Oak Bay Archives works to digitize more than 1,000 film and glass negatives (Discovery Island in this glass negative) of former Oak Bay photographer Bertram Howell. (Christine van Reeuwyk/Oak Bay News)

Oak Bay celebrates heritage with archive finds and walking tours

Event runs Feb. 20 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at municipal hall

Inspired by the youth of the community, Oak Bay Archives and Oak Bay Heritage offer a day of history next week.

Oak Bay Celebrates Heritage Week with a day of exploring history, Feb. 20 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Oak Bay municipal hall.

The day evolved from École Willows elementary programs, where volunteers at the archives pulled fascinating, and rarely seen items from storage to share with visiting classes.

“It gives us a chance to get all this wonderful stuff for them to explore,” says Caroline Duncan, Oak Bay archivist.

Residents can see recently donated items, and those dug out of storage, records such as the first council minutes, perhaps a page or two from decades old police blotter. A newly donated album features photos of the 1938 ribbon cutting ceremony for the fire hall on Monterey Avenue.

Another recent acquisition, that the archivist has barely had an opportunity to dip into, features more than 1,000 film and glass negatives from a prolific Oak Bay photographer.

“Nobody has seen these,” Duncan said. The well-labeled files of Bertram Howell, a photographer who lived on a street where the Oak Bay Recreation Centre now sits. He worked as a commercial photographer as well as electrician and his images range from Victoria to Washington State, Oregon and B.C.’s interior with some fantastic First Nation communities, Duncan said.

Local images they know so far include the exhibition building that graced Willows before it burned down in 1907. “Until they’re digitized we don’t know the full extent of what’s there,” Duncan said.

Heritage BC’s Heritage Week is Feb. 19 to 25 under the theme “Heritage Stands the Test of Time” with a clear First Nation focus.

The Oak Bay Archives plan to feature panels from this summer’s display Resilience of the People: A visual history of the traditional territory of the Lekwungen/Songhees people.

“It’s community, and place, and defining Oak Bay. All of the things have made us a community over the decades,” Duncan said of the Feb. 20 event where residents can also learn more about storage and processing of donated items.

“We’re also giving behind the scene tours of the archives,” she said.

The display in council chambers that day is augmented with free heritage walking tours of the village led by historian John Adams. Tours leave municipal hall at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. For those who miss out, he also does routine Uplands historical walking tours, with the next one slated for March 25. Visit DiscoverThePast.com for details.

For more information on the Heritage Week celebration in Oak Bay, visit oakbay.ca/our-community/archives.


 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com

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Oak Bay Archives works to digitize more than 1,000 film and glass negatives of former Oak Bay photographer Bertram Howell. (Christine van Reeuwyk/Oak Bay News)

The estate of former Reeve RR Taylor includes photos of the 1938 ribbon cutting ceremony at the fire hall on Monterey Avenue. (Christine van Reeuwyk/Oak Bay News)

A small selection of the 300-plus books on Victoria donated to the Oak Bay archives by the widow of Jim Munro who died in November 2016. (Christine van Reeuwyk/Oak Bay News)

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