Archival Encounters Part II: Rare Books and Special Collections, University of British Columbia
Research Dossier: Mary Maillard
Gilean Douglas fonds, RBSC-ARC-1168
February 15, 2018
Gordon Hosken was one of Gilean Douglas’ many beaux 1925-26 (see correspondence Box 23) and he gave her this album of his World War I photos.
For the video below [pseudonym Amanda Weber] I have selected 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.
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.
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 in his parents’ memorial scrapbook). 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 in1938, 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
McLennan Family History & genealogy.
Hugh McClennan 1825-1899
WW1 deaths of Bart McClennan, Lt. Col. in 1918, and his cousin Hugh McClennan in 1915.
William Durie McClennan 1914-1915
File missing [discharge certificate?] on display
World War I British press photograph collection
RBSC-ARC-1636 February 16, 2018
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. These photographs are comprehensive in scope and would be ideal to use for a documenary. Every facet of civilian and military life appears to be covered for the war years and women are very much part of the coverage.
Women working in munitions factory.
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 complement an essay on prisoners of war on both sides, differences and similarities, textual accounts.
Women ambulance drivers.
World War 1 British Press Photographs Box 2
Folder 13 Envelope BC 1763-/503-516
King George V and Queen Mary greeting troops
photos on Western Front
Envelope BC 1763-/517-528
- Scene of hospital operations
- ruined church
- horses and troops trudging through the mud
- the Battle of Flanders, troops standing around
- trench scene
- Trench close-up
Battle of Flanders – crossing the Yser Canal
Battle of Flanders – “a Boche aeroplane brought down by our fire”
Uno Langman Family Collection of B.C. Photographs
UL 1001 Views in British Columbia
Frederick Dally’s stunning photographs document British Columbia less than ten years after the Cariboo gold rush, and follow the rough roads, trails, bridges and waterways leading from Burrard Inlet and New Westminster through Hope and the Fraser Valley, Clinton, Cache Creek, Williams Lake, Lac La Hache, Quesnel, and all the way through to Barkerville. The album records a path of utter destruction, the once-forested hillsides stripped bare and blasted, littered with rough mining shanty towns. Each image is sharp and focused yet broad in scope, allowing for great zooming without losing detail: women’s hooped skirts, men in their best and worst suits, Indigenous families in patched cotton, wool, fur, and skins. I viewed the actual album with another student but did not take photographs. These below are from the UBC open digitized collection.
UL 1184-1 [Kathleen Murray #1] born c. 1909
March 3, 2018
Black small album “Photographs” embossed in gold
Inscribed: Kay Murray 1321 – 19th Ave East, Vancouver, B.C. Kathleen Murray
- Aug 1923 – about 14, still a “girl,” with long braids, no fashionable bob
- Aug 1921 girls Toots and Kay
- with younger girl Jean [sister?]
- hollow tree Stanley Park
- *1924 hike around Stanley Park, Misses Bruce and Capell’s groups – CGIT?
- note sailor blouses & ties
- 1924 British Warship entering the harbour, the Repulse
- 1924 caption: “Brownie” – camera or Kay? she is in cardigan & below the knee skirt
- Dominion Day Parade 1924
- Grandparents, Grandma, cottage, deer, woodsy, cottage
- Burnaby farm 1925 – is this the grandparents?
- 1926 three sisters and a brother, all elderly – ?her grandmother, gr aunts and gr uncle?[Uncle Albert]
- Sunshine coast June 1927 [Botany class]
- 1927 White Rock rail station
- Ocean Park
- April 1928 Science Building UBC
- The UBC Library [barren land around]
- “Freshettes” at the UBC Library April 12 1928 [interesting, the language related to American freshmen]
- Lynn Valley
- trail, Seymour [river or mountain?]
- Kamloops 1928
- *Point Atkinson CGIT hike 1929
Kathleen Murray was a Canadian Girl in Training, in every sense.
