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.”

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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地理 初歩 – Elementary Geography to learn by heart

Posted on July 23, 2012 @12:46 pm by Schuyler Lindberg

Kaisei chiri shoho ansha no zu: Another gorgeous woodcut from the Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era digital collection (almost all of which could probably be featured here..)

We were particularly struck by the almost abstract beauty in this piece’s mix of cartographic and illustrated blocks.  Its intended function remains elusive, although the title suggests an instructional purpose. Let us know if you can shed any light on the matter!

Don’t forget, you can also come by UBC’s Rare Books and Special Collections to view this collection up close and personal!

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Posted on July 23, 2012 @12:46 pm by Schuyler Lindberg

This double-sided Japanese woodcut displays a world map on the front and illustrated examples of the peoples of the world on the verso.  It exemplifies the Bankoku-sozu (“complete maps of the peoples of the world”) style of cartography influenced by European techniques and geographic knowledge in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  

It can be found in the Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era digital collection, which has recently been upgraded to higher resolution images for improved viewing and zooming.



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Common Stock

Posted on July 23, 2012 @12:46 pm by Schuyler Lindberg

This Canadian Pacific Railway Company stock certificate from 1915 not only represents what was probably a lucrative investment for Mr. Archibald White Maconochie, but is a something of a work of art in its own right.  We’re particularly fond of the inset locomotive engraving.

Part of UBC Rare Books and Special Collections’ Chung Collection and to be included in the upcoming Canadian Pacific digital collection.

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All ‘Round the World (1860-1862)

Posted on July 23, 2012 @12:47 pm by Schuyler Lindberg

All ‘Round the World
 is a three account by William Ainsworth of his travels around the world in the early 1860s.  Chock-full of beautifully crafted historic engravings of exotic locales like the Ateshgah of Baku and Mt. Etna, we enjoyed this set so much that we decided to do some high quality scans of some of our favorites to share and festoon our walls with.  

All three volumes will be included in their entirety in the upcoming BC Bibliography collection.

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Invest in Kerrisdale!

Posted on July 23, 2012 @12:47 pm by Schuyler Lindberg

This advertisement from a 1910 issue of Opportunities magazine made us all wish we’d been around to take advantage of the deal


The full anthology of Opportunities issues will be available to view in the upcoming BC Bibliography digital collection.


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The Transit of Venus (1883)

Posted on July 23, 2012 @12:47 pm by Schuyler Lindberg


“The Transit of Venus” J.G. Brown, 1883

With the recent hubbub over the upcoming transit of venus we noticed copies of this image kicking around the ‘net in varying qualities, and thought to ourselves, “we can do better.”  A quick search of the UBC ASRS yielded Harper’s Weekly; A Journal of Civilization (1857-1916), and sure enough, this image of children staring at the sun originally published on Saturday April 28th, 1883.  It turned out wonderfully at 600dpi on our Epson flatbed.

The second (cropped) image shows the intricate detail of the original engraving.  The full volume contains many more beautiful illustrations and is well worth checking out at the Irving K. Barber Center Library branch.

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H. Bullock Webster’s Sketchbook

Posted on July 23, 2012 @12:47 pm by Schuyler Lindberg

Sketches of the Canadian west by H. Bullock Webster (1855-1942).  As a young man he came to Canada from England and began working as an apprentice clerk for the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1874. While in the service of the company Webster travelled extensively to HBC posts throughout northern Alberta and British Columbia.  Although never formally trained in art, Webster sketched throughout his life and while in the service of the Hudson’s Bay Company he compiled an album of some ninety three colour sketches depicting social life, activities, customs and dress in and around Hudson’s Bay Company posts, mainly around Stuart Lake and Fort McLeod during the period 1874 to 1880. Many of the sketches included First Nations and Metis people whose participation was critical to the Canadian fur trade. Several of Webster’s sketches were published in The Graphic magazine in England and provided British readers with images of frontier life in British Columbia and Alberta.

These and many others can be browsed in the Bullock Webster Sketches digital collection.

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