Archival Encounters II

Rare Books and Special Collections, University of British Columbia


Gordon Hosken Album WW1— Photo Album                             

I have selected in my video [pseudonym Amanda Weber] the popular music “Keep the Home Fires Burning” (1915) to reflect the youth, innocence, home-sickness,and patriotic fever of the early years of WWI. Hosken’s photograph of prototype “pin-ups” in the barracks was a surprising detail of camp life.

Video here


From the Gordon Hosken album in the Gilean Douglas Fonds, Rare Books and Special Collections, University of British Columbia.

Dorothy Gretchen Steeves Fonds 

RBSC-ARC-1531 Box 12 February 16, 2018

Rufus Palmer Steeves (1892-1960), Dorothy “Gretchen” Steeves’ future husband, was a Canadian military officer and German Prisoner of War during WW1 who was given parole in Holland. Photos of theatre life, postcards, German money, and what looks like a gentleman’s life-style show that, as an officer on parole, Rufus Steeves did not suffer as a POW. He met and married Gretchen Biersteker in The Hague and they moved to Vancouver in January 1919.

The winding route of a postcard mailed to Rufus Steeves while he was a prisoner of war in Holland during WWI.

Rufus Steeves gives his “word of honour” to not attempt an escape in this German parole pass, dated September 14, 1917.

Rufus Steeves’ postcards of the “American Bar” and dining room of the “Pavilion Riche”, Scheveningen, The Hague, Netherlands.

Rufus Steeves and fellow prisoners of war, date unknown.


Gretchen and Rufus Steeves’ only child, Hugh Douglas Steeves (1920-1943), was a WWII RCAF pilot who was killed flying on a mission from England to France. He flew blind into heavy cloud and probably hit trees during his ascent (letter of condolence from a fellow soldier). The Steeves’ scrapbook contains the letter his father wrote to him just 6 days before he died. Hugh Steeves graduated from Lord Byng High School in Vancouver the same year as my aunt. My mother, also at Byng, was two years younger and would also have known him. There is a photo in the scrapbook of Hugh Steeves that Rufus developed from film found in his camera after his death. The father was about to send a parcel with cake (for his birthday) and more FILM! Hugh Steeves was buried in England and the scrapbook contains numerous snapshots of his grave (a cross).

Biographical information: Brian T. Thom, From Left to Right: Maternnalism and Womens Political Activism in Post-War Canada (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2016), 37-39.


McLennan Family Fonds

RBSC-ARC-1717  February 16, 2018

Box 1

McLennan Family History & genealogy.

Hugh McClennan 1825-1899

WW1 deaths of Bart McClennan, Lt. Col. in 1918, and his cousin Hugh McClennan in 1915.

Box 11

William Durie McClennan 1914-1915

File missing [discharge certificate?] on display

Camp menu

Camp diary


World War I British press photograph collection

RBSC-ARC-1636 February 16, 2018



Box 1

Folder 3

Working women meet King George V.


Women in coal masks

Women in chemical works Manchester

King George at train station meeting train wounded soldier

I photographed many more PHOTOS from this folder of women working in every industry: factories, coal mines, carpentry shops, chemical works, munitions, every possible job that the men used to do. The British Press photographs are superb but, because these are glossy prints, they create reflections and other distortions when photographed in the reading room. Question: Are there negatives to this collection? Can these photographs be scanned? These photographs are  comprehensive in scope and would be ideal to use for a documenary of stills. Every facet of civilian and military life appears to be covered for the war years and women are very much part of the coverage.

Folder 4

Women working in munitions factory.

Folder 8

Ruins [ statue woman]

Folder 9

German prisoners helping to bring in Allied wounded.


German officers captured and sitting on the ground.

German prisoners on the ground.


German prisoner of war, WWI British Press Photographs, Rare Books and Special Collections, University of British Columbia.

WAACs serving food.

The German prisoners of war photos, and Rufus Steeves’ photos from when he was a prisoner of war in Holland would nicely a complement an essay on prisoners of war on both sides, differences and similarities, textual accounts.


Folder 11

Women ambulance drivers.

Hospital scenes.





Gilean Douglas Fonds

Freddie’s Pix: Baffin Island 1923-1925                                  

“Freddie’s Pix” album from the Gilean Douglas Fonds, Rare Books and Special Collections, University of British Columbia.

The finding aid to the “Freddie’s Pix” Album [#13] in the Gilean Douglas Fonds notes “a group of labelled photographs of Baffin Island, Pangirtung, etc. taken in 1926/27 by an RCMP officer.” That officer, Constable Thomas Henry Tredgold, served the RCMP on South-Central Baffin Island from 1923 until 1938. On October 1, 1940, while fishing in fast water on the Yellowknife River, Tredgold drowned when his canoe tipped over. He was 45 years old.

The RCMP motorboat Lady Borden carried Constable Tredgold and ornithologist Dewey Soper on collecting expeditions near Pangnirtung settlement.

The Baffin Island photographs in this album are labelled with commentary on the verso side. It is too easy when viewing this album to miss the documentary significance of Tredgold’s photography. His snapshots, although not examples of professional artistry, capture traditional Inuit hunting and whaling culture nearly a hundred years ago as it existed under what is now known as the contact-traditional era, 1921-1962. The Hudson Bay Company created the hamlet of Pangnirtung in Cumberland Sound when they established a post there in 1921. The RCMP followed with a detachment in 1923, and within a few years an Anglican mission and a government hospital were built.

