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Archive for the ‘Archives’ Category

Building a Mini-Exhibit: A Summer Student Perspective by Alec Postlethwaite

Posted on: August 8th, 2018 by Anna Irwin

During my time with the Chilliwack Museum and Archives I was tasked with creating a miniature exhibit for the archive’s reading room, a project which proved to be one of the most challenging projects I have taken on as a summer student.

Topic choice was the first challenge I needed to overcome. With Chilliwack’s history offering a diverse range of topics, it was difficult finding one that was both intriguing and able to be displayed in one display case.

Chilliwack Museum and Archives, 1997.021.002

Narrowing down topic choice was a long process.While I found lots of engaging stories, events, and timelines, I was always faced with the question of “Will other people find this interesting?”. Luckily, a few seemed like they would.

One of these topics was the logging of roads in the 1890s, which would become the roads Chilliwack still uses today. After a few afternoons of research, however, I realised that while there was enough information to know logging had happened, the amount of information I was able to find was not enough to mount a mini-exhibit.

I chose to find a new topic. After a few more hours researching and a following a few new ideas, I found the Pacific Coast Militia Rangers (PCMR). Digging through the archives, I managed to find plenty of useful information in a few short hours, including news articles, archival material, and artifacts. It appeared the only work left was to make some labels and put it all in a case.

Chilliwack and Archives, PP503985

At this point, I was faced again with the small size of the display case. While the case is large, it could not accommodate all of the material I had uncovered. After an editing process and considering space restrictions, I decided to narrow the topic to an exploration of the PCMR through a social lens. Scaling down the topic allowed for the topic to become more manageable and while allowing the amount of material to remain workable.  The result of this was an interpretation and a story local to Chilliwack.

I now had to make my interpretation accessible to a number of age groups. This meant taking my own thoughts  and trying to explain for demographics of all ages, which was the most difficult part of the project. This was because I needed to both keep my original message and make it accessible to younger age groups.

Overall, I am grateful that I had the chance to make this exhibit. The challenges I was faced with have better prepared me for the goals I hope to accomplish in my professional life and I will be pleased to carry them with me.

The exhibit is scheduled to open August 17, 2018. 

Facial Recognition – Archives Style

Posted on: July 25th, 2018 by Tristan Evans

Unidentified group with big smiles [2016.032.002.0786]

Big tech companies and government agencies have the advantage of using facial recognition software to help them identify individuals from digital images.  While I love a good conspiracy theory, I’ll break the myth and let you know that as a small community archives, we do not have such technology in our possession.  However, we here at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives have a secret tool that Google, Facebook, and large agencies do not have.  We have a great set of dedicated volunteers and a community that cares about preserving Chilliwack’s history.

 

Unknown individual doing something important [2016.032.002.0784]

 

Today I am going to tap into the community (you) and ask for help.  Throughout this blog you’ll notice photographs from a large collection.  The donor, I, and our volunteers have all tried to identify these remaining photographs from this large collection.  Unfortunately we have not had any luck.  This is when I ask you to kindly put on your archives hat and see if you recognize any of the individuals in these photos and/or maybe the event itself.

 

 

 

 

 

Looks like a charismatic speaker [2016.032.002.0787]

Any information you have on these photographs is appreciated.  Feel free to contact me directly if you recognize these photographs and I will gladly update our database.   You can find my contact information at the bottom of the blog post.  After you’ve looked at all the photographs of course.

 

 

 

 

 

Kids being patient [2016.032.002.0788]

Just three more photographs to go.  How about this fantastic family on the right with “smiling” kids?

 

 

 

 

 

 

More smiles [2016.032.002.0790]

Almost done.  How come this family is so lucky?  They appear in a few of these photographs!

 

 

 

 

 

Where is this store? I don’t know, do you? [2016.032.002.0791]

You made it to the final image… for now.  Recognize where this store is?

 

Thank you for looking.

 

Tristan Evans

[email protected]

604-792-5210 ext. 104

Volunteer Spotlight – Wayne Bowes

Posted on: June 20th, 2018 by Tristan Evans

The Chilliwack Museum is so much more than one individual.  To fulfill our mandate of preserving Chilliwack’s rich history, we rely on the work of so many individuals who generously share their time.  This includes (but is not all inclusive) members of the Chilliwack historical society, the Board of Trustees, 32 volunteers, 5 permanent staff members, 2 summer students, and 3 part-time staff members.  In the Archives building specifically, there is one archivist, one curator, one archives assistant, one summer student, and currently 4 volunteers.  As the name implies, volunteers charitably give their free time here doing a lot of the behind-the-scenes work that allows us to preserve and make available our archival records and cultural objects.

