural imagery they incorporated also speaks clearly of pain, worry, and loneliness.

    For example, the following haiku from Reiko was written by one of the second-generation1 poets, who went by the pen name Kiyoshi. No pronoun is given in the first section, but one might assume the poet is talking about himself, walking alone and perhaps feeling the weight of being cut off from his previous activities and friends, yet, at the same time, beauty is found in the autumn leaves that form a path underfoot.

    一人行けば  足音淋し  落葉道     きよし/Kiyoshi
    walking alone/a solitary person walks/goes
    footsteps sound lonely
    fallen leaves path
    walking by myself
    the lonely sound of footsteps
    on a path of fallen leaves

    The following eight haiku, also written by second-generation poets, convey a keen sensory awareness of the environment and reflect some of the day to day activities of camp life (the poet’s pen name is given on the right).

    ほやほやと  霞につつまれ  冬の川     雪男/Yukio
    mist covered
    winter river
    cover of mist
    rising off
    the winter river

    カチカチと  ハンマーの音  冬の朝   美津子/Mitsuko
    hammer’s sound
    winter morning
    crack crack
    the sound of a hammer
    winter morning

    寝ね足らぬ  目にストーブを  抱きけり    綾子/Ayako
    lack of sleep/sleepy
    eyes to/on stove
    huddle round
    feeling sleepy
    our eyes on the stove
    as we huddle around it

    晝の鐘 いてつく路を  かける児等 正茶/Shocha or Seicha
    noon bell
    frozen road
    running children/child
    noon bell
    children running
    on the frozen road

    降りしきる 雪の奥から 犬吠えり      きよゑ/Kiyoé
    falling heavily
    far off snow
    dog barking
    heavy snowfall
    in the distance
    a dog barking

    クリスマス カード手に手に 子等の笑み  かよ子/Kayoko
    Christmas card/cards
    holding in his/her hand
    children’s smiles
    Christmas cards
    in every hand
    children’s smiles

    年惜む 失業の身 家にあり         肇/Hajime
    lament/regret the year’s end
    still unemployed
    sitting at home
    regretting the year’s end
    I sit at home
    still unemployed

    床の母 かかへて見せる 雪の街  正茶/Socha or Seicha
    Mother in bed
    help sit up/hold up in arms
    can see snowy town
    bed-ridden mother
    I hold her up
    to see the snowy town

    Sameshima’s own haiku show a great sensitivity to the beauty and power of the natural environment surrounding the internment camp, which seems to both reflect and inform his inner state of being. In the following example from Yamabiko, he notices the simple beauty of the pattern of frost that has formed on a discarded bicycle. The haiku describes a direct moment of observation, but at the same time, the image of a bicycle, thoughtlessly dropped and left behind, might also be read as a reflection of Sameshima’s feelings as a Canadian internee, tossed aside and forgotten by his country. Since we cannot confirm with Sameshima himself, we cannot know for sure if this metaphorical meaning was intended.

    霜の花 自転車無惨に 放られあり
    frost flower
    bicycle thoughtlessly
    thrown away / left behind
    frost flowers
    a forgotten bicycle
    left behind

    In the following haiku (also from Yamabiko), we get a picture of Sameshima walking through the forest, surrounded by trees, their tops rising into the blue sky. His eyes, too, are drawn upward, and there is a sense of his spirit lifted as well.

    早春の 梢々が 青空へ
    early spring
    treetops treetops
    to the blue sky
    early spring
    so many treetops
    rising to the blue sky

    The following are further examples of Sameshima’s haiku from Yamabiko, with the kanji and direct translation provided. For brevity, we haven’t provided the polished English haiku, but have instead left the interpretation up to the reader.

    耕馬帰る 夕日抱きし 並木道
    plough horse returns
    setting sun embraced
    tree-lined road

    夏の朝 口笛の子に 出会ひけり
    summer morning
    whistling children
    meet / met

    理髪師の 日向に佇てり 長閑なる
    barber in the sunlight
    tranquil / peaceful is

    腕時計 はづし涼しき 夕風に
    take off
    cool evening wind

    秋の燈に 眼鏡のケース そと置かる
    autumn lamp-light
    glasses case
    gently put down

    冬の灯に 帽子二三が かかりあり
    winter lamplight
    hats two or three
    are hung

    The following haiku of Sameshima’s are from Reiko:

    春天へ 警報黒く 吊られたる
    spring sky in
    warning/alarm bell black
    is hung

    春水の 溢るるバケツ 持上ぐる
    spring water
    overflowing bucket
    lift/lift up

    馬ぴんと 耳を立てたり 雪解の陽
    horse straight up
    ears stand
    snow-melting sunshine

     猫の髭 衣裁つ鋏 置かれけり
    cat’s love
    fabric/garment scissors
    put down

    つばめ大きく 舞ひ朝の ビル高き
    swallow big looping
    in the morning
    building high/tall

    路地出でて チューリップの陽の ありにけり
    lane/alley exit
    tulip/s in the sunshine
    there is/are

    朝空へ 鯉幟なる 風がある
    morning sky to
    carp banner full
    wind blows/enough wind2

    荷車の 子等積んで駈く 秋の晴
    hand cart/wagon
    full of children/loaded with pulled
    autumn clear day

    雪の朝 牧師の瞳に 触れ合ひぬ
    snowy morning
    priest’s eyes (glance)
    (my eyes) meet/met

    凍つる夜の 夜光時計を 見さだめぬ
    freezing night
    dimly lit clock
    checking the time

    冬の灯の 棚の古本 見つめゐる
    winter lamp light
    old books on shelf
    gazing at

    小さき家 雪の朝日の 煙上ぐる
    small house/houses
    sunrise in snow
    smoke rises

    バンの雪 栗毛の馬が 踏み出づる
    snow on the carriage/van
    chestnut (coloured) horse
    steps out into the snow

    ひしひしと 路地を通りぬ 星冴ゆる
    shuffling through the alley
    stars shine bright
    look up

    “Tashibi” cartouche cropped from the cover of Yamabiko. Nikkei National Museum, 2017.