The CGIT purpose from Wiki:
“The CGIT purpose is: As a Canadian Girl in Training, under the leadership of Jesus, it is my purpose to Cherish Health, Seek Truth, Know God, Serve Others and thus, with His help, become the girl God would have me be.”
UL 1046 Kathleen Murray #2
Photos mostly 1930-1931 including graduation from UBC
19th Ave 1929, 8th Ave 1916, Bowen Island 1930, Graduation pics 1930/31
Woodward’s Picnic Bowen Island 1930. Off the trail near UBC 1931
1931 Kits park, tennis, *M. K. Murray BA 1931 May 7 “Kay”
*Harrison Hot Springs 1931, Centre Bay, log booms tugs [?Gambier Island], Wigwam Inn [Indian Arm]
Album ends abruptly – with marriage?
Black album, raised print “Snap Shots,” album half empty [possibly Kathleen Murray, according to RBSC materials spreadsheet]
WW1, logging families, women’s fashion c. 1913, nurses ambulance, a narrow suspension bridge, trapper & furs, officer [what country], Geo Munn Hooper 5 years old, the Quay, Rostrevor[I don’t see how this connects with Kathleen Murray]
The Maclachlan Clan UL-1598
March 3, 2018
Scrap Book [1940s, cf. “Pa” 1941] appears to have been specially put together to mark the golden wedding anniversary of James and —- Maclachlan. Artistically arranged. The children each get a page: Hec, Norah, Tom.
“Christmas Day marked the golden wedding anniversary of Mr. James and Mrs. Maclachlan, 1042 East 11th. They were married in Edinburgh in 1885, came to Saskatoon in 1912, and to Vancouver in 1920.” Seven grandchildren. [How sad that no one wanted this album. James Sr. served in WW1 in Saskatoon regiment]
Family came from all over Canada:
Mrs. R. Wilson, Winnipeg; Hector Maclachlan, Saskatoon; James Maclachlan, Calgary; Mrs. H. Nelson, Alistair Maclachlan, Mrs. J. Carlisle, Norah Maclachlan, Robert Maclachlan [Edinburgh] [Tom not there, must be dead. He wrote the article from Australia in 1926.]
Tom “Scottie” Machlachlan article: racist “odiferous” section of Honolulu “Orientals” PHOTO
UL-1591 Ten Cycling trips, Box 2, the letters and postcards
March 5, 2018
Summer cycling tourists Clara [Mulie] and Katz send cheery postcards over a period of ten years addressed to their mother, Mrs. Clara Wilson, but with separate messages for their younger siblings and nieces and nephews. Everyone has a nickname, or several, and Clara and Kat use a lot of affectionate slang and baby talk. They share their annual cycling holiday with those who could not go.
Postcards as literary genre: constrained space, co-authored, semi-public, gift/souvenir during late Depression and war years, entertainment, news. Postcards were cheaper to mail than regular mail.
The Wilson girls’ trips through the Fraser Valley and into the Chilcotin and Cariboo follow the same route as Frederick Dally’s 1867 photographs (Uno Langmann Collection 1001 “Views in British Columbia”). I imagine a side-by-side exhibition of photographs of these towns, approximately 80 years apart: 1867, 194?, and now.
Heading for Spuzzum!
Gilean Douglas fonds
1923-1924 Road Trip Albums: Gilean Douglas
RBSC-ARC-1168, Road Trip album #2
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 Americans re-enacting pioneer life much the way they do today in Colonial Williamsburg and Civil War re-enactments.
One month later, still on his train tour, President Warren Harding died suddenly in a San Francisco hotel from congestive heart failure. Gilean Douglas’ photographs may have been more meaningful to her because of this event BUT I wonder why she wouldn’t have mentioned it in her captions?
More photos not uploaded.
