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  • 6 May 2024 11:56 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The BC Historical Federation conference was a one-day event that featured the Federation’s Annual General Meeting, a keynote presentation, and a guided bus tour of S'ólh Téméxw (Stó:lō homelands).

    The keynote presentation centered on masking and unmasking Stó:lō placenames, delivered by Dr. Keith Carlson, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous and Community-Engaged History at the University of the Fraser Valley and Director of the Peace and Reconciliation Centre, and Dr. Si:yémiya Albert “Sonny” McHalsie, Cultural Advisor / Sxweyxwiyam (Historian) at the Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Centre, andinstructor at the University of the Fraser Valley.

    The presentation explained how place-naming was an integral component of the settler colonial process, and suggested ways in how we can take action to move towards decolonizing, re-Indigenizing, and re-naming places that are known to have original Indigenous names.

    Si:yémiya provided examples of place names that guided Indigenous communities while travelling that reflected their knowledge of sites with bountiful food resources; that commemorated historical events and occurrences; and that documented stories of origin and transformation.

    Carlson spoke to the process by which colonialists asserted a degree of control by naming spaces and associating new memories that reflected settler heritages. He suggests empowering Indigenous communities to create policies and processes that lead to re-naming on Indigenous terms. 

    The messages presented in the keynote presentation were subsequently seeded deeper into the minds of conference participants who joined a three-hour cultural bus tour of Stó:lō homelands where they saw and learned of original Indigenous place names and sxwōxwiyám (ancient stories) and sqwélqwel (personal and family histories) that give shape to Stó:lō culture, history and people. 

    Dr. Si:yémiya Albert “Sonny” McHalsie speaks to participants of the 2024 BCHF conference near Yale. 

  • 6 May 2024 11:12 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The British Columbia Historical Federation (BCHF) has awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Historical Writing to Jennifer Bonnell, author of Stewards of Splendour: A History of Wildlife and People in British Columbia published by the Royal British Columbia Museum in 2023. The award was presented on May 4 at the BCHF’s award gala dinner in Chilliwack, on the unceded traditional territory of the Stó:lō people.  

    The book explores the history of wildlife conservation in British Columbia, from pre-contact Indigenous stewardship to the present. It examines the ways that scientists, Indigenous leaders, hunter-conservationists and naturalists contributed to and contested wildlife management practices in the province. 

    Historian and academic Jennifer Bonnell of Toronto was on hand to receive the award that includes a $2,500 prize -- the largest for historical writing in BC. Second prize of $1,500 went to Katherine Palmer Gordon for This Place is Who We Are (Harbour Publishing) and third prize of $500 to Jonathan Swainger for The Notorious Georges (UBC Press).

    Three books received honourable mentions: Wayne McCrory, The Wild Horses of the Chilcotin (Harbour Publishing), Barry Gough's The Curious Passage of Richard Blanshard (Harbour Publishing) and Sam George with Jill Yonit Goldberg for The Fire Still Burns (UBC Press, Purich Books). 

    The Community History prize was awarded to Ellen Schwartz for Galena Bay Odyssey (Heritage House).

    Jennifer Bonnell, winner of the 2023 BCHF Historical Writing Award. 

  • 30 Apr 2024 8:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The BC Historical Federation is getting ready to welcome members to Chilliwack for its Annual General Meeting, gathering and awards gala on May 4. 

    Attendees can now download the 2024 Annual Report and AGM package

    Please refer to our conference webpage to for venue address and other information. 


    9-10am (doors open at 8:30am)
    Gathering Place, University of the Fraser Valley Chilliwack Campus. 45190 Caen Avenue, Chilliwack, V2R 0N3.

    Keynote Presentation
    Gathering Place, University of the Fraser Valley Chilliwack Campus. 45190 Caen Avenue, Chilliwack, V2R 0N3.

    Guided Bus Tour
    12:30 pm-4:30 pm (please come early)
    Leaves from the Stó:lō Resource and Research Management Centre. Building #10 – 7201 Vedder Road, Chilliwack, BC, Canada, V2R 4G5.