    In his book, Within the Barbed Wire Fence, renowned Nikkei poet Takeo Ujo Nakano talks about his experience interned in Camp Angler in Ontario. This camp was designed to house German prisoners of war captured in Europe, but was pressed into use as a camp for Japanese-Canadians deemed a danger to the state. Nakao noted that “Because of the tedium of camp life, [the haiku club] quickly attracted members.”3

    Haiku clubs (as well as other clubs and activities organized in the camps) broke the monotony of camp life. In his online article on the recently created Tashme Historical Project website, independent scholar Eiji Okawa suggests that for the haiku club members, writing haiku was more than a hobby, or leisure activity to fill the days’ empty hours. He says, “It gave them the avenue to express their emotions and visualize their heart and soul during the dreadful internment years.”4

    He goes on to say that writing haiku, “facilitated cultural adaptation to the environment of Tashme.”5 Reading even a sample of the Tashme haiku, we can find support for his points. For example, after the tragic drowning of a child in one of the two rivers flowing past the camp, writing haiku may have offered a cathartic experience for a poet known by the pen-name, Koson (Lonely Village). The first haiku below refers to the tower at the edge of camp, which held an emergency bell, or siren. There is the sense of both the sound and the people’s panic rising.

    非常警報  人沸きたたせ  夏天へ
    emergency bell
    people upset/panic/disturbed
    to the summer sky
    people panicking
    the emergency bell rises
    to the summer sky

    いたいけな  死肢硬直  青草冷ゆる
    corpse grown stiff
    green grass becomes cold
    a sweet child
    limbs stiffening
    the green grass chills

    夏天へ  命奪へる  水音鋭き
    to the summer sky
    life robbed/stolens
    harp sound of water
    a life is taken
    into the summer sky
    the sharp sound of water

    In these three haiku, the expression is restrained. The situation and the poet’s emotions are not explicitly stated. Yet, there is an implied sense of sudden deep and painful emotion, which the poet is perhaps coming to terms with through the act of writing.

    Within the simple imagery of haiku, the poets were able to give voice to deep emotions they might not otherwise have been able to share. The haiku club used language to quietly reclaim a small, but significant, agency in their lives, presumably unobserved by camp authorities. As with other circumstances of internment, the name of the camp, Tashme, was imposed on the Nikkei. The name was created by the BC Security Commission as a kind of anagram, combining the first two letters of the names of three commissioners — Austin T. Taylor (TA), a prominent Vancouver businessman, John Shirras (SH) of the BC Provincial Police and Frederick John Mead (ME) of the RCMP.

    The members of the haiku club, however, reinvented the name Tashme, using Japanese characters. They chose three kanji that can be read with almost the same sounds as the three parts of the name, “ta-shi-mi.” Ta means “many/plenty.” Shi means “strong resolution/will.” Mi means “beauty.” They could have chosen other kanji characters that can be read with the same sounds, but in selecting these particular kanji, the haiku club imbued the name, Tashme, with new meaning. For them, the camp name no longer referred to three BC Security commissioners; instead, it expressed the haiku club’s goal of creating plenty of beauty through their own resolution and will.

    Translating Haiku

    While haiku are very short and simple, they can be difficult to translate. The Japanese is often intentionally ambiguous, with no pronouns included and no clear indication of whether a subject or object is singular or plural. Each haiku can be interpreted in several different ways. In addition, a single kanji (Japanese character) may have more than one meaning, and some kanji used in the 1940s and earlier are no longer in use today. Sometimes, metaphors and references have been lost to time, or do not translate well. In other cases, the original poem’s rhythm and sound-play can be difficult to convey in English. Keeping these considerations in mind, we have created a rough direct English translation of each Tashme haiku, followed by a more polished English haiku version (for the sake of brevity, we have not included all of the polished versions here).

    With the English haiku, we have attempted to keep as close to the Japanese as possible, providing an interpretation that we feel makes sense given what we know about the context in which the poems were written. While the Japanese poems tend to be written in a pattern of 5-7-5 on, or sound units, we have not attempted to translate these into 5-7-5 English syllables. To do so would impose too many extra words on the poems. We have tried to retain the brevity, focused imagery and mood of the original poems.

    This re-imagined Tashme can be seen very clearly on the covers of the haiku collections, Yamabiko and Reiko, in the lower left-hand corner in a gourd-shaped cartouche. Its creation was a subtle act of autonomy, an indication that through writing, the Nikkei internees would at least see this new environment in the way that they chose to see it — a way that allowed them to maintain a burning ember of their cultural and human identity. This ember is also kept alive through their haiku. These two collections, Yamabiko and Reiko, are invaluable documents that record the internal lives and the extraordinary endurance of the internees.

