The Collective Picture

Vintage Photography Redefined

admin On August - 1 - 2009

With a long weekend in full swing excitement abounds over having three days off. Why do we get the weekday closest to August 1st off? and what exactly, beyond being a holiday, does it mean? It is not that old of a holiday, to my surprise it was first introduced as a Bill in 1974. Some how I thought that this day would have been much older but it seems that the need to recognize this province in holiday form is a relatively new development. According to the explanatory notes prefacing the bill “The purposes of this Bill is to recognize the pioneers of British Columbia by declaring the first Monday of August in each year to be a public holiday known as British Columbia Day…We feel that the holiday should be dedicated to the pioneers who built the colony of British Columbia into the great province it is today….”

As much as I agree with celebrating the founders of a province, I wonder how inclusive a term “pioneer” is and does it serve to accurately reference the diverse groups that helped to build  this province? It certainly seems to reference the  settlers that braved the rugged terrain to bring ‘civilization’ to the west coast of Canada. But what about the aboriginal groups, here since ‘time immortal’, that braved the transformations that occurred as ‘civilization’ came west, are they also ‘pioneers’? Or the immigrant populations that lived and worked as temporary labour to assist in building the rail lines that would move the goods and people west, are they “pioneers” ? We certainly do not apply this term to the migrant laborers that come to this country today.

With this idea of needing to have a more broadened sense of whom this holiday celebrates I have posted bellow some images from the late 1800’s that show some of the cities and industries that have defined B.C’s formation as well as the people, Native Americans, rail road workers and settlers.

For most people B.C. day is just a day off and this is not too far from the reason this holiday was created, also in the notes that accompany the B.C day bill is the following “We feel that British Columbia, like every other province could benefit and should have a holiday around August 1.” so the wording of ‘pioneers’ and who this day is dedicated for may not have mattered to the people who created it, let alone for the those that observe it as a holiday. Wether or not you see it as significant who this day is specified for I think we can all agree on the beauty and interesting history that this province was formed on and that is what these photos document and maybe in the end what B.C. day should celebrate, regardless of what the notes for this Bill state.

1870’s British Columbia aboriginals meetng B.C. Daydays on the calendar

circa. 1870’s-British Columbia aboriginals attending a mission meeting. Additional Information. Some views in the album attributed to Frederick Dally.  “The title of this image is taken from the original inscription. However, other sources indicate the image is a view of a ceremony in 1867 (?) of the British Columbia Lieut. Governor and Lady Seymour receiving the “colours” of the local artillery that took their name. This ceremony took place on the cricket field cleared on the high bank of the Fraser River which adjoined the Governor’s residence.” Credit: Library and Archives Canada/C-037856
Restrictions on use: Nil
Copyright: Expired.

1886_ Police_end_CPR_Golden_B.C

Northwest Mounted Police at end of CPR tracks, Golden, B.C., 1886. Copyright: Expired Restrictions: Nil. Canadian National Archives.1886 chinese camp pacific railway kamloops B.C Canada B.C. Daydays on the calendar

Chinese camp (Canadian Pacific Railway), Kamloops, British Columbia. 1886. Credit: Edouard Deville / Library and Archives Canada / C-021990
Restrictions on use: Nil
Copyright: Expired

1887 Esquimault Dry Dock BC Canada B.C. Daydays on the calendar

1887, Esquimault Dry Dock near Victoria, BC, William McFarlane Notman. Notman photographic Archives – McCord Museum

1887_Kamloops _ C.P.R._BC_Canada

1887, Kamloops on the C.P.R., BC, Canada, William McFarlane Notman, Notman photographic Archives – McCord Museum

1897 Victoria BC Canada B.C. Daydays on the calendar

1897, Victoria from cathedral tower, BC, Canada. William McFarlane Notman. Notman photographic Archives – McCord Museum

1898 opening parliament Victoria B.C Canada B.C. Daydays on the calendar

10 Feb 1898. Opening of new Parliament buildings at Victoria, British Columbia, February 10, 1898 – Guard of honor. Credit: Canada. Patent and Copyright Office / Library and Archives Canada / PA-028866
Restrictions on use: Nil
Copyright: Expired Photographer: Jones, J.W.


10 Feb 1898 Opening of new Parliament buildings at Victoria, British Columbia, February 10, 1898 – Arrival of the Lieutenant Governor and suite. Credit: Canada. Patent and Copyright Office / Library and Archives Canada / PA-028865
Restrictions on use: Nil
Copyright: Expired.

settler north thompson river B.C Canada B.C. Daydays on the calendar

Settler bringing in tile, North Thompson River, B.C. Credit: Canada. Dept. of Mines and Resources / Library and Archives Canada / PA-021739
Restrictions on use: Nil
Copyright: Expired.

logging fraer valley B.C B.C. Daydays on the calendar

Douglas fir in Fraser Valley, B.C. Credit: Canada. Dept. of Interior. Library and Archives Canada / PA-040967
Restrictions on use: Nil
Copyright: Expired.
For more images of British Columbia try Canada National Archives, I also have a post that focuses in on Vancouver and uses photographs that are not displayed here

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