Explore featured selections from the collection that tell compelling stories of Canada’s past.
Early B.C. History
Materials in the collection related to early B.C. history include rare editions of the narratives of many Pacific voyages of discovery by European explorers, such as Valdes, Galiano, Malaspina, Cook, and Vancouver. The exhibition also features charts recording the exploration of the Pacific Northwest.Learn more...
Case 3, Item 2 (CC-AR-00630)
Nine years after the California Gold Rush, gold was found at Boston Bar in the Fraser River. This gold pan was used in British Columbia around 1900 and is shown with gold flakes riding on a trail of black sand or magnetite and gold quartz nuggets from the Fraser River.
Diary of Hector Langevin
Case 6, Item 4 (CC-TX-279-27)
In 1871, Minister of Public Works of Canada Hector Langevin was sent by the Federal Cabinet to B.C. to learn about the new province and propose a site for the terminus for the Canadian Pacific Railway. Langevin’s diary documents how he came to recommend Vancouver as the site for the railway terminus.
Canadian Pacific Railway Company
Documents, maps, and publications explore how the Canadian Pacific Railway was built and how Vancouver was chosen as the western terminus.
The exhibition also features photographs and accounts of the railway’s construction, along with vibrant posters promoting travel and tourism via C.P.R. trains and steamships. Beautiful examples of cruise ship memorabilia provide a glimpse of the style of the times.
No. 9 Canadian Pacific Railway drawing
Case 7, Item 10 (CC-OS-00373)
A technical drawing from February 1882 of a section of tunnel proposed for construction of the railway between Emory’s Bar and Port Moody, signed by Charles Tupper, Minister of Railways and Canals, F. Braun, Secretary, and A. P. Bradley.
Empress of Japan
Case 15, Item 3 (CC-TX-283-25)
The first Empress of Japan was decommissioned in 1926 and scrapped in Burrard Inlet. Pieces were thrown overboard and many were later collected by locals. The launch of the second Empress of Japan was celebrated with this brochure, depicting the ship’s first class rooms with art deco elegance.
Immigration and Settlement
Chinese-Canadian cultural, social, and economic life is displayed through archival documents, photographs, artifacts, and more. The collections also includes materials related to the Fraser River gold rush that sparked Chinese immigration to British Columbia, as well as books and government documents relating to immigration restrictions. The exhibition also highlights promotional brochures and posters encouraging European immigration to Western Canada and archival materials from the Clandonald colony in Alberta, a community of immigrants from the Scottish Hebrides.Learn more...
Head Tax certificate
Case 4.1, Item 1 (CC-TX-279-1)
Head tax certificates were required by Chinese Canadians to prove they had paid the government-enforced head tax, or in some cases to prove they were exempt. The Canadian government has since apologized for the racist policy, but head tax certificates remain a powerful symbol of the struggles of Chinese Canadians.
Yip Family collage
Case 8, Item 5 (CC-PH-10673)
Yip Sang was the most successful Chinese business person of his time in Vancouver and the “unofficial mayor” of Chinatown. This family photograph collage was prepared in celebration of Yip Sang’s eightieth birthday in 1925. The photographs are arranged in the shape of the traditional Chinese character meaning “longevity”.