    Awards Dinner
    7-9pm (doors open at 6:30pm)
    Coast Hotel, Chilliwack. 45920 First Ave, Chilliwack, BC V2P 7K1.
    Cash bar and silent auction. 

  • 13 Apr 2024 10:59 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The British Columbia Historical Federation is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2023 Historical Writing Awards. The awards will be announced during the awards gala taking place this year in Chilliwack on May 4 at 7pm.  

    In alphabetical order by author, the list is as follows:  

    • Jennifer Bonnell, Stewards of Splendour: A History of Wildlife and People in British Columbia. Royal British Columbia Museum.    

    • Sam George, with Jill Yonit Goldberg, Liam Belson, Dylan MacPhee, and Tanis Wilson, The Fire Still Burns. UBC Press, Purich Books.    

    • Barry Gough, The Curious Passage of Richard Blanshard. Harbour Publishing.    

    • Wayne McCrory, The Wild Horses of the Chilcotin. Harbour Publishing.  

    • Katherine Palmer Gordon, This Place is Who We Are. Harbour Publishing. 

    • Ellen Schwartz, Galena Bay Odyssey. Heritage House.   

    • Jonathan Swainger, The Notorious Georges. UBC Press.    

    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.   

    The 2023 competition received 25 publications, all of which add to the compendium of historical writing in British Columbia. 

  • 10 Apr 2024 4:46 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Nelson opera house stood from 1898 until it burned in a spectacular fire in 1935. (Greg Nesteroff collection)

    Nelson Museum archives assistant Tressa Ford looks at the history of theatre in that city. She writes: "In spite of instabilities of venue, funding and societal change, there has always been a stubborn dedication to theatre in Nelson."

    Read more at the Nelson Star.

  • 9 Apr 2024 5:14 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A lovely afternoon of storytelling at the Chinatown Storytelling Centre with Simon Chang who shared his inspiring journey from Vancouver's Chinatown to becoming one of Canada's most commercially successful designers. ⁠

  • 9 Apr 2024 5:11 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In this presentation to the Vancouver Historical Society, historians Megan Davies and Tamara Myers tell the tale of Othoa Scott, a Hornby Island girl crippled by a back injury a century ago, using her life story to describe the development of a hospital for injured children in Vancouver, and the solariums in BC where they lived as they were treated and rehabilitated.

  • 5 Apr 2024 10:23 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A group called the Museum Liberation Force is pushing for the creation of a museum dedicated to the South Asian community in BC. They say the project has progressed too slowly and its consultation process hasn't been effective.

    Read more from the CBC.

  • 5 Apr 2024 10:15 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Friends of the BC Archives say they welcome the naming of the Royal BC Museum's Provincial Archives, Research and Collections Campus (PARC), scheduled to open in 2026.

    "The decision by the Royal BC Museum and BC Archives to emphasize the Provincial Archives in the name underscores the importance of the archival collections housed in this new, state-of-the-art facility," they said in a prepared statement.

    "Archives are essential sources of information and evidence that help societies understand the past and inform the future. Access to archival materials is essential for researchers, educators, writers, communities, and the winder public."

    President Lara Wilson said they are happy to see the naming announcement and look forward to sharing information with their members and the public as the development of the facility proceeds.

    "The Friends of BC Archives encourages the public's involvement in the government's engagement sessions about the new facility and associated services, and we encourage everyone to share their thoughts with BC Archives," she said.

    Since the announcement of the new storage and research facility in 2020, Friends of the BC Archives have advocated for increased information sharing and engagement about the project with their members, many of whom are researchers accessing BC Archives' collections. The Friends are actively participating in the BC Archives information and engagement sessions about the new facility and future services.

    "As a strong supporter of the work of the BC Archives, the Friends will continue to advocate for the secure preservation of equitable access to and appropriate resourcing for the care of our province's documentary heritage," they wrote.