“Slim” Cecil Rhodes Douglas, the husband — what is the story on his name? Why did he take hers? Did he take on “Cecil Rhodes” too? the 4 husbands? Her thyroid condition that caused the seven-month-long hospitalization in 1924 and was an issue throughout her life? I am seriously wondering if she was bipolar — there is definitely a medical connection between hyperthyroidism and bipolar disorder. I’m just looking at the huge amount of energy that went into these road trips. Very few pictures of herself.
Douglas includes a handwritten sheet of the states she visited. Notes in parentheses on (food) for an article?
Gilean Douglas fonds, RBSC-ARC-1168, Road Trip Album #3
March 6, 2018
The American South: Florida to California
Gilean Douglas travelled through Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, capturing with her camera landscapes, agriculture, monuments, homes, hospitals, and “Just Folks” she met along the way. She lays out her photos with journalistic flair and the effect has a Life magazine quality.
Later, I read parts of her biography by Andrea Lebowitz and Gillian Milton, and learned that the album itinerary is the reverse of her actual trip which started in California, proceeded through the South with a prolonged hospital stay in New Orleans, and ended in Florida, where her marriage also ended.
I can’t help but see this album in a psychological light. Abandoned by “Slim” — sick, and alone in Florida — she recreates her travelogue and takes the viewer westward and herself backward to the point in California where she and Slim were happier, healthier, and full of enthusiasm for the adventures that awaited them.
Questions: What are our assumptions about a personal photo album? That it represents a coherent chronology? Meaningful placement of photos on the page? Accurate commentary? The creator’s esthetics? The practicalities of placing and grouping odd-sized photos? The scrapbook implications of a photo album? When/how/why should we consider commentary as part of the photographic presentation and when do we consider it separately? Should we consider the difference between what the camera operators think they are capturing and what the viewer sees?
Douglas inserted a pair of incongruous photos into the Arizona section of her road trip: photographs she had taken of Constable Thomas Henry Tredgold, in either Toronto or Niagara Falls, 1921-1923. [I am assuming that Tredgold did not follow Gilean and Slim all the way to Arizona in 1924 in RCMP uniform and then hustle back to Quebec to get the boat to Baffin Island.] Between the photos she placed one of herself in Arizona (looking like a Mountie) and holding a huge dead snake. Her high-necked shirt may be concealing her goiter or the swelling effects of her hyperthyroidism; her face seems to be swollen around the jawline. At this time in her life Gilean Douglas asked her closer friends, like Tredgold and Slim, to call her “Bobs.”
This juxtaposition of images (above) begs for psychoanalysis.
The negatives of the photographs Douglas took on her road trips are contained in sleeves inside an Eastman Negative Album. On the lower left hand corner of the Eastman album Douglas wrote in pencil “2 Treddie” to indicate that she had removed the two photographs of Thomas Tredgold that she had numbered #40 and #42 in her index.
This negative album and the pencilled marking “Treddie” are the only evidence so far that Tredgold was known as “Treddie.”
Freddie’s Pix Album
Gilean Douglas fonds, RBSC-ARC-1168
February 19-21, 2018
The question of who is the Freddie of “Freddie’s Pix” in the Gilean Douglas finding aid has now become the question, who is “Treddie” Tredgold? Who is Mac? Why are their photos in the same album? Did Gilean Douglas place the photos in the album? Did Treddie and Mac know each other? Maybe Gilean Douglas [or someone] didn’t want to waste empty album page space? This album is not arranged and annotated in the artistic way that Douglas’ road trip albums are: does that suggest she did NOT place the photos in the album or does that just mean that, because it was not her experience, she didn’t embellish the album the way she would with her own record?
There is no mention of Tredgold by name on the photos or anywhere in this album.
Cutting meat for the dogs.
