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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.

Project Naming – Stó:lō and S’olh Temexw Version

Posted on: July 26th, 2017 by Tristan Evans

Earlier this year I was fortunate to travel to Victoria to attend the 2017 Archives Association of British Columbia Conference.  During this conference I was introduced to the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) project, Project Naming.  In short, Project Naming is a collaborative effort between Nunavut Sivuniksavut; Nunavut’s Department of Culture, Languages, Elders and Youth; and LAC.  In Project Naming, photographic records of Canada’s northern Indigenous population with little or no description are posted on various social media platforms.  Project Naming asks the community if anyone recognizes the individual(s) in the photograph or has any other relevant information so that Library and Archives Canada can update their archival record.

 

Young Women with Woolly Dog, James O. Booen Photograph, ca. 1895-1897. [P Coll 120 P25]

Young Women with Woolly Dog, James O. Booen Photograph, ca. 1895-1897. [P Coll 120 P25]

From the Library and Archives Canada website:

 

“Project Naming enables Indigenous individuals to engage in the identification of photographs from Library and Archives Canada… the majority of individuals depicted in the images in LAC’s collections were never identified.  Many archival descriptions relating to events or activities are absent or have dated information (e.g. place names, band names, or terminology).  Or information is based on original inscriptions and captions found on the records, and hence reflects the biases and attitudes of non-Aboriginal society at the time.”

 

Inspired by Project Naming, today I am th’ith’exwstélémét (asking for help).  In the J. O. Booen fonds is a glass plate negative depicting what we have been told are two Stó:lō women with a woolly dog.  The photograph was taken by James Orville Booen who was based in Chilliwack from October 1895-1897.  Beyond that, we know very little about the photograph.

 

Detail of the James O. Booen photograph of Stó:lō women with woolly dog, ca. 1895-1897. [P Coll 120 P25]

Detail of the James O. Booen photograph of Stó:lō women with woolly dog, ca. 1895-1897. [P Coll 120 P25]

Do you recognize the women in this photograph?

 

Have you seen the print of this negative at a family or friends house?

 

If you have any information regarding this photograph please feel free to contact the Chilliwack Museum and Archives, or myself directly, and we will happily update our archival records.  I would also like to thank the Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Centre for confirming the use of this photograph.

 

Thank you for looking.

 

[email protected]

604-795-5210 ext. 104

Preventing Pest Infestation – Don’t Bug Out

Posted on: June 21st, 2017 by Tristan Evans

Disclaimer: Content in the following blog post may be disturbing to bug lovers. 

Recently I picked up a donation for the archives that caused me some concern.  Before bringing the newly acquired collection into the stacks I noticed a silverfish at the bottom of the bankers box.  Archival instincts taking over, I immediately crushed the insect.

Destruction after grazing of silverfish.  Photo Credit: Micha L. Rieser (Wikipedia)

Destruction after grazing of silverfish. Photo Credit: Micha L. Rieser (Wikipedia)

Panic is seldom a word heard in the archives profession.  With my heartbeat rising, my mind immediately raced to the horror stories I heard about at archival conferences.  Sweaty palms, I needed to address the situation and address it quickly.  Perhaps the word panic is a bit melodramatic; but, it’s not every blog post that I get to exaggerate somewhat.

Silverfish – Lepisma Saccharina – will graze across records leaving a wake of destruction in their path.  Okay, maybe not exactly a wake of destruction but they can multiple and precautions should be taken to keep their populations in control.  In his book, “How to Recognize and Eliminate Silverfish, Beetles, Cockroaches, Moths, Termites, Rats and Mildew in Libraries and Archives,” Thomas A. Parker explains how Silverfish enter an institution.

“They lay eggs in the corrugations of cardboard boxes, one of their favorite areas for egg deposition.  Although the adult silverfish may not feed directly on the cardboard, they very commonly feed on the glue that holds the cardboard box together.  With every cardboard box coming into a library, a new load of silverfish and their eggs is bound to arrive.  Upon hatching, depending on the conditions in which the box is stored, they may then roam widely to find a suitable food source.”

 

Alright everyone, Chill!  

Obviously, it is nearly impossible to prevent silverfish and other pests from entering an archive.  The best preventative solution is environmental control, cleanliness, and monitoring in the stacks.  Nevertheless, records that have obviously been compromised should be addressed before the archivist places them in the same stacks as other records.  One of the easiest and most effective ways to eliminate bugs and their eggs on paper material is by freezing the records.

Step one: Isolate the material.  I kept the material in my truck while I consulted my archival pest management manuals.

Freezing records at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives.  Photo credit: Tristan Evans (June 19, 2017)

Freezing records at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives. Photo credit: Tristan Evans (June 19, 2017)

Step two: Wrap the records in plastic or Ziploc bags tightly and seal them with water resistant tape to prevent condensation from forming.

Step three: Freeze the materials at a temperature of at least -20 C for 72 hours.