    The authors would like to thank archivist Linda Kawamoto Reid and collections manager Lisa Kiyomi Uyeda at Nikkei Place for their help and patience during our visits to the Nikkei National Museum archives, Ryan Ellan, curator/owner of the Tashme Museum, for his guided tour of the museum and site, and Rachel Enomoto, haiku poet and translator, for her review of selected translations. We are also grateful to Sam (Sukeo) and Kay (Kazue) Sameshima for their donation of documents and photographs to the Nikkei archives and for the interview we conducted with Sam via correspondence and the help of his wife Kay, shortly before his death.


    Yamabiko, Tashme Haiku Club, 1945, Kazue and Sukeo Sameshima fonds 2017., Nikkei National Museum Archives, Burnaby
    Reiko, Tashme Haiku Club, 1946, Kazue and Sukeo Sameshima fonds 2017., Nikkei National Museum Archives, Burnaby
    “Notes from the Prairie: an interview with and haiku by Sukeo Sameshima” by Bruce Ross in Frogpond: The Journal of the Haiku Society of America 25:2, 2002, pp. 53–56
    Paper Doors: Anthology of Japanese-Canadian Poetry, Gerry Osamu Shikatani and David Aylward, eds., Coach House Press, Toronto, 1981
    Haïku: Anthologie Canadienne / Canadian Anthology edited by Dorothy Howard and André Duhaime, Editions Asticou, Hull, Quebec, 1985


    1. Second generation (Nisei) refers to Japanese-Canadians born in Canada to parents who immigrated to Canada from Japan. The generation born in Japan is the first generation (Issei).
    2. A carp banner is a koi fish-shaped cloth or paper banner (or wind sock) that is hung to celebrate Boys’ Day (now called Children’s Day) in May.
    3. Ujō Nakano and Leatrice M. Willson Chan, Within the Barbed Wire Fence: a Japanese Man’s Account of his Internment in Canada (Toronto: James Lorimer & Company, 2012), 70.
    4. Eiji Okawa, “Tashme Poetry Club,” Tashme 1942–1946 Historical Project,, assessed April 10, 2019. Quoted with permission.
    5. Eiji Okawa, “Tashme Poetry Club”.

    Jacqueline Pearce is an award-winning haiku poet and children’s book author based in Burnaby. Jacquie has degrees in English Literature and Environmental Studies and an interest in local history. Her first novel for children focused on the friendship between two girls of Sikh and Japanese heritage in the Vancouver Island community of Paldi during the Second World War.

    Born in Jamaica, Jean-Pierre Antonio came to BC as a child. He grew up in Duncan and graduated from Cowichan Senior High School. He graduated from UBC with a BFA before taking an MFA at York and a BEd at the University of Toronto. He is currently teaching English at Suzuka University in Japan.

  • 17 May 2021 2:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    January 2021 docking of SS Master at Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards.
    Photo courtesy of Seaspan Shipyards

    From the Summer issue of British Columbia History

    By Robert G. Allan

    There are few vessels in BC waters a century or more old. A few vintage yachts remain, but seldom do workboats achieve that distinction. A notable exception is SS Master, approaching her centennial in 2022 and, according to our research, the sole surviving wooden-hulled, steam-powered tug afloat in the world.

    Master was built by noted shipwright Arthur Moscrop on the shores of False Creek in Vancouver. She worked for various companies connected to the local construction industry, most notably Evans, Coleman & Evans, forerunner of Ocean Cement Ltd. Her duties consisted mostly of towing logs and barges laden with sand, gravel, limestone, and coal along the coast.

    Supplanted in 1959 by steel, diesel-powered tugs, Master was left to deteriorate. However, in 1962 the local branch of the World Ship Society saw the promise in this fine little ship and restored her to a semblance of her past glory. That work has subsequently been taken over by the SS Master Society, a small group of volunteers who for nearly 60 years have shown her off up and down the coast, educating residents and visitors alike about the important role of tugboats in the development of the BC economy.

    In 2018 the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada recognized “Tugboats of Canada’s West Coast” as “an Event of National Historic Significance” with the unveiling of a plaque at Granville Island, and specifically acknowledging SS Master. She also received the Beaver Medal for maritime excellence from the Maritime Museum of BC.

    But age is relentless, and old wooden tugs need care beyond the skillset of even the most dedicated volunteers. The SS Master Society is therefore raising awareness and money to see this iconic steam tug preserved for decades to come. The SS Master Centenary Project aims to raise $3.5 million for a significant restoration effort. The scope of work covers extensive hull, deck, and bulwark repairs, steam machinery overhaul, and general upkeep.

    This maritime world treasure deserves the utmost care and attention of all British Columbians.

    To learn more, or to make a donation, visit

    SS Master. January 2021. Safety approved January 19, 2021

  • 11 May 2021 2:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Mark Forsythe

    “Smith was a very ordinary sort of man. He was in his late thirties at this time, smoked rollings, used the standard Association saddle and from the top of his head to his heels was one straight line, which some people say is a sign of stubbornness and others attribute to Irish ancestry.” — Breaking Smith’s Quarter Horse by Paul St. Pierre (Ryerson Press, 1966)

    Fictional cowboy Smith ambled out of Paul St. Pierre’s imagination at Big Creek in the Chilcotin where he spent years mining stories and characters for CBC Television’s Cariboo Country (1959–1967). The show launched the acting career of 60-year-old Chief Dan George in his role as Ol’ Antoine, and spawned novels, including the classic Breaking Smith’s Quarter Horse.