I am struck by the landscapes, the stunning desolation of Baffin Island, the “first contact” feel of the images, even though this is the 20th century. It wasn’t until my third pass through that I realized there was writing on the back of the photos — not that helpful at first in figuring out the who/where/why/when. The killed walrus, polar bear, whales — trophy killing, safari-style? or do they need these animals for food? The scene of the sea FILLED with belugas was shocking to me when I found out through other research (Anthony Dalton’s biography of ornithologist J. Dewey Soper) that they were dead and dying.
What is Tredgold’s relationship with the Inuit people he has photographed?
The photograph below looks as if it were a Dominion Day celebration but it is not. This photograph shows an Inuk witness being cross-examined in the Robert Janes murder trial in Ponds Inlet in 1923 in front of eleven white men. I had to figure this scene out from other sources [Hardy-Vallee, Shelagh Grant].
More photos, questions, notes, transferred to research folders — this might be my term paper. I would like to try to shift the focus from white European conquest narrative to traditional Inuit culture using “radical empathy” as my theoretical framework. Ordered related photos from Library Archives Canada, March 2 [no reply by March 26]. On March 5, LAC sent me six letters, written from Thomas Tredgold to Mrs. Stewart in Toronto —- signed —- TREDDIE.
March 16, 2018 -I counted the photos in Treddie’s Pix album: 93
March 17, 2018 – Gilean Douglas fonds, RBSC-ARC-1168, Box 23, Folder 14
There are correspondence files in this box for Gilean Douglas’ 16 “boyfriends” 1925-1929, including Tredgold’s correspondence to Gilean Douglas 1927-28 & 1937. More confusion re: Freddie/Treddie. He has signed his letters “Treddie” but an unknown person (not Douglas, probably her executor during preprocessing of the collection) has written “Freddie” in pencil on the upper left first page of each letter. To complicate matters further, Tredgold sent a number of telegrams to Douglas in 1927. All but one are signed “Treddie,” and that one is signed “Freddie.” Obviously the telegraph operator had the same problem with Tredgold’s “T” that her executor did.
When he returned from the Arctic in the fall of 1927 Tredgold came down from Ottawa to Toronto to visit Gilean Douglas and left his new camera (that he hadn’t had much of a chance to try out) in the back seat of Douglas’ car. Photography was one of their shared interests. He asked her to send it back numerous times and, finally, in late February, 1928, she sent it to him while he was recuperating from a long stay in hospital after an appendix operation. Their correspondence ended abruptly in July 1928.
Also, in the fall of 1927 Tredgold took a train to Banff and visited his aunt in Calgary where they celebrated his birthday [Oct]. He wrote Gilean that this was the first time the occasion had been noticed in twenty years. Counting back, I realized that he last celebrated his birthday (turned 13-years-old) in 1907 — and that this was the last year that his parents were alive. Sad, so sad.
March 21, 2018
Today I emailed the University of Alberta Archives with a question about access to J. Dewey Soper fonds photograph album 79-21-33 (1924-1926) (545 photographs). The online link to digitized images from that album no longer works. I expect a number of these photographs to be Tredgold’s, hopefully with his signature “THS” in white, and others to be duplicates that both Soper and Tredgold owned. Determining how many of Tredgold’s photographs have been duplicated in other collections would help me to establish the relative importance of the RBSC Tredgold photos. I got an unsatisfactory answer back from Jaclyn Kuklach:
I also contacted the Yellowknife Museum Society fonds re: their collection N-1979-006 which appears to document the same people and places at the same time as Tredgold’s photographs taken on his 1926 and 1927 patrols. No photographer is named but, considering that Tredgold died unmarried in Yellowknife in 1940, it makes sense to me that his photographs could have found their way into this museum. Robin Weber responded that this is an artificial collection made up from multiple sources. The three photographs I am interested in are not scanned and it will be a big production to get images. After looking at the catalogue descriptions and some other scans, I think this is not such a promising lead.