Some of the photographs may document Tredgold’s 2070 kilometre dog team patrol from Pangnirtung to Lake Harbour and back during February and March, 1926.

Ornitholgist J. Dewey Soper (left) and Thomas “Freddie” Tredgold standing by their cairn, dated 1925. Rare Books and Special Collections, University of British Columbia.

A mysterious ocean image of what looks like large blocks of floating ice, followed by a closer-range photograph of hundreds of swimming white beluga whales, reveals the traditional Inuit practice of capturing whales by blocking their access to the sea with boats and then waiting for the tide to go out; the whales would be beached and then shot. A photograph of the Hudson Bay Company ship Ungava aground beside piles of dead whales suggests that it was taken when Tredgold accompanied ornithologist J. Dewey Soper on one of his 1920s Arctic expeditions. Soper and Tredgold’s 1925 Nettilling Lake expedition is confirmed by the album’s photograph of Tredgod and Soper standing by the stone cairn they had built to “mark our farthest West across Baffin Island.”

Thomas Tredgold and ornithologist/explorer J. Dewey Soper pose on board the CGS Arctic in 1924. Rare Books and Special Collections, University of British Columbia. This same photograph appears in the J. Dewey Soper fonds at the University of Aberta Archives, Edmonton, AB.

I selected images from this album and combined them with traditional Inuit chants adapted by Canadian composer Stephen Hatfield. The resut is a 7 minute video posted under the pseudonym Amanda Weber. I hope that this creative mix will evoke a sense of a different time and place other than that of looking at an old album in the RBSC reading room at UBC.

When using archival materials in a creative way there are ethical concerns, in this case, the possible reinforcement of the creator’s “explorer” perspective, or, conversely, cultural appropriation. My intent in the video project was to bring the photographs to a new audience and to amplify and not “talk over” Inuit culture. I was not unbiased in the image selection process. I purposefully omitted some pictures of Tredgold and his white companions in order to further draw out facets of Inuit culture. I have also purposefully avoided interpretive captioning.

Background sources:

Biographical information on Thomas Henry Tredgold from William J. Hulgaard and John W. White, Honoured in Places: Remembered Mounties Across Canada (Heritage House, 2002), 170; the Thomas Henry Tredgold Fonds, Library and Archives Canada.

The route and details of Tredgold’s expeditionary trips (1923, 1924,1925) with Dewey Soper–as documented in the “Fredie’s Pix” album–can be found in Anthony Dalton’s narrative biography, Arctic Naturalist: The Life of J. Dewey Soper (Dundern: 2010), 188-153. The names of some of the Inuit members of Dewey’s expeditions are included here. Duplicates of some of the photographs in the “Freddie’s Pix” album [such as the one of Tredgold and Soper in furs on the Arctic] might be found in the J. Dewey Soper fonds, University of Alberta Archives, Edmonton, AB, and also at Library and Archives Canada.

Qikiqtani Inuit Association, Pangnirtung: Qikiqtani Truth Commission: Community Histories 1950-1975, 2014.

Shelagh D. Grant, Arctic Justice: On Trial for Murder, Pond Inlet, 1923 (McGill-Queens, 2002).

Questions: How did Gilean Douglas come to acquire Freddie’s photos? Did she know him? Were the photos loose? Is that why they are in an album that also includes the 1919 “Around the World in a Freighter” photos of “Mac”? Thomas Tredgold may have been conflated by archivists with his brother Frederick Tredgold b. 1891, a horse breeder who immigrated to Ottawa in 1924 to join the NWMP. Perhaps, after Thomas Tredgold’s death in 1940 at the age of 45, his brother Frederick acquired the photos? Douglas also has the negatives with date 1924 (negatives book 8, RBSC, finding aid). Could she have purchased these for research use? Why do Pangnirtung Truth Commission respondents not have anything to say about Tredgold’s years? They have negative things to say about RCMP officer Johnson in the 1950s but there is amost complete silence about the contact-tradition era.

Do Library and Archives Canada and U of A know about this photo collection? Rather than  repeat the narrative of the expeditions from another (but extremely fragmented ) documentary record, maybe I could higlight the commentary on the back of the photos to his brother, and compare it to the commentary at LAC? Offset my video of photos documenting Inuit culture with an analysis of Tredgold’s racist insensitivity? In other words, present TWO documentary records, two creators, the camera being one and Tredgold as explainer being another?

[I cropped the RBSC tag from the photos above as prep for video]


1923 Road Trip Album

On the Old Oregon Trail

Gilean Douglas’s commentary in her album reveals unquestioning contemporary views of American history and empire, and issues of race that are unresolved today. Her Oregon coverage of U.S. President Warren Harding’s Presidential Train Tour shows us Americans re-enacting pioneer life much as they do today in Colonial Williamsburg and Civil War re-enactments.

“On the Old Oregon Trail: The Road Which Saved an Empire.” Gilean Douglas Fonds, University of British Columbia.

One month later, still on his train tour, President Warren Harding died suddenly in a San Francisco hotel from congestive heart failure.

“President and Mrs. Harding listening to speeches by Chiefs and Medicine Men, asking for redress of certain wrongs.”

“On the cobble-stoned waterfront of the Old Mississippi River, St. Louis, where darkies lounge and sing…..”

“Way downSouth in the land of cotton….”



More photos not uploaded. Douglas includes a handwritten sheet of the states she visited.