Volunteer Wayne Bowes and his wife Coleen Bowes

 

Each volunteer brings a unique skill set to the Archives that we try and pair up with tasks that are needed.  To this day I regularly use the research done by past volunteers such as Sharon Lawrence or Evelyn Johner.  Today I am going to use this opportunity to highlight one volunteer in particular:

 

Wayne Bowes volunteers in the Archives building mostly working on the curatorial side describing cultural objects.  Wayne is a retired architect, designer, and worked for many years in the antiques business.  With his knowledge, Wayne is the perfect individual to help us describe cultural objects.  His antique skills are particularly useful.  He knows far more about the material and use of an object than us generalist (the curator and myself) could ever hope to know.  He is here every Monday from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM imputing descriptive information into our database.  The work is often tedious and underappreciated.  Very few individuals understand all the behind-the-scene descriptions that Wayne is a part of.  During his last shift I asked Wayne a few questions about his work and why he is so committed to helping our mission.

 

Just one of the projects Wayne is currently describing

Why did you decide to volunteer for the Chilliwack Museum and Archives?

 

I wanted to give back to Chilliwack.  I have an interest in history and older items and wanted to use my knowledge in a meaningful way to give back to the community.

 

What type of work do you perform when you are at the Archives? 

 

I work mostly on the curatorial side.  I take photographs of objects and record the information into the database.  I look up the value of items and describe the items.  I use my past experience from working in an antiques shop to describe the artifacts and objects.

 

Do you have a favourite memory at the Museum and Archives?

 

I haven’t been working here for very long yet; but, I have really enjoyed some of the socials and luncheons for the volunteers.

 

Is there anything else you would like to mention regarding your work at the Archives? 

 

Staff are friendly, nice, and informative.  (I promise, I didn’t force him to say the last response)

 

Wayne Bowes has been volunteering since November, 2017.  He lives in Chilliwack proper with his wife Coleen Bowes.  They are long time residents of the community in Chilliwack and Cultus Lake.  From a personal perspective I can say without hesitation that it is an absolute pleasure working with Wayne.

 

Borrowing a phrase from one of my favourite podcasts, The Secret Life of Canada, shout out to Wayne Bowes!

What’s Behind the Locked Doors?

Posted on: May 16th, 2018 by Tristan Evans

Today I would like to use this opportunity to promote a new event here at the Archives.  Starting this year we have been having free behind-the-scenes tours of the Chilliwack Archives.  The free tours are open to everyone and take place on the last Friday of the month.  Hint, May 25th for this month.  Each tour runs between 45 minutes to an hour.

 

Archivist Tristan Evans is pleased with the new sandwich board sign. Photo credit: Adrienne Rempel [February 6, 2018]

Are you curious what we are hiding behind those secret archive doors?  Ever wondered where I disappear to when you request to view a fonds or photograph?  Are you a long-time history nerd with serious questions and you want to know more about our local collections?  Come to the tour.  Are you brand new to the history field and just looking to see what all the hype is about at the Archives?  Come to the tour.  The tour is open to everyone, no previous research experience required.  Seriously, it is a really great opportunity.

 

Below is all the information you need:

 

Price: FREE!!!

Where: Evergreen Hall, Chilliwack Archives, 9291 Corbould Street, Chilliwack, BC V2P 4A6

When: Last Friday of every month at 3:00 PM

Reservation: Not required!  All you need to do is stop by the Archives at 3:00 PM

 

“I don’t always go on free tours, but when I do, it’s to visit the Chilliwack Archives”

-World’s Most Interesting Man

 

Archive Door protecting the secrets of the archive stacks. Photo credit: Tristan Evans [May 16, 2018]

I know that I’m not alone when I say I love visiting archives.  Sure museums are fun, but how often do you get to see behind the scenes?  You will be rewarded with the opportunity to explore how we catalogue and preserve archival records and cultural objects.  At most institutions you are lucky to peak behind an archive door and glimpse a view at the secrets of the archival world.  These glimpses into the mysterious world of an archivist are usually reserved for special occasions such as “archives week” or “culture week.”  Not here at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives.  We are very fortunate here in Chilliwack to have a large and diverse collection of archival records, artifacts, and cultural objects for a community of our size.  My job is to preserve these archival records; but also, to make them available to the community.  So please, stop by on the last Friday of every month, 3:00 PM, no RSVP!

