British Columbia History

British Columbia Historical News 2002

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 British Columbia
Historical News
Journal of the British Columbia Historical Federation
Volume 35, No. 4
Fall 2002
ISSN 1195-8294
Expressions of and
creations by women
in Victorian British
Left: Kathleen O 'Reilly, age 21,
December of 1888. Photo taken at the
studio of Lambert Weston & Sons,
Folkestone, England. See "How Shall I
Frame Myself? " by Liberty Walton in this
issue. Our Web site <> is hosted by Selkirk College in Castlegar, BC
British Columbia Historical News
Journal of the
British Columbia Historical Federation
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ISSN 1195-8294
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While copyright in the journal as a whole is vested in the British Columbia Historical Federation, copyright in the individual articles belongs to their respective
authors, and articles may be reproduced for personal use only. For reproduction for other purposes permission in writing of both author and publisher is required. British Columbia
Historical News
Journal of the British Columbia Historical Federation
Volume 35, No. 4
Fall 2002
ISSN 1195-8294
Beauty, Spirituality, and Practicality
by Jennifer Iredale
Beyond Recollection:The Early Art of Emily Carr
byTusa Shea
When the Flowers Talked
by Christine D. Currie
China Painting inVictoria and the Arts and Craft Movement
by Maria Stevenson
The Needle Art of Kathleen O'Reilly
by Tina Lowery
The St. Ann's Academy Art Studio
by Ayla Lepine
Pretty in Pink
by Wendy Nichols
Unravelling the Past
by Rachel Edwards
Yale's Ecclesiastical Textiles
by Natasha Slik
How Shall I Frame Myself?
by Liberty Walton
Book Reviews
News and Notes
Federation News
Last year, Jennifer Iredale, Curator,
Coastal Okanagan Region ofthe Heritage Branch, convinced me that she
would assemble enough writings on
womanly arts to fill an issue to coincide with Women's History month.
She did what she promised.This issue
is in many ways her dream come true.
Objects in museums and collections
may tell us about skills, talents, artistry. They may have aesthetic, sentimental, or montary value but without
records about their makers and their
lives and times—without a human
context—they have little if any historical value for anyone but perhaps
an art historian.
This issue of BC Historical News gathers writings about artifacts with a human context.The articles speak about
specific women of Victoria's social
elite in the late eighteenth century,
their talents and the objects they created. Added are discussions about
two institutions where women
learned and practised these manual
skills and developed their artistic talents.
The preparation of the texts for publication was a greater challenge than
expected, and not only for the authors. I want to extend a special
thanks to University ofVictoria faculty
members Karen Finlay and Barbara
Winters for their generous and substantial help in the final stages of
"Any country worthy of a future should be interested in its past.
W. Kaye Lamb, 1937
the editor
BC HISTORICAL NEWS - FALL 2002 Beauty, Spirituality, and Practicability
by Jennifer Iredale
In 2000, the University ofVictoria received a
Community-University Research Alliance
(CURA) grant by the Social Sciences and
Humanities Research Council of Canada, in a
new initiative to encourage collaboration between
universities and other sectors ofthe community.
Under this grant, which was awarded to the
History in Art Department at the University,
projects were undertaken in partnership with
community heritage organizations to research
and document little-known but historically
important collections. The articles in this issue
ofBC Historical News are a product of
preliminary research mainly by University of
Victoria students and myself in connection with
two continuing CURA projects: an examination of the liturgical textiles in the collection of
St. ]ohn the Divine Church in Yale and a study
of "womanly arts "produced by the women of
four historic sites in Victoria: Helmcken House,
Emily Carr House, Point Ellice House and
Craigflower Manor. University ofVictoria
faculty members Carol-Gibson Wood, Karen
Finlay, Diane Tolomeo, and Cultural Resource
Management Director Loy Davis oversaw most
ofthe student research. All the papers published
here are based on preliminary research, within a
limited time. The program offered these students
the rare opportunity to learn research practices
based on primary materials.
Women and Art in Colonial
British Columbia
As curator of provincial historic sites it
has been my job to preserve and present
significant themes about the building;
often a story in which a woman plays a
supporting rather than dominant role.
Although a house may have been
preserved because it was the home of a
great man, or the oldest man in the
country or for some other reason, a
home is first and foremost the province
of a woman. Women care for the family
and the household contents, they
decorate and buy or make the objects in
the house. Much more than for a man,
the home is an expression and a creation
of a woman's life.
Among the many manufactured
objects in these historic houses are a
At work at the Anglican Archives in Vancouver. From left to right Bev Kennedy, Jennifer
Iredale, Doreen Stevens, Rachel Edwards and Natasha Slik.
number of artifacts made by the women
ofthe household. Although generally not
of significance to the major story that
led to the preservation ofthe house, these
objects caught my attention in that their
creation clearly played a major role in
the life of the maker. These objects
included the visual arts of painting and
drawing and also many decorative art
objects, baskets, ceramics, needlework,
photographs, and even books.
