Here at the Digitization Centre we are fascinated and excited by the vast amount of primary-source material that our digitization work exposes us to.  Whether a document of historic significance, a beautiful illustration, or even a particularly fine typeface, we are frequently amazed by the materials we’re working to share with the world.  So much so, that not only will we crowd around to ogle a particularly interesting specimen, but we’ve started decorating our workplace with copies of some of our favorites.  But why stop there?  Surely, we can’t be the only ones geeky enough to appreciate such “gems” in our collections, and so we’ve decided to share them here with you.  Below you will find some of our favorites, hand-picked by staff from both existing and upcoming collections.  We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!   TIP: To view full resolution versions of the images on any size screen, click to enlarge and then right-click and select “open image in new tab.”

Early 20th Century View Of Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia

Posted on November 29, 2012 @3:40 pm by Rob

A beautiful glass plate negative from the Rosetti studios in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. This image depicts Siwash Rock located on the northwest edge of Stanley Park in Vancouver. These negatives have a great depth to them yielding lustrous digital images. Check out the other images in the collection (N.B. We are in the process of upgrading the images in the collection to match the resolution of this one. Please stay tuned.)

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Story of Victor Wong

Posted on November 14, 2012 @11:54 am by Mayu

Victor Wong is a WWII veteran from Victoria, BC. He was one of thousands of Chinese immigrants enlisted by the Canadian forces during the war and assigned to the British forces. The British territories in Asia had been occupied by Japan, and English speakers of Chinese origin were sent there to engage in guerrilla warfare and take back the territories. At that time, Chinese immigrants were not allowed Canadian citizenship.  Victor recalls:
“‘Why should you go when you’re not even a Canadian?’ So we all decided in our town hall meetings that the best way to do is to go and sign up and go and come back and lobby for the franchise. This is exactly what we did.”

By fighting in WWII, Chinese immigrants won not only freedom for Europe and Asia, but also won Canadian citizenship for their community. You can read and hear more of his story at http://www.thememoryproject.com/stories/480:victor-eric-wong/

The picture of Victor and his army discharge certificate have been digitized in partnership with the Chinese Canadian Military Museum Society (http://www.ccmms.ca/) and are part of a project “Chinese Canadian Stories: Uncommon Histories from a Common Past” (http://chinesecanadian.ubc.ca/).

Photograph of Victor WongCanadian Army Discharge Certificate of Victor Wong





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CP Hotel menus

Posted on November 9, 2012 @11:35 am by Larissa

Have you ever ordered food from hotel room service and were shocked when your clubhouse and coffee came to $30?  Well, it looks like steep room service prices aren’t a recent phenomenon.

Take this 1962 menu from the historic CP Empress Hotel in Victoria.  Billed as a typical winter menu for the hotel dining room, it includes contemporary delicacies such as Jellied Beef Tea and Chantilly Raisin Pie.  It also lists broiled petit filet mignon with béarnaise sauce for $3.25 – according to the Bank of Canada inflation calculator, the cost today would be $24.94.

The convenience of ordering a filet mignon with béarnaise sauce to be delivered to your room – perhaps while enjoying a nice martini – is tempting.  According to the Empress’ room service menu from the same time period, the same filet will set you back $8.50.  Or, $61.66 in today’s prices.  Although the room service filet does come with sautéed mushrooms. Perhaps mushrooms were extraordinarily expensive in the 1960’s?

If we move over to the mainland, an earlier (1939) room service dinner menu from the Hotel Vancouver has filet mignon for $1.30 – that’s $20.97 in 2012 prices, 19% less than the adjusted cost of the 1962 dining room filet.  Why so much cheaper – the local economy?  Food costs?  The fact that béarnaise sauce wasn’t offered in 1939?

But if $1.30 was still too much for you back then, never fear.  Cheaper options were also available, like a tongue sandwich for 45¢ ($7.22 today). Or a salad of “avocado with shrimps” (shrimps! more than one!) for 85¢ ($13.64 today).

These menus are part of the Chung Collection‘s Canadian Pacific materials that are currently being digitized thanks to support from CP, and will soon be available online. 

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Baseball at internment camps

Posted on October 23, 2012 @11:56 am by Mayu

The Japanese Canadian Photograph Collection (JCPC) chronicles the experiences of Japanese Canadians / Nikkei in British Columbia including their internment during World War II. These photographs from the JCPC are a testament to the popularity of baseball at internment camps.  (Left: at Lucerne, B.C. in the Yellow Pass, Bottom: at an unidentified camp) Baseball was a cornerstone of social life in internment camps, and at the forefront were former players of the Vancouver Asahi, a Nikkei baseball team based at Oppenheimer Park. Before disbanding after the 1941 season, the Vancouver Asahi competed against Nikkei and Euro-Canadian teams and won multiple championships. When playing at camps, they helped ease the pain of internment, and their sportsmanship brought about mutual respect between the Nikkei and Euro-Canadians.











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The Berkeley Poster Collection

Posted on October 18, 2012 @1:18 pm by Rob

Unity in our love of man

The Berkeley Posters collection, housed in Rare Books & Special Collections at the UBC Library, comprises 250 posters from the years 1968 to 1973. Covering anti-war and pro-social justice themes the posters run the gamut of concerns of the time such as the Vietnam War and corporate responsibility. Produced by student and underground groups on the University of California Berkeley campus and around the San Francisco Bay Area the posters feature striking art and often used found materials such as used continuous form paper as in the featured image above (note the dot-matrix or line printing on the poster verso [back]). Highly ephemeral in nature the posters were collected by Helmut Jung of Gold River, British Columbia and donated to the UBC Library.