  • 18 Mar 2024 3:55 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    An excerpt from the Spring 2024 issue of British Columbia History, which is devoted to Doukhobor history.

    By Jonathan J. Kalmakoff

    Peter Vasil’evich “Lordly” Verigin

    Born in 1859 in Russia, Peter Vasil’evich Verigin assumed leadership of Doukhobors in the Caucasus in 1886. Exiled to North Russia and Siberia for 16 years, he rejoined his followers in Canada in 1902. After a substantial loss of homestead lands in Saskatchewan in 1907, he led 5,000 of his followers to the West Kootenay and Boundary regions of British Columbia from 19081913, where they established his utopian vision of the Doukhobor community as the “Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood” (CCUB) on purchased lands. He died in a mysterious train explosion near Farron, BC, in 1924.

    Formal portrait of Peter Verigin, undated. (BC Archives, Item No. D-06462)

    British Columbia Wilderness

    Between 1908 and 1913, the CCUB purchased 10,600 acres of heavily forested land in the Kootenay region, with many trees three to five feet in diameter and over 100 feet high. Another 4,700 acres of land purchased in the Boundary region was mostly open, virgin ranchland with light under- brush and timber stands, although it also contained several hundred acres of the roughest and wildest unbroken land. Within five years, they transformed this wilderness land into a veritable garden.

    Doukhobor arrival in the Kootenays, 1908. (BC Archives, Item No. A-02072)

     Communal Land Clearing

    Upon arriving in British Columbia, the Doukhobors set about developing the land for fruit-growing. Hundreds of Doukhobor workmen laboured communally toward this effort. The underbrush was cleared manually using grub hoes, axes, saws, and shovels. Trees were cut by two men using cross-cut saws and then hauled to local Doukhobor sawmills to be milled into lumber for housing construction. Stumps and stones were pulled out with horses and a rotary drum and ratchet puller or blasted with dynamite.

    Clearing land, Doukhobor settlement at Glade, 1912. (BC Archives, Item No. GR-0793.5, Accession No. 197904-015)

    Communal Homes

    As the land was progressively developed, the Doukhobors divided it into 100-acre plots and built houses (“doms”) on each plot from lumber milled on site. Architecturally unique and wholly communal in concept, each dom followed a uniform model and was 32 by 40 feet, two storeys high with an attic, and a half-basement for storage. The wooden buildings were never painted, although many were faced with brick. Each had nine bedrooms and housed between 35 and 50 persons. Usually two doms were built side by side, 60 feet apart, and joined by one-storey buildings in a U-shape that housed additional bedrooms. The image shows one such two-dom village at Brilliant in 1942.

    Communal home and orchard at Brilliant, at the confluence of the Kootenay and Columbia rivers. Note the potato patch planted between the apple trees, 1930s. (Trail Historical Society Photo 13138)

    Communal Orchards

    The majority of arable land cleared by the Doukhobors was planted into fruit trees—apples, pears, plums, cherries, peaches, and others. By 1912, the Doukhobor Community was the largest fruit-grower in the Kootenay and Boundary, with 80,000 trees planted on 1,100 acres. By 1921, their orchards had doubled, and by 1931, they had 12,757 acres of fruit trees. All members of the Community were engaged in the growing effort. The image shows Doukhobor women and children picking apples in Ootischenia in 1930. Most of the fruit picked was shipped fresh to Prairie markets, while the rest was processed in the Community jam factory at Brilliant.

    Doukhobor families working at Ootischenia. (Slocan Valley Historical Society Photograph Collection, Item No. 2013_01_3014)

    Vegetable Growing

    In addition to orchard growing, the Doukhobors communally cultivated vast tracts of vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, etc.), small fruit (strawerries, raspberries) and, to a lesser extent, grains (flax, oats, and wheat). By 1931, the Community had 9,775 acres dedicated to produce. Most of the produce was grown for domestic consumption within the Community, with the surplus sold fresh in local markets or else processed and canned for commercial sale. 

