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British Columbia History

British Columbia History 53.4 Winter 2020

British Columbia History chronicles British Columbia’s unique story through the words and images of community writers, archivists, museum professionals, academic historians and more. Fresh, engaging, personal and relevant, every issue is packed with articles, photographs, maps, illustrations, book reviews and insights into local archives and historic sites.

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British Columbia Historical Federation
$7.88(Incl. tax)
$26.25(Incl. tax)
4 Issues

in this issue

2 min
the kinsol trestle celebrates 100 years

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…

1 min
did you know that written chinese has two character sets?

Standard Chinese, also known as Modern Standard Mandarin, uses a simplified character set that came into use in 1949. It is used today in Mainland China and in Singapore. The characters Elwin has used in his article are from the Traditional Chinese character set, used today in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau. He notes that his family speaks Enping (Yin Ping), a dialect of standard Cantonese. Cantonese is part of the Yue group of Chinese languages spoken in southeast China. The majority of early Chinese immigrants to North, Central and South America and British Commonwealth countries during the mid-19th century arrived from several counties within Guangdong Province (Kwangtung). Enping (Yin Ping), Kaiping (Hoy Ping), Panyu (Poon Yue), Shunde (Shun Duck), Taishan (Toishan), Xinhui (Sun Wui), and Zhong Shan (Chung Shan) are all within the…

2 min
we value these histories

The importance of community and local history is not lost on someone who rarely sees her history reflected in Canadian public discourse or correctly reflected in the Canadian record. My thoughts turn to the early 1900s when my first brethren came to BC’s shores from an India that was under colonial rule and where, in their own country, they were treated as second-class citizens. They came seeking a better economic life but quickly faced discrimination that cut to the very core of their identity. Today, as we are forced come to terms with our own culpability as settlers on this land through the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, I realize that much work needs to be done by all of us to create a better Canadian historic record and…

5 min
bulkley valley museum via collections online

Photographs have a wonderful power to uncover long-buried memories. While scanning the Bulkley Valley Museum’s Collections Online portal I stumbled across a photo of the Smithers CNR train station that triggered an instant flashback. It’s where I stepped off the train in 1974 for my first broadcasting job as a frizzy-haired 19-year-old from Ontario toting one blue trunk and a guitar. I’d watched the Canadian landscape unfold from my seat thanks to a ticket purchased by my grandparents. Although my time in Smithers was brief —just six months—the town and surrounding valley have never left me. Indeed, the Bulkley Valley Museum’s digital collection allows me to return and learn more about this fascinating region near the geographic heart of our province. BVM Curator Kira Westby reports that visits to Collections Online…

3 min
prince rupert city and regional archives

With only a card table for a desk, a four-drawer wooden filing cabinet, and an interest in preserving the historical records of the region, Gladys Blyth, Phylis Bowman, and Barbara Sheppard established the Prince Rupert City & Regional Archives in September 1980. Bowman, a local historian, had collected boxes of photographs and documents. In 1975 she made an attempt to start an archives, but her request for funding from Prince Rupert’s city council was unsuccessful. Five years later, Blyth was managing the North Coast Marine Museum and hired Bowman and Sheppard on a part-time basis. “I had a Museum and Archives Assistance grant application just sitting on my desk,” recalled Blyth. Their application was successful. With the support of local organizations and the North Coast Regional District, Sheppard continued to run…

3 min
they persevered and built a community

Originally named Mayo Siding, this mill town just west of Duncan was founded by Mayo Singh in 1917. It flourished for two decades, then struggled after the mill closed in the 1940s. People gather each summer to remember the meaning of this place, and in 2017 people came from all over the world to celebrate the centenary of the Paldi Sikh Temple, once the heart of the community. Today only this temple remains as evidence of the town’s built heritage, and the life stories of the many thousands of people who called this place home are just beginning to be gathered. Satwinder Bains reflects on the importance of Paldi history and the urgency she feels to safeguard its stories. Paldi is one of those small towns in BC where even the name…