御開港横濵之全圖 Gokaikō Yokohama no zenzu (Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era)

Posted on October 4, 2012 @12:38 pm by Mayu

 Gokaiko Yokohama no zenzu (1859)

In 1858, Japan signed the Ansei Five-Power Treaties with the United States, Great Britain, Russia, Netherlands, and France. The following year in 1859, the port of Yokohama opened to foreign trade as specified in these treaties. 御開港横濵之全圖 Gokaikō Yokohama no zenzu marks the opening of the port and depicts ships from the five nations anchored in the bay. In this map, we are looking at the port of Yokohama from North West. North is not always at the top of Japanese maps.

There is a close tie between the Port of Yokohama and the Port of Vancouver. A Japanese ocean liner Hikawa Maru travelled between these two ports from 1930 to 1954, transporting Japanese immigrants to Canada. (Hikawa Maru is permanently berthed at the Port of Yokohama as a floating museum.) Yokohama and Vancouver are sister cities since 1965.  The scene of this map reminds me of the English Bay, with oil tankers in place of the sailing ships!

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David Conde Fonds

Posted on January 22, 2013 @3:54 pm by Larissa

Japanese propoganda leafletThis image is from a project currently underway: the digitization of the David Conde Fonds. A Canadian journalist working in Japan from the 1940’s through the 1960’s, David Conde reported on the IMTFE (International Military Tribunal for the Far East) trials for Reuters from 1946-1948.  Also known as the Tokyo War Crimes Trials, the tribunal brought charges against leaders of the Japanese Empire for war crimes. 

David Conde was ultimately expelled from the trial proceedings by General Douglas MacArthur, but not before collecting a massive amount of documentation.  Aside from the court proceedings, there are biographical profiles on the defendants, copies of exhibits, evidence, and diplomatic communications, as well as Conde’s copious research materials.

This image is an example of Japanese propaganda from the trial exhibits, intended for U.S. servicemen in the Philippines.  A fairly charming illustration on its own, the text warns of cutting off the lines of supply for Allied troops (click on the image to make it bigger).  The crabs look a little more sinister now, don’t they?

We have been partnering with the University of Tokyo to digitize these IMTFE materials – along with the rest of David Conde’s fonds – which will become available in UBC’s digital collections.  Stay tuned … in the meantime, you can read more about the David Conde fonds and its contents here.

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A Century Ago In Stanley Park

Posted on September 27, 2012 @1:04 pm by Schuyler Lindberg

The following images, part of UBC Library Archive’s Haweis Family fonds (PDF link), are from of a series of images taken by Rosetti Photographic Studios in Vancouver’s Stanley Park in 1912.  

Lionel Haweis emigrated to Canada from England in 1907, where he opened Rosetti Photographic Studios on Pender St., and later on Robson St. In 1918 he was appointed to the staff of UBC Library, retiring in 1939. He was well-known in the literary life in Vancouver as founder of the UBC Arts and Letters Club, and a member of various literary clubs, the Little Theatre, and the Vancouver Overseas Club. In addition to his earlier writings he also authored an Indian ballad (Tsoqualem) and a play (The Rose of Persia). He died in 1942.

The Stanley Park images are currently available in the Rosetti Studios – Stanley Park digital collection and Digital Initiatives is in the process of rescanning the original glass plate negatives, and will soon be updating the collection with beautifully high resolution images that better preserve the incredible detail captured in the original negatives.  Interestingly, while re-scanning we noticed that the handwritten captions were actually written backwards directly onto the negatives (which we have scanned and digitally inverted to produce the images below).

While the first image looks like it could have been taken yesterday, the conspicuous absence of the Lion’s Gate Bridge (not to mention all of North and West Vancouver) in the second image, and the classy old McLaughlin(?) in the third really give them away.

No. 22 ‘Morning Sheen and a Silvery Mist’ Stanley Park, Vancouver B.C.


No. M 15 ‘Tide Rip’ First Narrows from Stanley Park, Vancouver, B.C.


No. 59 ‘Second Beach’ Vancouver, B.C.

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BC Historical Newspapers

Posted on September 21, 2012 @11:42 am by mikec

Digital Initiatives has added two new titles to the BC Historical Newspapers website.  In collaboration with the Sunshine Coast Museum and Archives, we have uploaded 40 years of the Coast News to our collection.  The Coast News issues span the 1940s to 1980s documenting some of the most significant social and technological changes in BC history.  

Also added is the complete run of the Western Call covering Vancouver’s checkered history from 1910–1916. Over the next few months we will be adding more titles as well completing the runs of existing titles.  Stay tuned for more.

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Traveling in Style

Posted on July 23, 2012 @12:41 pm by Schuyler Lindberg

Perhaps we’ve just been overexposed to Canadian Pacific’s historic promotional material, but enjoying a fine meal while glorious views of Stoney Creek and the Selkirks rush by to the clickity-clack of the railroad ties sure sounds enticing.  This section of mountainous track and bridges between Field and Revelstoke was an engineering marvel of its day, and the chance to see the historic route in all its glory makes us wish our time machine was up and running.

Both images are part of UBC Rare Books and Special Collections’ Chung Collection and will be included in the upcoming Canadian Pacific digital collection.

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