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British Columbia History

British Columbia History 54.2 Summer 2021

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)
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4 Issues

in this issue

1 min

We are proud that the students in our fall partnership with UBC have been awarded a Recognition prize in the Education and Awareness category from Heritage BC. This cohort of students was remarkable in their enthusiasm, their willing rise to the challenges of the pandemic, and the quality and thoroughness of their work. The project—called Heritage Partnerships in Community Engaged Learning—paired 11 Third Year UBC students with heritage organizations and/ or historical research projects to assist community partners during the pandemic, which has greatly impacted the ability of many organizations to conduct their work. We have called them the “Pandemic Cohort” of UBC Sociology 383 Fall 2020—and they worked with the BCHF, SASI at UFV, and Heritage Vancouver. In placing her students, Professor Renisa Mawani noted that, “we hoped that that project…

2 min
bobbing on the surface of richly layered history

In 2020 I could not have imagined that anything good might come from the Covid-19 emergency. The lockdown and the restrictions on international travel have redirected the interest of British Columbians: with time on our hands, many of us are investigating our local and provincial heritage as never before. The need for online access to heritage has been highlighted by the pandemic, and this digital need has never been greater. It comes at a time when traditional access to museums and archives has been severely curtailed. Those museums that had already taken initial steps to digitize parts of their collections are benefitting from newfound online interest from all ages of people. Nautical heritage occupies a big segment of our collective provincial history, but interest in it has flagged in recent years. Restrictions…

9 min
upriver captain, downriver family man

Reverence rings out in the voices of Captain Owen Forrester Browne’s family when they describe his place in their childhoods in Brownsville, a part of Surrey, British Columbia (named for Ebenezer Brown, a New Westminster merchant). Between his birth in New Westminster in 18691 and his death there in 1948,2 Browne anchored his family in this small Surrey village while pursuing a successful career unlike any others in his family. Captain Browne came from a proud, independent family. His part-Black or part-Tahitian-American father, Owen Wormley Browne,had worked as a barber in the 1860s gold rush in Shasta, California,3 then in New Westminster and Yale. Owen’s mother, Teresa Aponi Berra-Berra Browne,4 preserved the family’s Polynesian heritage in dance and ohana (a Hawaiian word that roughly translates as “family”). Owen Forrester’s only sister,…

9 min
navigating our heritage

“Nautical heritage” usually conjures up images of tugboats, ocean liners, and sailing ships on salt water, a stereotype regularly reinforced by maritime museums. However, the scope of nautical heritage encompasses other significant historical themes, including links to agriculture, mining, industry, fishing, settlement, communication, recreation, research, and international relations. In time, our nautical heritage is an unbroken flow of events from millennia past to the present. Our view of this heritage is slowly but positively evolving with broadened awareness guided by nautical history enthusiasts. Origins The British Columbia Historical Federation’s predecessor, the British Columbia Historical Society, struck a Marine Committee led by Judge Frederic William Howay that focused on preservation and research, and their work in lobbying for the establishment of a provincial maritime museum eventually led to the creation of the Maritime…

1 min

This useful online tool for researchers in British Columbia is unlike any digital resource found elsewhere. Two big searchable online databases provide free instant access to detailed information on 70,000 West Coast vessels and 58,000 mariners and related personalities. Supported by almost 15,000 images and 1,500 articles, this is a rich resource accessed more than four million times annually by users worldwide. What started 45 years ago as a casual recording of my ship research has gradually built up into a significant encyclopedic nautical heritage reference for casual and serious researchers and inquirers focusing on the nautical history of British Columbia, western and northern Canada, and Canada’s naval forces. The related subject matter is diverse and multifaceted. This is the result of the work of a small core of volunteers who have…

11 min
pillars of the bc parks branch

In November of 1952, C.D. Orchard, then British Columbia’s Deputy Minister of Forests, addressed the Canadian Institute of Forestry in Montreal.1 It was not unusual for a Deputy Minister to do so, but the topic of his address certainly was, for it signalled a significant new role for the BC Forest Service. Beyond ensuring a timber supply for the forest industry, the Forest Service would now have a role in the field of outdoor recreation. Orchard’s speech put in motion a system that has created one of the best park systems in the world.2 Following the creation of Strathcona, BC’s first park, in 1911, there was no formal plan for provincial parks. Parks were established in a random manner, generally from proposals put forward by various advocacy groups such as the Alpine Club…