 

Are you sold yet?  If not, here are a couple comments I’ve heard after our first three tours:

Newspapers… Boxes and boxes of newspapers. Photo credit: Tristan Evans [May 16, 2018]

“Good Tour”

“Great Tour”

“I really enjoyed that, thank you”

“Oh wow!  That was the greatest tour I have ever had in my entire life.  It totally changed my life.  Nothing can ever top this”

 

Okay… Maybe I slightly misquoted that last one and perhaps exaggerated a little bit.  In all seriousness though, these tours are great.  I really hope to keep them going and they are something that very few institutions offer.  Generally speaking, the public is forbidden to go behind-the-scenes of an archive.  These tours tear down those restrictions.  They make my job less of a mystery to you, the public, and they are a perfect opportunity for you to ask questions you may have about our collections or general Chilliwack community history.  I really hope to see you on May 25th or any other last Friday of the month.

Coming Home: F. W. Lee Painting Returns to Chilliwack

Posted on: April 11th, 2018 by Tristan Evans

In my last blog post, Frederick Walter Lee: the life of a Painter, Teacher, Photographer, Poet, Musician and Activist, I wrote about the unique life of one of Chilliwack’s most well-rounded artist.  Admittedly, my inspiration for this blog post came from a phone call I received earlier in 2018 from Beth McLean, an employee of the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan.

 

“Chilliwack Sunset, 1937” Watercolour painting by F. W. Lee [2018.008]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To my surprise and delight, Beth had an original F. W. Lee watercolour painting and she wanted to donate the image to our Archives.  After a phone call, some brief email correspondence, and a completed deed-of-gift form, Beth kindly mailed us the watercolour image which we added to the Frederick Walter Lee fonds.

 

I asked Beth if she would be comfortable sharing her story for a future “Coming Home” blog piece on the painting that she donated.  Beth was happy to share how she came across the painting, found our institution, and decided to donate the painting to us.  Beth kindly shared the following story with us:

 

“I can tell you that it was a few summers ago when I stopped at a house where there was a garage sale on the driveway.  The painting’s quality and style caught my eye from several yards away as I was walking from the car.  I believe they were asking $2 and I could hardly believe my luck.  I definitely thought this was my Antiques Roadshow moment. 

 

When I got home, I searched for the artist online and came across the Chilliwack Archives collection description of one of Mr. Lee’s works.  Reading about his time in Saskatchewan was interesting as it possibly explained why the painting was at a garage sale in Regina, even though it was painted later in his life.  Perhaps he had made a friend here and the painting was a gift?

 

F. W. Lee painting a landscape mural, with two women and a man looking on. [P5352]

After a discussion with my Provincial Archivist, I contacted you [Chilliwack Museum and Archives] in hopes that your Archives would like the painting to come home.”

 

Nearly every archival record, artifact, and cultural object at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives is here because of donations from the community.  Often these donations come from local families, individuals, and organizations.  Increasingly in the digital age more donations significant to Chilliwack history are coming home from across the country or even as far away as England and Texas.

 

In order to preserve and tell Chilliwack’s history, we rely on the generosity of donors willing to part with their precious archival material.  I would like to personally thank all donors who have taken their time to stop by the Archives and donate material.

Frederick Walter Lee: the life of a Painter, Teacher, Photographer, Poet, Musician, and Activist

Posted on: February 21st, 2018 by Tristan Evans

Watercolour of Mt. Cheam by F. W. Lee. [P5821]

Watercolour of Lhilheqey (Mt. Cheam) by F. W. Lee. [P5821]

Chilliwack’s rich history is blessed with artists of varying trades.  If you put together all the artists and their works at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives, any nominations list for well-rounded artist would be incomplete without mentioning Frederick Walter Lee.  A painter, teacher, photographer, poet, musician, and activist, F. W. Lee scraped together a living in Chilliwack from his arrival in 1904 until his death in 1948.