Curiouser and curiouser. The RBSC preliminary inventory for the photographs in the Gilean Douglas fonds mentions 121 prints but there are only 93 prints in the Treddie’s Pix album. I emailed Chelsea about the discrepancy and asked if there were some loose photographs somewhere. It turns out there are 121 “badly curled” extra prints awaiting conservation treatment!!! I asked to see them and easily photographed most of the images [using lead snakes]. They are not so badly curled and could be easily scanned. The photos are contained in two original photo finisher envelopes marked by Douglas as “Treddie’s prints.” The first envelope contains 59 photographs from 1925 and so are very important documentation of Tredgold’s and Dewey Soper’s Eastern Arctic Expedition to Nettilling Lake in 1925.
Together, the 121 envelope prints and the 93 album prints [some duplicates], make a large and important contribution to early Canadian government history in the Arctic. Soper took 545 photographs but many of those images would have been pictures of the specimens of flora and fauna that he collected for the National Museum of Canada.
The second envelope of 62 photographs contains a mix of summer 1926 and 1927 photographs with a few duplicates from the Treddie’s Pix album thrown in. In the summer of 1927 Tredgold photographed “Dr. Banting and Mr. Jackson (artist).” That would be Group of Seven artist A.Y. Jackson!
Truth and Reonciliation Commission
March 10-11, 2018
Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair
Volume One: Summary
“For over a century, the central goals of Canada’s Aboriginal policy were to eliminate Aboriginal governments; ignore Aboriginal rights; terminate the Treaties; and, through a process of assimilation, cause aboriginal peoples to cease to exist as distinct legal, social, cultural, religious, and racial entities in Canada. The establishment and operation of residential schools were a central element of this policy, which can be described as “cultural genocide” (1).
Reverend Alfred James Hall (left) in Alert Bay, B.C., with mission school students in 1885. Mrs. Hall on right. Photo: George M. Dawson, reproduced on p. 2 of Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Volume One: Summary.
Because my family settled at the head of Knight Inlet in the early 1890s, I have a close personal connection to the 1885 photograph of the Alert Bay mission school that appears (above) on p. 2 of the TRC Summary. My grandmother, Mary Jane Ward (1880-1986), was a residential student at that mission school in the mid 1890s and the only non-indigenous student. She and a half dozen other girls lived in the mission house with Rev. and Mrs. Hall where they received religious instruction and were taught the domestic arts: cooking, cleaning, sewing. The boys lived in another building (St. Michael’s Residential School was not built until 1929). My grandmother learned to speak Kwakwala and, at one point, ran away from the mission school with local Indigenous fishermen.
My grandmother never had a bad word to say about anybody, but she did complain that Rev. and Mrs. Hall were too strict and that it was not fair that they got to eat roast beef while the girls had to get their supper from the beach. She also said that Mrs. Hall was the source of the stash of empty gin bottles behind the mission house. When my grandmother’s fifteen year-old sister Eleanor died of TB in 1897, her father rowed her body the eighty miles to Alert Bay where she was the second person to be buried in the church cemetery (and the first white person). My grandmother remembered walking along the boardwalk and seeing the burial boxes in the trees above her. In 1896, my grandmother was confirmed in the Alert Bay Anglican church by the Bishop (parish records at U’Mista Cutural Centre, Alert Bay). We are not sure whether she ran away from the school before or after the confirmation.
“Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future”
CBC Nov 30 2017, “Lesser Legal Rights”
Federal government withholding evidence of abuse in residential schools, cover-up, and denial of compensation to survivors [electric chair St. Anne’s]
“Because the Indian residential school settlement agreement makes no mention of procedural fairness, it doesn’t exist in IAP hearings, federal lawyers argue.”