    St. Pierre’s wry storytelling and realistic portrayal of ranch life, cowboys, and Indigenous people earned high praise and a special honour — the Joe Marten Award for Preservation of Cowboy Heritage from the BC Cowboy Heritage Society. In later years, he lived in Fort Langley, but his heart remained in the Chilcotin until his death in 2014 at age 90. His headstone reads: “This wasn’t my idea.”

    For a sense of real cowboy culture, visit the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin in Williams Lake, home to the BC Cowboy Hall of Fame, administered by the BC Cowboy Heritage Society. Saddles, spurs, and cowboy memorabilia are displayed along with stories about the people behind them. The Hall of Fame highlights more than 140 pioneering cowboys, cowgirls, and ranchers; early inductees include bare-back champion Leonard Palmantier, a 1920s Williams Lake Stampede star who could ride a bucking horse backwards.

    There’s singer and champion yodeller Shirley Field who hosted the Cowboys Sweetheart Show, performed at the Grand Ole Opry, and toured with Marty Robbins. Louie Bates was a Best All-Around Cowboy at the Williams Lake Stampede and a Second World War veteran who was born on the nearby Sugar Cane Reserve, one of many Indigenous cowboys.

    Recent inductees include the Bayliff Family for their enduring dedication to ranching that spans four generations, and Allison Everett, a Williams Lake teacher-librarian who competes in rodeos, raises and trains horses, and teaches rodeo skills. (All profiles are on the BC Cowboy Society’s website.)

    Cowboy and ranching culture reaches back to the gold-rush era when newspaperman D.W. Higgins observed that miners “expected to scoop up the gold by the handful and live at ease evermore.” They also needed to eat.

    Mark McMillan, president of the BC Cowboy Heritage Society, thinks the cattle ranching industry is central to the story of modern British Columbia. “Cowboys and cattle drives followed the miners to supply them with beef, and many started their own ranches along the way,” he explains. “When the gold ran out, the miners left…the cowboys and ranchers stayed, and many are still in their original family location to this day.”

    The agreement to showcase the Cowboy Hall of Fame at the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin was made between McMillan and Diana French, an author, former museum board member, and its past president. The deal was sealed with a handshake. Says Mark, “The Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin is a natural home … It’s in the heart of cowboy country and a huge ranching community.”

    In 2017 the museum pulled up stakes from its downtown Williams Lake location and moved to the Tourism Discovery Centre, a striking log and timber structure beside the main highway. (Constructed by local log home builders, its centre post beam is 52 feet (15.8 metres) long, cut from a 745-year-old-tree in Bella Coola.)

    The museum reflects the history of the vast Cariboo Chilcotin region, from ranching to railways, forestry, and medicine. There are programs for youth, interactive educational kits for the classroom, and plans for virtual tours.

    “We also offer a few photo collections on our website, as well as our new Cariboo Strong: Resiliency in the Face of the 2017 Wildfires exhibit online,” adds Davana Mahon. With a staff of three, the museum relies on an active volunteer base and is eager to expand membership and think of new ways to engage the public.

    Last spring it hosted a saddle-cleaning workbee with expert saddle-maker Mark Denny (also a recipient of the Joe Marten Award for Preservation of Cowboy Heritage). This helped restore the museum’s saddle collection and gave horse lovers a unique hands-on experience. Just like a good pair of jeans, it was a perfect fit.

    The Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin is located at B-1660 Broadway Ave South, Williams Lake. The BC Cowboy Hall of Fame Categories include Working Cowboy, Competitive, Pioneer, Horseman, Artistic, Family, Century Ranch, and Builder of Western Culture. Nominations continue until November 1. More information is available at, or contact the museum at or 250-392-7404.

  • 4 May 2021 2:32 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    These watercolour sketch maps show some of the Indian Reserves Peter O’Reilly’s work touched. Source: Indian Reserve Commission. Federal Collection; Minutes of Decision. Correspondence and Sketches, Volume 9. Digitized by the Union of BC Indian Chiefs Research Department and Resource Centre

    By Kelly Black

    Since the 1960s, Point Ellice House in Victoria has engaged visitors with stories of tea, croquet, romance, and high society. [1] If you have ever visited this provincial heritage site, you probably came for afternoon tea, a fixture of the visitor experience for more than 30 years. Of course, there’s much more to the site than tea on the lawn, as the Vancouver Island Local History Society is demonstrating since we took over management of the site in 2019. We are working to understand Point Ellice House as a “historical hub,” a site connected to its neighbourhood, the wider city of Victoria, and to British Columbia’s and Canada’s legacies of colonization.

    As the executive director of Point Ellice House Museum and Gardens, I like to point out to visitors an interpretive plaque at the site. It’s one of those provincial Stop of Interest signs from 1969 — you’ve likely seen them at highway rest stops throughout BC. The sign reads:

    Point Ellice House

    This historic residence, built in 1861, was the home of the Honourable Peter O’Reilly. As Gold Commissioner, County Court Judge, and member of the first Legislative Council of British Columbia, he was prominent during the formative years of our province. This graceful house was the O’Reilly home for more than a century, and remains an example of mid-Victorian charm.