This large collection of "womanly
arts" became of great interest to me and
when studied together I suspected they
could reveal untold and lost stories that
could significantly add to our
understanding and respect of women's
history and lives in colonial British
Studies of decorative arts and
womanly arts have in the past focused
on collections of objects without known
artistic provenance. Collectors did not
document the name of the artist and
women did not sign their work. Part of
the work of this project has been to try
to associate the artists' name with their
work. "Naming the artist" led us to frame
many other questions. How and where
did the makers of these objects learn
these arts? Why did they make these
objects? How were they used? What
function did their creation play in the
life ofthe artist? Why did the artist's name
get separated from the artifact? Why
didn't she sign her work? More broadly,
we were curious about the cultural and
social significance of the art as well as
the societal or self-perception of these
women as creators or artists. We wanted
our research to uncover and provide a
greater understanding of the social
systems that existed to encourage or
discourage women in the arts and to
discover why so much of this story of
womanly arts was untold or had been
My work on this project has led me
to believe that the creation of these
artifacts can be traced to the ideologies
of mid-Victorian social reform
movements directed by secular and
ecclesiastical agencies as well as a growing
nineteenth-century cultural appreciation
for the useful arts and the ideals of "art
for life's sake." Simply stated, the
decorative arts created by women in
nineteenth-century Victoria can usefully
be discussed as part ofthe Arts and Crafts
movement with a strong dash of church
and religion.
The proponents of the Arts and Crafts
ideals believed that it was an uplifting
experience of a higher order to create
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol. 35 No. 2 or to use an utilitarian object that was
beautiful. The belief was that good art
not only revealed the spirit of its maker
but also affected its user. As William
Morris wrote: "Have nothing in your
houses that you do not know to be
useful, or believe to be beautiful."
Reformers such as Pugin, George
Bernard Shaw, William Morris, and
Mackmurdo as well as many other
British writers and designers practised
and published to promote the restoration
of the useful arts—pottery, metalwork,
bookbinding, the textiles arts, glass and
ceramic painting, woodcarving and
basketry—to their "rightful places"
beside painting and sculpture.They were
seeking to create a society where
handicrafts not only equalled the fine arts
but were superior to them.They believed
art was the spirit in which something
was done and not necessarily a
specialized activity. Even the simplest
product deserved to be made a thing of
beauty. Thus beauty, practicability, and
spirituality were the fundamental values
underlying the reasons why Victorian
women spent so much time creating or
decorating practical objects.
Religion was central to Victorian life
in England and very much in the Colony.
Missionaries and their churches largely
undertook the earliest education in
British Columbia. Many of the women
whose work is examined in the following
papers received their early schooling at
a religious school. The curriculum in
these colonial schools always included
lessons in visual and decorative arts and
many of the nuns were skilled artists in
their own right. Not only did they pass
on their knowledge on how to create
beautiful and useful objects to their
colonial female students, they also passed
on strong moral concepts of creating
beautiful objects as a spiritual activity and
the value of undertaking labour for
charitable causes.
This concept of charity was
fundamental to the Victorian ethos but
frequently took the form of giving work
rather than money. Needlework, painted
ceramics, beaded items, and other
womanly arts such as baking and floral
decoration were made by Victorian
middle class women to sell to one
another to raise funds for charity. These
women, without financial means of their
CHRISTINE D. CURRIE completed her Honours BA in art history at the University of
Victoria. She began graduate work at the University of Essex, UK, majoring in art
during the Renaissance and Reformation.
RACHEL EDWARDS hasjust finished her BA degree in English at the University of
Victoria and will be doing graduate work at St. Andrews, Scotland next year.
AYLA LEPIN is currently in her final year in University of Victoria's art history
honours program.She intends to go on to a Masters program in architectural
TINA LOWERY completed her BA in history at Simon Fraser University. She has
worked in collection management at Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site and is
currently on contract to the Provincial Heritage Branch.
WENDY NICHOLS has recently completed the museum management and cura-
torship program at Sir Sanford Fleming College.
TUSA SHEA is currently in the first year of a Master program in art history at the
University ofVictoria.
NATASHA SLIK hasjust finished her BA degree in medieval studies at the University ofVictoria.
MARLA STEVENSON is an artist and writer. She has a diploma of fine arts from the
Kootenay School or Arts, majoring in ceramics and is presently a fourth-year
history in art honours student at the University ofVictoria.
LIBERTYWALTON has an art history BAof the University of Victoria, several years
of curatorial background.and Website project management experience. Visit her
Web site <wetcoastdesign.>
own, were better able to provide the skill
and time required to make these items,
rather than a cash contribution. In a very
direct way it can be seen that the church
and ecclesiastical social reform shaped the
arts in colonial British Columbia.