94 Calls to action:
Over-representation of indigenous people in prisons
RCMP, BC, complicity in government cover-up, p. 165, TRC Summary
Monitoring calls to actions
Ian Mosby Oct 2017 7 calls to action complete, 87 not complete
2013 Ian Mosby published his findings on government nutritional experiments on Indigenous children
TRC “The Survivors Speak”
Jorge Barrera, APTN, June 23, 2017, “Liberals take Human Rights Tribunal to Court,” Jordan’s principal cases should be processed in 48 hours, girls’ suicides in Wapekeka
June 2017 “The Human Rights Tribunal ruled last year that Ottawa discriminated against First Nation children by underfunding child welfare services on reserve and by failing to provide health care services on par with the rest of the country.”
Colonialism denial, Chelsea Vowel, 2013 (âpihtawikosisân)
60s scoop denial, Chelsea Vowel, 2017
March 5, 2018, Toronto Star, op-ed, Lynn Beyak, racist letters
Coerced and forced sterilizations
Sterilization, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Feb 28, 2018, APTN
Coerced and forced sterilization, CBC, 2017 (re: 1990s)
Coerced sterilization (2001) lawsuit, CBC, Oct 2017
Forced sterilizations as part of genocide: //intercontinentalcry.org/canadas-coerced-sterilization-of-first-nations-women/
The first high dose birth control pill was being prescribed in indigenous communities, 1964-1965 at least, before contraceptives were legalized for these purposes – in 1969 – with the intent to reduce the birth rate, and to “reduce the size of the homes the federal government would need to provide.”
Toni Onley (1928-2004)
March 7, 2018
Promotional materials, invitation cards, for exhibitions, shows, openings, 1988-1998 Victoria, Toronto, Saskatoon,
“The Travels of Toni Onley”
Beautiful reproductions of his art on the promotional materials
Gallery Mira Godard, Equinox (Van)
Photograph of Toni Onley on the cover of a photocopied book manuscript.
PHOTO Transport Canada Aviation Notice questionnaire filled out by Toni Onley in 2000. He says pilots in the air around Boundary Bay are “older and experienced.” He tells them he has a hangar in Delta (I was in that hangar in 2000 and saw his plane because my friends shared the space with him).
PHOTO piece of collage art by his daughter Lynn Onley, eastern Kama Sutra style theme.
Box 36-1 1997-2000
PHOTO 1997 letter to him that mentions “aircraft problem.”
PHOTO Matthew Baird of the CBC writes a note re: his grandmother Kate Baird. Onley knew Kate Baird in the early 1950s and said that she was a geat help to him after his wife Mary died in 1955. Onley’s response re: how hard it was to raise 2 children after her death. That’s when he moved out west.
His mother died 1999 – [she must have been old because Onley would have been over 70]
George Woodcock was a good friend and they collaborated together on a book for Canada India Village Aid
Letter from my old friend Genise to Toni — re: CIVA. She hopes he is having a good time flying.
He gives his artwork for charity auctions, like CIVA, CNIB, and this creates a lot of correspondence.
Daughter Lynn Onley’s handmade card thanking him for the good genes and having faith in her. Enclosed photograph of her doing her art, with a painting of a vase and plant behind her. I think she looks like him.
Watercolour card [c.2000] from Lynn using salt in the paint, a technique she learned in an art class. She is 47.
I realize now that I seem to be focusing on his plane and his daughter, Lynn. If this were 50 years later I might be interested in looking more into his biography, particularly how the double tragedies of his wife’s and daughter’s deaths affected him. His daughter, Jennifer, was my age but a year behind, in my sister’s class, at Pauline Johnson Elementary School in West Van about 1961-1963. All I remember is her red hair and glasses and that her mother was dead. We heard that Jennifer died at 13 in a car accident in the summer [ 64?] but no one ever really knew what happened because there was no family or friends to ask. She just disappeared.