    I bring visitors to this sign because it’s significant — not for what it tells us about Peter O’Reilly or his home but for what it leaves out. Every job O’Reilly ever had with the colonial and provincial governments is listed on the plaque — except for his 18 years as Indian Reserve Commissioner. From 1880 to 1898, O’Reilly acted on behalf of the Federal and Provincial governments to set out, eliminate, reduce, or, in some cases, expand Indian Reserves across the province. Of the more than 600 reserves in BC, O’Reilly had a role in nearly all of them. [2]

    The omission of O’Reilly’s time as Indian Reserve Commissioner at a provincial heritage site and on a Stop of Interest sign was not simply an oversight or mistake; it was by design. Interpretive and programming documents from the last few decades regularly omitted O’Reilly’s influence on the colonial geography of the province. Instead, past managers and curators focused on the domestic space, on privileging romantic narratives of Victorian-era courtship, afternoon tea, and roses. The idea that colonization was inevitable, is complete, and is disconnected from the everyday life of settlers remains a pervasive and troubling narrative in BC and Canada. [3]

    Historian and geographer Kenneth Brealey argues that O’Reilly’s time as Indian Reserve Commissioner is “the framework upon which our own contemporary provincial geography remains suspended.” [4] In other words, the continued existence of Indian Reserves — on a map or in daily life — reveals that colonization is not simply a past event; it’s ongoing. [5]

    Interpreting and narrating the past is a primary objective of public history. As archaeologist and anthropologist Joanne Hammond reminds us, “public histories that paint Canada’s story as inevitable, necessary, and beneficent are dangerous because they work — and not just in the past.” [6] Narratives that obfuscate or omit the work of colonization remain prominent because they have been built up over time and reinforced, and the Stop of Interest signs are one example of this. [7] (See Hammond, “Decolonizing BC’s Roadside History,” British Columbia History 53.4, Winter 2020.)

    There can be no reconciliation without truth, something that white settler heritage sites such as Point Ellice House must work to address. Borrowing a term from academics Alissa Macoun and Elizabeth Strakosch, I think about making the past and present of colonization visible as “explaining settlers to ourselves.” [8]

    When we started at Point Ellice House, our non-profit society began a reassessment and overhaul of the dated interpretation and training documents. We also continue to reimagine site programming; we’ve dropped 30 years of declining afternoon tea service in favour of storytelling and exhibits. Central to these changes is interpreting the house and its families within the context of the British Empire and settler colonialism. A new interpretive panel in O’Reilly’s study reads:

    The Geography of Settler Colonialism

    Peter O’Reilly was BC’s Indian Reserve Commissioner, responsible for assigning reserve lands without treaty. He travelled the province from 1880 to 1898, returning to this room to make decisions that would have devastating impacts on First Nations peoples. Many First Nations reported that he set out reserves hastily and without due consultation. In several cases, he assigned reserves while leaders were absent. O’Reilly had been instructed to consider any First Nations land that was not occupied by houses or cultivation as “waste.” The view that Indigenous people were not making “proper” use of the land was prominent in Canada; today, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls on us to reject such concepts, which were used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous lands and peoples.

    The updated visitor experience at Point Ellice House makes connections between the everyday life of a privileged Victoria family and the everyday work of empire and colonization. At the direction of Prime Minister John A. Macdonald, O’Reilly’s brother in-law Joseph Trutch, and others, Peter O’Reilly shaped the geographic violence of colonization in British Columbia. Everyday artifacts on display inside the house speak to these connections — a desk, an ink well, tea cups, riding boots, etc. The O’Reillys went about their lives gardening, painting, cooking, and entertaining as a colonial project unfolded around them and because of them. This remains true for most non-Indigenous people in British Columbia today.

    Understanding Point Ellice House or other heritage sites in this way does not prohibit interpretation of personal and familial narratives of love, loss, and life experience, but it does reshape them. Peter O’Reilly’s work as Indian Reserve Commissioner was all but expunged from the visitor experience for 50 years; it may take us that much time to untangle and repair the generational influence of these obfuscations and omissions. [9]

    Explaining settlers to ourselves is a call to action — for those involved with public histories — to make visible the disruptive processes of colonization that seek to replace Indigenous peoples with a settler society. At Point Ellice House, our response to this call begins with the understanding that the site is more than a family home; it’s an axis that connects tea parties to dispossession and roses with reserves.


    1. “Stepping back into history.” The Daily Colonist, December 17, 1967.
    2. Kenneth G. Brealey, “Travels from Point Ellice: Peter O’Reilly and the Indian Reserve System in British Columbia,” BC Studies, Autumn/Winter, No. 115/6, 1997/1998, pp. 181-236.
    3. Liam Britten, “Homework assignment to list ‘positive’ stories about residential schools under investigation,”
    4. Brealey, p. 235
    5. Patrick Wolfe, “Settler colonialism and the elimination of the Native.” Journal of Genocide Research, 8(4), 2006, pp. 387-409. doi: 10.1080/14623520601056240
    6. Joanne Hammond, “Decolonizing BC’s Roadside History,”
    7. Emma Battell Lowman and Adam J. Barker, Settler: Identity and Colonialism in 21st Century Canada. Black Point, NS: Fernwood Publishing, 2015.
    8. Alissa Macoun and Elizabeth Strakosch. “The ethical demands of settler colonial theory,” Settler Colonial Studies, 3: 3-04 (2013), pp. 426-443, doi: 10.1080/2201473X.2013.810695
    9. Erin Thompson, “Why Just ‘Adding Context’ to Controversial Monuments May Not Change Minds,”

    Kelly Black, PhD, is a researcher, writer, historian, and collector of books. He is executive director of Point Ellice Museum & Gardens/Vancouver Island Local History Society and adjunct professor in the Department of History at Vancouver Island University. He is a settler currently residing within the territory of the Malahat Nation and Cowichan Tribes.