Step four: Remove the material and defrost as slowly as possible.  Keep the records sealed for roughly three weeks and watch for holes in the plastic.  If holes do appear, eggs within the compromised records may not have been killed during the freezing process and the hatched bugs may be attempting to escape by eating their way out.

Repeat as necessary.

When it comes to silverfish and other forms of pests my mind defaults to what Mr. Freeze eloquently said, “I’m afraid my condition has left me cold to your pleas of mercy.”

Microfilm and Microfiche

Posted on: May 17th, 2017 by Tristan Evans
Microfiche

Microfilm and microfiche at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives.

Have you ever wondered what that old looking machine tucked away in the back of the research room is and what it is used for?  Is it a really old computer?  Is it a machine used to watch videos on an older format?  Perhaps it is used to digitize images?  In fact, it is a microfilm/microfiche reader.  Now you may be asking, what is microfilm/microfiche and why is it used at the archives?

According to the Society of American Archivist, microfilm is “transparent film containing highly reduced copies of documents.”  Similar to microfilm, microfiche is “a sheet of transparent film [with]  microimages arranged in rows and columns, usually with an area for eye-readable description at the top.”  In layman’s terms, this means that both microfilm and microfiche are tiny images of documents on either a rolled film or a flat sheet, respectively.  At its core, the microfilm reader is just a big magnifying glass that shines a light through the film allowing the researcher to read the microfilm or microfiche.

Rachel Microfilm

Summer intern Rachel Vandenberg doing property research on microfilm, May 16, 2017.

What makes microfilm and microfiche so indispensable to archives is its preservation and access value.  To touch on the latter first, all you need to read microfilm or microfiche is light and a magnifying glass.  There is no need to worry about special computer programs, obsolete machinery, or corrupted digital files.  To be fair, searching through microfilm or microfiche can be significantly time consuming when compared to digital keyword searchable files.  However, should the medium for whatever technology you are using in the future fail–as all things do at some point–you will still be able to read and access the information on microfilm and/or microfiche with a magnifying glass and a flashlight.

Microfilm/microfiche is also a fantastic resource for preserving archival records.  As the name implies, microfilm/microfiche is a miniature version of the original document.  The information on an old municipal tax roll that is 40 x 50 x 17 cm can fit into a 10 x 10 x 4 cm microfilm roll.  As limited space is a concern for nearly every archive, microfilm/microfiche is a great resource for storing the historical data of these records.  Furthermore, stored properly microfilm/microfiche has a minimum life expectancy of 500 years.  This is why so many archives have microfilmed their newspaper collections, which are often made of highly acidic and easily degradable paper.

There is nothing glamorous about microfilm or microfiche and doing research on these mediums is time consuming.  However, microfilm and microfiche are tried-and-true preservation resources.  Consider them another tool in the archivist toolkit that is likely to stick around for the foreseeable future.  Chances are, if you are doing property ownership research and looking at old township tax rolls at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives, you will likely have the opportunity to use that strange-looking machine in the back of the research room.

Getting ready for the 2017 BCHF Conference

Posted on: May 10th, 2017 by Stephanie Clinton

Over the past 7 months I’ve been lucky to sit on the BCHF Conference Committee to help bring a fantastic lineup of lectures, field trips, and events to our community.

The BC Historical Federation was established in 1922 and acts as an umbrella association for historical societies in British Columbia. As the BCHF conference hosts for 2017, the Chilliwack Museum and Historical Society has been organizing tours and lectures which highlight our local history. Having been able to sit on the organizing committee since the start, I’ve seen firsthand how difficult it has been to cut down the options for tours and lectures for just 4 days of programming. Chilliwack has such a wealth of historical sites and information to share!

BCHF conference tours include a trip to the New Siberia Farm, a 92 year old farm!

BCHF conference tours include a trip to the New Siberia Farm, a 92 year old farm!

That being said, we have been able to put together a fantastic lineup that really showcases the diversity of our area and highlights the importance of preserving and caring for our history today. This is a 4 day festival of history that is accessible and open to everyone, not just those working in the field.

What can you expect?

Whether you’re new to Chilliwack or have lived here all your life, there’s something new for you to explore. The lineup includes workshops, lectures, field trips and evening presentations around the conference theme of “Land, Water, People”. For example:

  • Learn how to take care of your family artifacts, photographs and personal papers with accomplished family historians Brenda L. Smith and Diane Rogers. Get behind the scenes tours of the Chilliwack Archives and learn more about the work of the archives at our Archives Bootcamp.
  • Join for lectures by experts in their fields. Topics range from ‘Flood Management’, ‘Modern Treaties and Reconciliation’ to ‘Finding Chilliwack’s Fallen’, addressing our past, current, and future relationship with the land, water, and people of Chilliwack.
  • Hop on a bus and explore sites around Chilliwack, including tours to local hop and dairy farms, Stó:lō nation, historic river boat landings, and more!

Conference registration is open to all. Sign up for the full 4 days, 1 day packagesindividual event tickets, or workshops. If you’re a Chilliwack Museum and Historical Society member, don’t forget you receive BCHF Member pricing for the conference!

See you May 25-28!