 

Born in England in 1863, Lee ran away from home at the age of 19 to attend the South Kensington Art School.  Lee received early notoriety and was invited by Queen Victoria to make sketches of the Buckingham palace in 1894 and 1895.  In 1899, Lee immigrated to Canada and exhibited at the Royal Canadian Academy.  Lee initially settled in Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan until a fire destroyed nearly all of his possessions.  Undeterred, Lee set out on a year long trek armed only with his camera, sketchbook, and painting materials across Canada and the United States camping wherever there was water and grass for his horses.  A more detailed account of his travels can be found in his writings at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives (CMA, AM 0021, File 3).

 

Photograph of Frederick Walter Lee sitting on a fence post. [P5344]

Photograph of Frederick Walter Lee sitting on a fence post. [P5344]

F. W. Lee eventually settled in Chilliwack in 1904 where he remained with the exception of a brief temporary move to Vancouver in 1919. Lee attempted to cultivate land in the area but gave up shortly and moved to a small cabin at 747 DeWolfe Avenue (now 46719 Portage Avenue) where he set up an art studio. Unhappy with the road conditions on DeWolfe, Lee moved to 106 Second Avenue (now 46122 Second Avenue) upon his return to Chilliwack from Vancouver.  Inundated by ill health and hardship, Frederick Walter Lee never achieved the high status his early career indicated.

 

In Chilliwack, Lee did everything he could to stay afloat.  In addition to his art studio, Lee organized drawing and painting classes during which a student could take a class once a week for one month at $2.50 (drawing lesson) and $3.50 (painting lesson).  Lee also worked at the Wilson Photography Studio for much of his career and sold his own photographs.  In 1907 he published a poem, The Prairie, (written in Qu’Apelle in 1902) in Chilliwack’s The Progress newspaper.  Although there is no evidence he ever made an income from his music, Lee also composed music for the guitar.

 

Watercolour painting by F. W. Lee [P5823]

Watercolour painting by F. W. Lee [P5823]

When Lee wasn’t working, his favourite pastime may have been as a citizen activist addressing issues to City Council and writing letters to the paper.  Lee addressed City Council and The Progress about unsightly fences on DeWolfe Avenue, having to endure shootings and sieges in his studio, a “preponderance of thistles” in the lot next to his property, and requested to move a streetlamp 60 feet down the road.  In my personal favourite letter to The Progress in which Lee argued with City Council about his road condition and lot size he said of a council member:

 

“under penalty of being forcibly removed and forever denied the beautific vision of his august countenance, in fact the offended Deity assured me the process would leave me a shameless withered mass burnt to ashes under aldermanicire, should I ever hint or whisper such a thing as that there is a road leading to my lot.”

 

Although many secondary sources incorrectly state that Lee died in 1941, he actually passed away in Chilliwack in 1948.  Today, Lee is best known for his natural watercolour paintings of the Fraser Valley.  Many of his artworks, writings, photographs, his memoir, and other biographical information can be viewed at the Archives under the Frederick Walter Lee collection, AM 0021.

Spice up your Decor with some Historic Photographs

Posted on: January 17th, 2018 by Tristan Evans

Crowd watching the Hart Building fire, 29 August 1987. [2016.032.002.0381]

Crowd watching the Hart Building fire, 29 August 1987. [2016.032.002.0381]

The Chilliwack Museum and Archives has an incredible array of historic photographs ranging from turn of the century glass-plate negatives to black and white prints to modern digital photographs.  We collect and preserve historic images from multiple mediums including postcards, slides, film, and canvas.  The majority of the over 500,000 images that we have acquired and preserved are available for reproduction.

Naturally, all of our photographs that do not have restrictions are available to view for free at the Archives for research purposes.  However, if you are looking to add a little something extra to your home, consider placing a photo order at the Archives.  After inspection by the archivist, for the low cost of $15 (personal and non-commercial use only) we will gladly digitize any non-restricted image and send you a high resolution digital file of the image which you may then take to a print shop of your choosing.