    Below: watch Kelly Black’s presentation, The Rooms Where it Happened: Practicing Public History at Victoria’s House Museum.

  • 8 Apr 2021 7:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The British Columbia Historical Federation is pleased to announce this year’s finalists for the annual Lieutenant Governor’s Historical Writing Competition. The 2021 book awards gala will take place online on June 5 at 7 p.m. The award celebrates books that make significant contributions to the historical literature of British Columbia. Congratulations to all the finalists whose works keep British Columbia’s rich history vibrant and relevant.


    Pioneer Churches of British Columbia and the Salish Sea: An Explorer’s Guide

    Author: Liz Bryan

    Publisher: Heritage House Publishing

    For many European settlers who arrived on Vancouver Island in the late 19th century, building a church was as important as establishing a homestead or erecting a school. The church was the heart of the community. Today, although demographics have shifted and church attendance has waned, many of those early structures are still standing.

    Pioneer Churches of Vancouver Island and the Salish Sea features more than 40 surviving churches whose construction dates back to the 1800s. It explores the architecture; the local history of the area; and the stories of the builders, worshippers, clergy members, those who are buried in the adjoining graveyards. Divided into geographical sections — Victoria, Esquimalt and the Saanich Peninsula, the Cowichan Valley, Salt Spring Island, Central Vancouver Island, and the North Island — this book is a beautifully photographed, easy-to-follow guide for anyone interested in exploring these architectural treasures and learning more about the history surrounding them.

    Liz Bryan is a journalist, author, photographer, and co-founder of Western Living magazine. Bryan has written several books, including River of Dreams: A Journey through Milk River Country, Stone by Stone: Exploring Ancient Sites on the Canadian Plains, and Country Roads of Western BC: From the Fraser Valley to the Islands.

    A Great Revolutionary Wave: Women and the Vote in British Columbia

    Author: Lara Campbell

    Publisher: UBC Press

    A Great Revolutionary Wave rethinks the complex legacy of suffrage by considering both the successes and limitations of women’s historical fight for political equality. That historical legacy remains relevant today as Canadians continue to grapple with the meaning of justice, inclusion, and equality.

    This book is for readers interested in women’s history, British Columbia history, or the history of women’s fight for political equality, including secondary school and university students. It will also find an audience among those concerned with gender equality and social justice.

    Lara Campbell is a professor of gender, sexuality, and women’s studies at Simon Fraser University. Her publications include Respectable Citizens: Gender, Family, and Unemployment in Ontario’s Great Depression, which received honourable mentions from the Canadian Historical Association and the Canadian Women’s Studies Association. She is a co-author, with Willeen Keough, of Gender History: Canadian Perspectives, the only textbook in the field of Canadian gender history.

    Chinatown Through a Wide Lens: The Hidden Photographs of Yucho Chow

    Author: Catherine Clement

    Publisher: Chinese Canadian Historical Society of British Columbia

    Chinatown Through a Wide Lens: The Hidden Photographs of Yucho Chow, is the story of one remarkable, early photographer whose work was almost forgotten. Yucho Chow was Vancouver’s first Chinese commercial photographer and its most prolific. His lens captured thousands of faces of all skin colours, religious beliefs and backgrounds and chronicled a tumultuous time in Vancouver’s and Canada’s early history. This limited-edition, coffee table book displays 344-pages of long-hidden, community photographs taken by Yucho Chow Studio. The private images showcase the different, marginalized communities that Yucho Chow chronicled in his lifetime, as well as the remarkable stories that accompany these photographs. In English and Chinese. 

    Catherine Clement is a community curator and designer based in Vancouver’s Chinatown. Her work focuses on uncovering and sharing the lesser-known stories of the community.

    British Columbia in Flames: Stories from a Blazing Summer

    Author: Claudia Cornwall

    Publisher: Harbour Publishing

    Like many British Columbians in 2017, Claudia Cornwall found herself glued to the news about the disastrous wildfires across the province. Her worry was personal: her cabin at Sheridan Lake had been in the family for sixty years and was now in danger of destruction. Presented in British Columbia in Flames are stories that illustrate the importance of community. During the 2017 wildfires, people looked after strangers who had no place to go. They shared information. They helped each other rescue and shelter animals. They kept stores open day and night to supply gas, food and comfort to evacuees. This memoir, at once journalistic and deeply personal, highlights the strength with which BC communities can and will come together to face a terrifying force of nature.

    Claudia Cornwall is most recently the author of Battling Melanoma and Catching Cancer (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016 and 2013). Her book At the World’s Edge: Curt Lang’s Vancouver, 1937–1998 (Mother Tongue, 2011) was shortlisted for the City of Vancouver Book Award, and Letter from Vienna: A Daughter Uncovers Her Family’s Jewish Past (Douglas & McIntyre, 1995) was awarded the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize. Cornwall has taught creative writing at Simon Fraser University for many years. She lives in North Vancouver.

    Step into Wilderness: A Pictorial History of Outdoor Exploration in and around the Comox Valley

    Authors: Deborah Griffiths, with Christine Dickinson; Judy Hagen & Catherine Siba

    Publisher: Harbour Publishing

    Step into Wilderness features never-before-seen photos from the Courtenay and District Museum collection, showcasing the growing community’s varied interactions with the wilderness they inhabit, from early hiking and skiing expeditions to encounters with wildlife, afternoon tea in the wilderness, beach races and early outdoor activity clubs. The collection also explores the ways in which inhabitants have altered the landscape, including K’omoks Bay fish traps and stump blasting to clear fields. These unique and arresting photos are complemented by equally engaging accounts of individuals surviving and thriving in the midst of natural beauty and great devastation, including survivors of the great fire of 1922 and pioneer skiers on Forbidden Plateau during the Great Depression.