March 8, 2018[Finally just found info on him in his autobiography Flying Colours (Sono Nis, 2002), 189-192.] Good Lord!! Jennifer’s mother, Mary, dropped dead at work at the age of 23. Mary’s father went to the police accusing Onley of poisoning her (she had had an affair after being neglected by Onley). Onley couldn’t really deal with the two young children (2 and 4) and moved out west and left them with his parents (father an actor). It seems as though he never took to Jennifer, left her behind, and took Lynn as a five-year-old to live in Mexico. Later, in 1961, he remarried and lived with his new wife, Gloria, in an apartment in the West End and put the kids in boarding school in Vancouver — same city!!!. The kids visited on weekends. When they moved to West Van, the girls were basically latch-key kids. Then he dumped them on his parents again (in the Interior). But the grandparents didn’t want Jennifer anymore when she hit her teens because she wore make-up and had a beehive hair-do. She was sent to another boarding school in Ontario while Toni and his wife lived in England. The woman who looked after Jennifer was also killed in the crash.
So, out of the four of them in the original family, three died of unnatural causes.
Onley’s travel diaries are works of art in themselves with beautifully rendered watercolours accompanied by his travel writing. For all three artists studied in this section — Onley, Shadbolt, Biller — text and visual art go hand in hand.
A page from Toni Onley’s Japan Travel Diary. RBSC, University of British Columbia.
On the journal page below, Onley writes, “I am having these terrible dreams lately. Last night I dream’t that I had shaved off my beard …. Recently I dream’t of the four D’s of the apocalypse, Deception, Divorce, Depression, and death. But all that is behind me except for death. I have every reason to be happy and proud.”
Toni Onley’s journal entry, January 14, 1999, Toni Onley Collection, RBSC, University of British Columbia.
Olive Allen Biller (1879-1957)
March 9, 2018
As an adolescent artist and future book illustrator, Olive Allen Biller, along with contributing members of her large family, created the Trebarfoot Diaries to document their summers in Cornwall, to entertain themselves, and to express their many talents. They were extremely creative: they drew, painted, acted, photographed, wrote plays, poetry and novels, and seemed to have a lot of fun while they were doing it. They were witty and well-read. Olive’s hand sewn books, filled with watercolours, photographs, and wonderful graphics, are probably my favourite objects in the whole course. Some of her art looks like “arts and crafts” style (fairies and flowers in lovely colours), some of it looks like a contemporary graphic novel, some are Gothic (with an anachronistic hint of Gorey), and some remind me of Strewwelpeter. These diaries are gorgeous works of art and should be published exactly as they are, handsewn, handpainted, and all!
The Trebarfoot Diaries contain numerous “menus” that mimic and parody the aristocatic dinners they might have heard about from friends and family, replete with faux-French names and faux-alcoholic beverages. Translated, these menus are probably what they actually did eat. One very funny menu (in Box 2, artwork) depicts a lady sitting on the stairs in front of a house next to #5 Downing Street. She is chained to the stair railing, with one foot resting on linked sausages, and the other near a poster lying on the ground that reads “Vegetarian.” The menu, taking up the right quadrant of the drawing, is completely filled with meat and fish dishes. Parodying suffragettes, a protest against vegetarian food or for it? Maybe the Allens were given egg salad sandwiches for lunch?
1.1 Trebarfoot Vol. 1 (1890-1894) Cornwall, [mock?] family chart of Treberfoot family.
1.2 Trebarfoot Vol. 2 (1895-1898) Diary hand-sewn binding
1.3 Treberfoot Vol. 4 (1901-1904) “The Three Bears Feet” faux coat of arms.
Try writing a 500 word novel!