 

Photograph shows a group portrait of the Golden Arrow racing canoe and crew on Cultus Lake in the spring of 1968. Crew members were from the Skwah First Nation. From left to right: Jack Mussell, Bill Mussel Jr., Joe Mussel, Lester Mussell, Jack Fraser, Percy Wallace, Jim Fraser, Melvin Mussell, Roy Mussell, Dick Mussell, and Fred Mussell. [1981.066.002]

Photograph shows a group portrait of the Golden Arrow racing canoe and crew on Cultus Lake in the spring of 1968. Crew members are from the Skwah First Nation. From left to right: Jack Mussell, Bill Mussel Jr., Joe Mussel, Lester Mussell, Jack Fraser, Percy Wallace, Jim Fraser, Melvin Mussell, Roy Mussell, Dick Mussell, and Fred Mussell. [1981.066.002]

Thinking of taking that extra leap for your business?  For an additional commercial use fee of $15 per image, you can order images for your business, bed and breakfast, upcoming PowerPoint presentation, press release, book, historic article, website, calendar, or any other commercial use that you can dream of.

 

Okay, so how do I search and find these images?

 

Don’t have time to stop by the Archives?  No problem.  Currently we have 32,109 individual photographs described of which over 14,000 are digitized and keyword searchable via our online catalog.  Not having any luck with our photograph catalog?  Don’t forget to search our archival records inventory.  Descriptions of artwork, maps, and large photograph albums in which photographs are not described individually can be found in the archival inventory.  Just remember to write down the photograph number or catalog number for your order.

Chilliwack Progress Press Photograph: Infantry Pioneers attached to 3 Field Squadron RCE use an aluminum floating draw bridge to cross the turbulent Chilliwack River, 9 May 1962 [1999.029.021.023]

Chilliwack Progress Press Photograph: Infantry Pioneers attached to 3 Field Squadron RCE use an aluminum floating draw bridge to cross the turbulent Chilliwack River, 9 May 1962 [1999.029.021.023]

Still not having any luck finding that perfect image for you?  Stop by the Archives on a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday between 9:00 am and 4:30 pm or schedule an appointment on a Tuesday or Thursday and let us assist you in your research.

 

Found the perfect image and looking to place that order?

 

Don’t worry, placing a photograph order is a lot easier than shoveling your driveway after an ice storm.  You can place an order in person at the Archives (9291 Corbould Street), over the phone: (604) 795-5210 ext. 108, or by email.

Still have questions?  Email or call the Archives and let us help guide you with your research or photo order.

Moustache Moves in Movember

Posted on: November 22nd, 2017 by Tristan Evans

In November (Movember), Mo Bros, supported by their Mo Sistas, grow out their moustache for 30 days to raise money and awareness for men’s health issues – particularly prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health awareness.  While some individuals rejoice at the opportunity to show off a moustache for 30 days, many young men spend Movember desperately trying to hide their moustache seemingly afraid of sporting such a style in 2017.  If you are one of these individuals, fear not.  Here are a few historic photographs of Chilliwack locals rocking a solid Mo.

 

 

Group portrait of Chief K’hhalserten Sepass family at Skowkale, P5571. [1912]

Group portrait of Chief K’hhalserten Sepass family at Skowkale, P5571. [1912]

Chief K’hhalserten (William Sepass) of Sq’ewqéyl was born circa 1845.  He was a respected and admired individual during a time of great disruption for his community. Chief K’hhalserten Sepass was forced to observed many changes in his community.  Re-settlers had moved into the valley and drastically changed the surrounding environment, reserves were established, and Euro-Canadian agriculture and labouring systems replaced traditional ways of living.  A first hand witness to these changes, Chief Khhalserten Sepass worked with Sophia White Street for four years translating songs from his community. The Sepass Poems: Songs of Y-Ail-Mihth, was eventually published by the Sepass Trust in 1963.  At the age of 98, Chief K’hhalserten Sepass died on March 23, 1943.  His lifetime of advocacy along with a reputation for fairness and wisdom remain as a legacy of his achievement and greatness.

 

 

 

 

Detailed view of David Richardson, P704. [1915]

Detailed view of David Richardson, P704. [1915]

David Richardson was born in Scotland in 1867.  In 1886 he joined the Lanarkshire Police and in 1891 he married Mary Prosser.  When Richardson immigrated his family to Canada he was a Police Inspector and Fire Chief for Rutherford District.  In 1913, David Richardson was granted the position of Chilliwack Chief of Police.  David and Mary Richardson eventually had 8 children, including James Cleland Richardson who received the Victoria Cross for rallying his company on October 8, 1916, during the Battle of the Somme.  In 1920, David Richardson retired from the police force and worked as a janitor at Chilliwack High School.  Active in many Chilliwack organizations, David Richardson passed away in February 1955.  Mary Richardson died in June 1956.