    Christine Dickinson is an educator with a passion for regional history. She co-authored Atlin: The Story of British Columbia’s Last Gold Rush (Atlin Historical Society, 1995), which received the Lieutenant-Governor’s Award.

    Deborah Griffiths is the executive director of the Courtenay and District Museum and has been involved in curatorship in the Okanagan and on Vancouver Island for over 40 years. She has an MA from Royal Roads University.

    Judy Hagen has been writing her popular “Hunt for History” column for Comox Valley newspapers since 1992. She received an award from the Canadian Museums Association for her book Comox Valley Memories, published by the Courtenay and District Museum in 1993.

    Catherine Siba is the curator of social history at the Courtenay and District Museum. She has led a number of historic digitization projects and has been involved with museum curatorship and research for many years.

    Ernst Vegt, photo editor for Step into Wilderness, has spent 50 years in the graphic arts field specializing in colour reproduction and has taught colour reproduction at VCC, BCIT and Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand.

    Legacy of Trees: Purposeful Wandering in Vancouver’s Stanley Park

    Author: Nina Shoroplova

    Publisher: Heritage House Publishing

    An engaging, informative, and visually stunning tour of the numerous native, introduced, and ornamental tree species found in Vancouver’s Stanley Park, combining a wealth of botanical knowledge with a fascinating social history of the city’s most celebrated landmark.

    Unlike many urban parks, which are entirely cultivated, the area now called Stanley Park was an ancient forest before Canada’s third-largest city grew around it. Tracing the park’s Indigenous roots through its colonial history to its present incarnation as the jewel of Vancouver, visited by eight million locals and tourists annually, Legacy of Trees is a beautiful tribute to the trees that shape Stanley Park’s evolving narrative.

    Nina Shoroplova is a historian, researcher, photographer, and author. Born and raised in Wales, she immigrated to Canada in 1969 and settled for a time at the Douglas Lake Ranch, the subject of her first book, Cattle Ranch: The Story of the Douglas Lake Cattle Company. An avid walker, amateur botanist, and tree enthusiast, she lives three blocks away from Vancouver’s world-famous Stanley Park.

    Silver Rush: British Columbia’s Silvery Slocan 1891-1900

    Author: Peter Smith

    Publisher: Self-published

    Silver Rush tells the story of British Columbia’s “Silvery Slocan.” In the 1890s, mining camps like Sandon, Three Forks, Whitewater and their neighbours; New Denver, Silverton, Slocan City, Kaslo and Nakusp, thrived. Once the most productive mining region in British Columbia, prospectors and miners came from Idaho, Montana and other mining centres to reap the silver harvest. Capitalists flooded in from Spokane, Seattle, Vancouver, and investment centres across North America and the world. Plummeting silver prices, labour troubles and the Klondike gold rush eventually put an end to the silver rush but the legacy of that rush endures to this day.

    Peter Smith was born and raised in Victoria and the Saanich peninsula on Vancouver Island. In the mid-1970s he moved to the Slocan, had breakfast at New Denver’s Newmarket Hotel, and was captivated by the region’s history. Part owner of a mining claim south of Silverton, he eventually moved back to Victoria. He retired as director of the province’s Information Access and Records Service Delivery Division in 2011. He lives in Ladysmith.

    The BC Lieutenant-Governor’s Medal for Historical Writing will be awarded together with $2,500 to the author whose book makes the most significant contribution to the historical literature of British Columbia. The second place winner will receive $1,500 and third place, $500. One book will also be awarded the Community History Award, worth $500. Certificates of Honourable Mention may be awarded to other books as recommended by the judges. New this year will be a people’s choice winner selected by the audience in real time during the awards gala.

  • 25 Feb 2021 2:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Mike, a black and white English sheepdog-terrier cross, was trained to serve bottle beer to customers in the Bowser Hotel, 1937–1941. Mike even collected the money and came back with the change. Photo: Vancouver City Archives, 586-348

    By Glen A. Mofford

    I love a good story. I suppose my appreciation began in childhood when I eagerly looked forward to the nightly bedtime story. I did well at social studies and it only got better in high school when I got an A in History 12.

    I graduated with a BA in history from Simon Fraser University in 1986, then was accepted into an entry-level job in the BC Government. My partner and I moved back to Victoria in July 1986.

    It was in the Ingraham Pub near closing time, while a very drunk fellow was slurring his story about an Island hotel from his past, and I was trying to decipher just what he was saying, that it happened. I had an epiphany—why don’t I take the two things I love most, history and beer, and combine them into a study of the historic saloons, bars, and hotels of Victoria? So that’s what I did.

    Working for the government paid the bills and gave me a little left over to enjoy the occasional Friday night in the pubs. It was in the Ingraham Pub where I heard stories from those around our table, usually retired men, of the places they used to drink in and the humorous or tragic events that took place in those pubs. I began showing up at the pub after work on Fridays more often and with a small notepad so I could write down the stories. I started to learn about the history of hotels and bars long gone from the very people who had frequented them. I wanted to know more and began to ask questions, purposely leading conversations back to events that happened in these old bars.