My camera died! Must go back and photograph:
- fabulous watercolour “Meditation”
- Sonnet “Aspiration” —— Dante Gabriel Rosetti
- Whist A Pantoum
- “The Curse of the Pellows” — gothic
- “Death or Victory: A Tract on Drunkenness” – illustration also looks like Strewwelpeter, cautionary tale
- funny photographs – group of young men, sewing, titled “The Ladies”
- group of young women, smoking, titled “The Gentlemen”
- photograph of young women, long hair, medieval robes, Boticellan, pre-Raphaelite, beautifully lit
250 word novels, poetry, photographs, drawings
1.4 & 1.5 2 pocket diaries – tiny writing
1.6 Italy Journal (1904)
1.7 The Little Female Academy – hand drawn “Written and illustrated by Olive Allen”
- photograph 9 teens in costume, dramatization of the work
- pen & ink drawing “Peter Grief” reminds me of Edward Gorey and also Strewwelpeter
1.8 Auntie McAssar
persons of the play
Leather cover, gold embossed “The North Hall, Launceston”[misfiling? there was a cover sheet for Auntie McAssar in ‘The Little Female Academy” above]
1.9 Diary 1930-1934
March 16, 2018
Viewed Box 2 of Biller’s larger artwork. !!!!!!!!!
Biller’s daughter reported her saying that she was not much influenced by the Pre Raphaelites. Maybe so, as an adult. But she is steeped in the style in Vol. 4 of the Trebarfoot Diaries.
Some of the Pre Raphaelite references are tongue-in-cheek.
Some of Biller’s work is influenced by Beardsley.
A hint of Strewwelpeter.
Jack Shadbolt 1909-1998
March 10, 2018
Box 48-1 sketchbooks, as a form of note-taking. Colliome beach 1960, boats, docks, lobster cage? pencil, names of colours to be applied later [we get to see part of his creative process]
Box 48-2 sketchbooks, Edmonton mural flight notes, centennial poster
Aquerelle Sketchbook – demonstration drawings, black & white watercolours [in the style of Miro]
Large sketchbook – Italian scenes
c.2 Hornby Island Journal begins May 27, 1989 [80 years old]
“Don’t poke and prod, Death. Just take it easy. All in good time.”
Shadbolt records his depression – he is trying to paint, can’t concentrate. His life is all about art, making art, nothing else has meaning for him. These journals are completely, obsessively, about him, his ideas, and art. He is the The Great Man Having Great Thoughts. I really couldn’t stick this writing out (in my present frame of mind) but, to be fair to him, he was a man of his time and this is the type of philosophiizing that was expected of a “great artist” in the 50s and 60s. He IS an absolutely phenomenal artist. If I had been recently steeped in the fiction, philosophy, and abstract ideas of twentieth century intellectual culture I might have been more captivated. Shadbolt’s everyday reading reflects his wide literary interests and capacity to engage with complex ideas. His journals reiterate his deeply held belief that life and art are one and the same — and for him, the writing life is linked to his living and art.
I photographed this journal all the way to the end (solid block writing, no paragraphs) where he says he is writing too much instead of creating art. He ends with: “It occurred to me this morning while I was shaving that I have recently tended to concentrate more on what I am saying rather than what I am expressing — a tendancy I must rectify.” Yes. Interesting coincidence that both Shadbolt and Onley seem to associate thoughts of death with shaving.
Hornby Island Journal April 10, 1979, inside front cover, “Reward for return”
Poetry quotes: George Bradley, “Dusk,” New Yorker, Patrick White,
from a review of Celan by George Steiner.
“the photgraph is literally the emanation of a referent, ” Barthes.
April 29, 86
“This recent exhibit at U.B.C. dealing with my relation to the Coast Indian mythology following the one at the Peterborough Art Gallery last year……….has led me to consider the role of curators in relation to the artist –-”
hand copied Lorca poem “Seven Preludes to Silence”
Quotes from:Peter Ludwig, Duchamp, Calvin Tomkins, Iris Murdoch in The Sea, The Sea, Graham Sutherland, Barthes
“Reminiscence” Oct 27 1985, autobiography, much philosophizing
c.8 1965-Oct 15 1979
c.9 Paris –  June ’39, Aug 39
I am ending this research blog with an image of Jack Shadbolt’s “Elegy for an Island,” 1985. His work is brilliant and true, and this piece in particular captures so much of the British Columbia culture and history we have discovered in these archival encounters.