 

 

 

 

Looking for more great moustaches from Chilliwack’s past?  Here are a couple more individuals.

 

Portrait of Arlo Kipp, 2002.073.013. [ca. 1943]

Portrait of Arlo Kipp, 2002.073.013. [ca. 1943]

Arlo Kipp was the second of three children born to Wilfred Harvey and Winnifred (Baxter) Kipp.  He was the grandson of Chilliwack re-settler family Henry and Caroline Ann (Trenaman) Kipp.  Arlo served in the Canadian military during WWII.  After the war Arlo returned to Cultus Lake where he became the new secretary/manager of the Cultus Lake Park Board.  Additionally he served as postmaster from 1946 to 1973.  Arlo Kipp married Evelyn Pulford.  He passed away in 1984.

 

 

 

 

 

 

But wait… there’s more… 

 

Chilliwack Progress Press Photo: Francis Horne, 07 September 1977, page 29, 1999.029.179.002.

Chilliwack Progress Press Photo: Francis Horne, 07 September 1977, page 29, 1999.029.179.002.

Born in 1954, Francis Horne Sr. is a highly accomplished and respected self-taught carving artist.  At the time of this photograph in 1977, Francis was living near Chilliwack River Road at the Yeqwyeqwi:ws (Yakweakwioose) First Nation.  Francis Horne Sr. taught his son Francis Horne Jr. the art of carving.  Francis Horne Jr., a member of the Yaweakwioose First Nation is also an accomplished artist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately archival records are limited on the following  individual.  However, it is pretty hard to deny that he rocked a solid Mo.

 

Chilliwack Progress Press Photo: Hop Picker, unnumbered.

Chilliwack Progress Press Photo: Hop Picker, unnumbered.

Chilliwack has a rich history that includes many different communities and ethnic groups.  The photograph to the right depicts an unidentified hop picker rocking a solid moustache working in Chilliwack, BC.  Archival records indicate the photograph was probably taken in September, 1977 for a hop special written by the Progress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And Finally…

 

Archivist Tristan Evans on vacation with family, 12 November 2017. Photo Credit: Alexandra Renee

Archivist Tristan Evans on vacation with family, 12 November 2017. Photo Credit: Alexandra Renee

Archivist Tristan Evans on vacation with the family sporting a moustache for Movember.  Left to right: Tristan Evans, Chelsea Daughters, Brandon Evans.

Eddy-Out and Ferry through Some Local History

Posted on: October 18th, 2017 by Tristan Evans

Sometimes it is the historical tangents that prove to be the best stories.  While looking up landings and ferries near Chilliwack I came across this brief news clipping from 1936:

“The Rosedale-Agassiz ferry, J. T. Henley, captain, which suffered a breakdown Monday noon, had repairs effected in time for it to resume regular schedule Wednesday” (Chilliwack Progress, 14 October 1936).

Captain John Thomas Jack Henley. [PP500358]

Captain John Thomas Jack Henley. [PP500358]

The clipping is short and to the point because everyone in town already knew about the Rosedale-Agassiz ferry and the ferry’s captain.  However, being a relatively new arrival to Chilliwack (by 1936 standards) I had not heard of Captain Henley before.  Therefore I dove deeper into the archival records.  Treading through the stacks I learned that there is so much more to this story than just a minor repair to a ferry.

John Thomas Henley was born on October 11, 1872 near Owen Sound, Ontario.  In 1894, Henley began migrating west spending time harvesting in Manitoba and logging in Wisconsin and Minnesota.  Four years later he arrived in Vancouver.  He quickly departed Vancouver for Dawson, Yukon where he “found gold… and spent it too” (Chilliwack Progress, 14 February 1961).  Nine years later Henley left the Yukon for Chilliwack arriving in June, 1908.  A world traveler, Henley said later in life, “I’ve seen most of the major productive spots in the world, but none of them can top the Chilliwack Valley in horticulture and agriculture” (Chilliwack Progress, 7 December 1949).

In Chilliwack Henley worked for nine years as a butcher and served as an Aldermen for the City of Chilliwack from 1928-1933 and again from 1942-1948.  However, he is best known as the ferry captain on the Rosedale-Agassiz ferry.