    Using not only my bar notes but the resources in the Victoria and BC archives, I researched the history of local saloons, bars, and hotels. I found notes from those who had gone before me, leaving lists of hotels compiled from old phone books. That was the beginning of the research for what would be my first book, Aqua Vitae: A History of the Saloons and Hotel Bars of Victoria, 1851–1917. I sent my first book proposal to Taryn Boyd at TouchWood Editions in 2015 with no expectations. After six months, I contacted them and shortly afterwards received a call from Taryn.

    The Riverside Hotel in Courtenay, ca. 1908. Author’s collection

    They liked my proposal, felt it could sell, and picked it up. I shall forever be grateful to Taryn and TouchWood for taking a chance on an unknown writer, yet I felt that the topic was strong, and sales proved us right. Two years later, my second nonfiction history book was released by TouchWood, Along the E&N: A Journey Back to the Historic Hotels of Vancouver Island. The book did very well, spending 22 weeks on the BC Bestseller List. I realized that people loved stories as much as I did, especially when they were about familiar places like local hotels.

    The Covid-19 pandemic put a temporary halt to my live presentations. Following a short adjustment period, I focused on writing a new book while utilizing social media to promote my past books and my current project. I rejoined Facebook with a clear vision to talk about historic hotels. One group lead to three; the most successful, named Historic Hotels & Pubs of British Columbia, now has more than 9,000 members and is still growing.

    The Facebook format, while it limits the amount of text I can use on a given story, has proven to be an excellent means to share and exchange information, photographs, and related ephemera, and to comment on the history of British Columbia’s hotels and drinking establishments. I thought I’d teach others on the subject, but the experience has enriched my knowledge too. It has proven to be an excellent two-way street, where the history of both bygone and existing hotels in BC is examined. My favourite posts are those in which people open up about their families who either worked in or owned one of the historic hotels under discussion.

    Along the E&N: A Journey Back to the Historic Hotels of Vancouver Island cover, designed by Colin Parks.

    This online community has far surpassed my expectations and makes me want to work harder (believe me, it’s a labour of love), uncovering more true stories and discovering old hotels hidden in the mists of time. It has not only enabled me to discover historic hotels I hadn’t known about, but it’s allowed me to find new ways of exploring and sharing hotel history. One example is viewing historic hotels through art — paintings, drawings, sketches — and therefore through the eyes of the artists.

    I’ve learned so much since that day all those years ago in the Ingy pub when I decided to seriously research and write about BC hotel and pub history that my only regret is that I didn’t come up with the idea when I was much younger. But there is no time like the present.

    Glen A. Mofford, author of Aqua Vitae and Along the E&N, is a historian and writer with a passion for sharing the social history of British Columbia. He graduated from Simon Fraser University, and has been writing about BC’s historic hotels for 20 years.

    Facebook History Groups:

    ■ Pacific Northwest History (pre-colonial, pre-1850s) (1,200)
    ■ Maillardvilleites (1,200)
    ■ Chilliwack History Perspectives (4,000)
    ■ BC Ghost Towns & Forgotten Places (8,700)
    ■ People of Nelson, BC (8,700)
    ■ Boundary Heritage (3,300)
    ■ Cariboo Historical and Legends (8,300)
    ■ History of Hope and the Fraser Canyon (2,200)
    ■ British Columbia Nautical History (6,300)
    ■ British Columbia’s Abandoned History (14,300)
    ■ Our Chilliwack Heritage (1,100)
    ■ Historic Hotels and Pubs of BC (9,000)
    ■ North Shore Picture and Memory Group (2,600)
    ■ Kamloops History (12,100)
    ■ Lost Kootenays (45,000)

    The BC Historical Federation has a Facebook group with 1,300 followers.

  • 20 Jan 2021 12:29 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Kinsol Trestle with logging train, date unknown. Ralph Morris fonds CVMA 2006.8.2.2

    By Kathryn Gagnon, Curator/Manager, Cowichan Valley Museum & Archives

    Completed in 1920, the Kinsol Trestle is the largest wooden railway bridge in the Commonwealth, offering a spectacular crossing of the Koksilah River. The trestle is notable for both its size and its unusual seven-degree curve.

    Also known as the Koksilah River Bridge, the trestle reminds us of the once powerful forest industry and the ambition and ingenuity required to overcome substantial geographical challenges in the construction of railways.

    The last train crossed the Kinsol Trestle in 1979, and by 2006 the deteriorating bridge was threatened with demolition. The regional government planned to replace it with a simpler, lower-cost structure in order to complete the Cowichan Valley section of the Trans Canada Trail.

    After initiating an independent analysis of the trestle, Gordon Macdonald of Macdonald & Lawrence Timber Framing presented an alternative to demolition, demonstrating why and how the structure should be saved. Strong public support for the project fuelled the decision to rehabilitate the historical trestle.

    At a sunrise ceremony at the newly restored Kinsol Trestle on July 28, 2011, CN Rail’s senior engineer Ralph Morris, was remembered for his expertise and 30 years of engineering records that contributed to the preservation of the Kinsol Trestle, his favourite of the more than 4,000 wooden trestle bridges in the Western and Mountain Division for which he was responsible. In 2020, the Kinsol Trestle is celebrated as part of Canada’s built heritage.

    The Virtual Museum of Canada exhibit Abandoned, Then Embraced: The Kinsol Trestle was created by the Cowichan Valley Museum & Archives and the Shawnigan Lake Museum in 2011.

    Ralph Morris at the Kinsol Trestle, 2006. CVMA

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British Columbia Historical Federation
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The Secretariat of the BCHF is located on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish speaking Peoples. 

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