    Women weeding garden on community lands, Ootischenia. (BC Archives, Item No. C-01926)

    Jam Factory

    Beginning in 1911, the Doukhobor Community commenced a large-scale jam-making and canning enterprise as the Kootenay-Columbia Preserving Works, utilizing the fruits and berries the Community grew as well as the fruit crops of other growers to produce the famous “K.C. Brand” of jams enjoyed throughout North America. Initially, a 6-ton-per-day factory was operated in Nelson for four years, which was replaced by a new, larger 12-ton-per-day plant built at Brilliant in 1914. The Brilliant plant was continually expanded, with a plant for the manufacture of tin cans (1915), a fruit evaporating plant (1915), a tomato cannery (1923), and a doubling of capacity to become a 24-ton-per-day facility (1928). The Community built a second 12-ton-per-day plant in Grand Forks in 1935; however, it was destroyed by arson the same year.

    Community fruit jam factory, Brilliant. (BC Archives, Item No. C-01769)

    Doukhobor Brick-Making

    Besides fruit-growing, the Doukhobor Community established brick-making works at Grand Forks (1909) and near Winlaw (1913) that produced high-quality bricks. The Doukhobors used the brick to build various industrial, commercial, and school buildings of their own, as well as to face their communal homes. The brick also found a ready market for commercial sale in the surrounding centres of Nelson, Castlegar, Trail, and Grand Forks.

    Slocan Doukhobor brick factory, 1914. (BC Archives, Item No. E-00716)

    Doukhobor Sawmilling

    Doukhobors entered the logging and sawmilling industry in British Columbia between 1908 and 1912 during their large-scale land clearing for fruit-growing. Small mills were used, with most of the lumber used in the construction of their communal homes and buildings. By 19161924, the Community had expanded into large-scale commercial lumbering, with large mills established at Ootischenia, Krestova, Pass Creek, Grand Forks, Koch Siding, Hall Siding, Porto Rico, and Porcupine Creek, each of which was producing between one million and three million board-feet of lumber annually.

    Doukhobor men at a community sawmill near Nelson, circa 1935 (BC Archives, Item No. E-00718)

    Prayer Meetings

    A mainstay of the Doukhobor faith is the moleniye or “prayer meeting,” a religious assembly for communal prayer, meditation, the recitation of psalms, and the singing of hymns. These were (and are) held weekly on Sundays, as well as during weddings, funerals, memorials for the dead, festivals, and other communal gatherings. Typically these were held in large community halls and other buildings; however, when the weather permitted, they were held in the open air.

    Peter V. Verigin at open air mass moleniye at Ootischenia, circa 1922. (Simon Fraser University, Item No. MSC121-DP-019

    Peter Petrovich “Chistyakov” Verigin

    Born in Russia in 1881, Peter Petrovich “Chistyakov” Verigin arrived in Canada in 1927 to assume leadership of the Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood following his father’s death. Chistyakov reorganized the organization, decentralizing it and making it less rigidly communal. He made significant efforts toward freeing the Community from its burdensome debt, embracing public education among its members, and uniting the various factions of Doukhobors in Canada. Following the bankruptcy and foreclosure of the Community in 19361938, Chistyakov established a successor organization in British Columbia, the Union of Spiritual Communities of Christ, in 1939, just prior to his death.

    Peter Petrovich “Chistyakov“ Verigin, circa 1930. (Simon Fraser University Doukhobor Collection, Item No. 001-023-001-001)

    Doukhobor Singing

    Acapella singing has been a mainstay of Doukhobor culture for generations and is uniquely complex in its high degree of harmonic sophistication. Performed without musically trained performers, written arrangements, or musical instruments, the acapella singing expresses various feelings—at times joyful and at times mournful, which is reflective of the Doukhobor historical experience and beliefs as expressed in song. The image is of a touring British Columbia Doukhobor choir performing in 1952.

    BC Doukhobor choir on tour in Saskatoon. (BC Archives, Item No. C-01636)

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