Acrylic Painting of the Eena ferry on the Agassiz side of the Fraser River. [1986.042.016]

Acrylic Painting of the Eena ferry on the Agassiz side of the Fraser River. [1986.042.016]

Henley’s captain career had an inauspicious start.  His first ship, the John P. Douglas, burned in the mouth of the Harrison River on its run to Harrison Mills.  Henley’s second ship, the Vedder, burned in the mouth of the Stikine River.  Please note that sources vary on exactly where the ship burned.

Despite the setbacks Henley continued to operate a ferry between Chilliwack and Harrison Mills for nine years.  Henley later said, “I’ve had a lot of misfortunes, but I’ve always had good health to carry me along.  And I’ve had a lot of fun, too” (Chilliwack Progress, 7 December 1949).

In 1932, after serving as an engineer on the Rosedale-Agassiz ferry Henley “took a charter contract to operate the ferry boat for the provincial government, under the public works department…” and became “master and manager of the ferry at the Rosedale-Agassiz landings” (Chilliwack Museum and Archives, AM 22, File 122).  Henley served as the Captain of the Eena until 1951 managing the Rosedale-Agassiz ferry.  Please note that sources differ on Henley’s exact captainship.  Some sources say he was a captain in 1929 of the Eena while other say he was only a crew member and not captain until 1932.

Ever restless, in 1938 Henley briefly left Chilliwack for a world tour.  His tour included Singapore, Mount Everest, the Taj Mahal, Egypt, Palestine, France, England, and Scotland.  He even “had a turn or two around Gai Paree” (Chilliwack Progress, 7 December 1949).  Never short of witty comments, on his return to Chilliwack Henley told reporters:

“Of the four most wonderful man-made things I saw on the trip, I had to come home to Canada to see the one that topped them all… There was the Taj Mahal in India, the bust of the Virgin Mary in Jerusalem and the crown jewels in the Tower of London.  But the most wondrous thing of all was the sight of the Dionne Quintuplets in Canada… I saw Niagara Falls too, for the first time and then I came back to Chilliwack and witnessed another amazing thing… a man with a wooden leg dancing the two-step” (Chilliwack Museum and Archives, AM 335).

Captain John T. Henley died at Chilliwack general hospital on February 13, 1961.  At the very least he was an interesting re-settler of the Chilliwack valley and seemed like the kind of individual worth grabbing a drink with.

Digitizing the Frederick Gordon Leary Fonds

Posted on: September 13th, 2017 by Tristan Evans

Photograph of a group of men at one of Chilliwack's landings (possibly Minto Landing), ca. 1914. [2015.063.033]

Photograph of a group of men at one of Chilliwack’s landings (possibly Minto Landing), ca. 1914. [2015.063.033]

In my first blog post, The Decision to Digitize, I discussed the various challenges associated with digitization and why we do not digitize everything at the Archives.  While most of our records will likely never be completely digitized, there are some occasions when it is appropriate to digitize an entire collection.  I am not going to say that I exactly lied to you about digitizing archival records; but rather, this is one of those rare occasions when it was decided that the work and costs associated with digitization were well worth the advantage of accessibility.

Last year, archivist Shannon Bettles wrote a blog titled, Alligators, Confectionary, and a man named Leary.  If you have not had the opportunity to read this blog I strongly encourage you to take a look.  The blog describes the fascinating story of how the Frederick Gordon Leary fonds (previously known as the Dragonfly collection) made its way into our collection.  My favourite part is, of course, the KeyThe Key gives you a brief inside into how us archivist will use the collection itself to determine provenance.

Man pictured on the steps of a building by a railway intersection, possibly a track-changing station, ca. 1914. [2015.063.029]

Man pictured on the steps of a building by a railway intersection, possibly a track-changing station, ca. 1914. [2015.063.029]

Over the past summer, archival and curatorial assistant Rachel Vandenberg, and volunteer Ev Parker worked on digitizing and describing the Frederick Gordon Leary fonds.  Some minor details have changed since Shannon’s original blog – most notably the name of the fonds and some of the specific identification numbers.  Nevertheless, I am proud to say that all of the glass plate negatives and photographic prints from this collection have been digitized and described.

Please feel free to take a look at the Frederick Gordon Leary fonds on this direct link and enjoy these amazing photographs of Chilliwack just past the turn of the century.  Once you have chosen your dream house from amongst photographs, feel free to change the search terms and take a look at our other collections.