This work served as an outlet for many
women's talents and gave a focus for
artistic development appropriate in a
Victorian woman's life. Very few of the
women whose work is chronicled in
these papers became recognized artists.
Schooling, religion, family, and societal
values all supported women's work and
life being in the private sphere of home
and family. Nevertheless, the making of
decorative and fine arts for home and
charity can be seen as contributing to
these women's self-expression and
personal sense of independence and
should be understood as part of the
artistic tradition and artistic output of
the Victorian period in British
These ideas are explored and
illustrated in the following papers, mainly
authored by University of Victoria
students. The material history research
they undertook at the historic sites was
complemented by study of related
material in various archives; notably the
BC Archives Victoria City Archives, the
Anglican Archives at UBC, Vancouver
City Archives, Yale Museum Archives,
St. Ann's Archives, and the All Hallows
Archives in Ditchingham, England.
Our thanks must be extended to all
the archivists and museum staff who have
assisted us in our research, as well as the
many descendants and "elders" who
agreed to interviews or gave us access to
related collections.The research trail was
"hot," the discoveries plenty and very
exciting. Best of all were the growing
delight and exclamations of happy
surprise by women who had "no idea"
that their grandmothers or their own arts
were a significant topic of study and they
were heartened by our interest.
We share with you a work in progress:
the untold stories of a number of women
artists in colonial British Columbia.^^
Studies on the basketery collection at the White
Rock Museum written by Karen Petkau and Faith
Whiting in the context of this project will appear in
The MIDDEN, published by the Archaeological
Society of British Columbia.
BC HISTORICAL NEWS - SPRING 2002 Beyond Recollection
The Early Art Education of Emily Carr
1 Emily Carr, Growing Pains
(Toronto: Oxford University
Press, 1946), 6.
2 Ibid, 20.
3 Ann Bermingham, Learning
to Draw: Studies in the
Cultural History of a Polite and
Useful Art. (NewHaven:Yale
University Press,2001), 184.
4 Christina Johnson-Dean,
"B.C Women Artists, 1885-
1920" in British Columbia
Women Artists: 1885-1985
(Art Gallery of Greater
Victoria: 1985), 8.
5 Carr, Growing Pains, 27A.
3 Bermingham, Learning to
Draw, 12 5,151, and especially
I Carr, Growing Pains, 14.
8 Emily Woods Clipping File,
BC Archives, D19 2845.
3 Angela College Statement
of School Fees, August
186-February 1877, BC
Archives, MS 2538.
10 Carr, Growing Pains, 14.
II Bermingham, Learning to
12 John Jessop, Annual Report
of the Public Schools of
1875, BC Archives, D31,
reel 1, 87. In 1875, John
Jessop, the superintendent
for BC schools, argued for
the inclusion of drawing in
public schools and quoted
"a competent authority" as
saying" whosoever can learn
to write can learn to draw.'
His sentiments on drawing
echo those of the British
utilitarian drawing advocate
Henry Cole, who
established the first art
training school for teachers
in Britain. For more on
Henry Cole see Fiona
MacCarthy, A History of
British Design 1830-1970
(London: George, Allen and
Unwin, 1979), 7-9.
Right: Emily Carr. Roses
IN her autobiographical writing, Emily Carr
was careful to portray herself in the tradition of the romantic individual by highlighting historical facts about herself that conformed
to the modernist image of the artist as a professional and a genius, and downplaying those that
did not. Born during a snowstorm, "contrary
from the start,"' she emphasized her difference
from the rest of her family and insinuated that
her "fondness for drawing" was not only viewed
with disinterest by her sisters, but was something she had initiated on her own at a very
young age.2
Yet, inVictoria during the 1880s, when Emily
was in her teens, it was not out of the ordinary
for upper-middle-class young ladies to receive
training in drawing and painting as a standard
part of their formal education. Such artistic training in "the accomplishments" was considered a
necessary marker of class status and refinement
of character.3 As Christina Johnson Dean has
pointed out, Emily Carr's early art is equally as
conservative as the work of other "gentlewomen" ofthe time,4 and would not look particularly uncomfortable alongside the watercolour still lifes or the landscape sketches of the
"society ladies" Emily mockingly referred to as
"a very select band of elderly persons, very prehistoric in their ideas on Art."5
Although Emily Carr received a good deal
of such art education in her early life inVictoria, overall, scholars have not paid the same careful attention to it as they have to the formal
methods of art training she experienced in San
Francisco and Europe. The artistic training that
was part of a young girl's education in accomplishments during the Victorian era was designed
to inculcate femininity, and was invested with
connotations of morality.6 Therefore, the products created out of women's efforts to employ
the artistic skills they were taught within this
system do not simply reflect the results of art
training, but are the complex by-products of
women's efforts to function within and around
the social pressures and limitations that were
placed on them.
Emily Carr's early art education belongs
within this training in "the accomplishments."
Furthermore, both of Emily Carr's early local
art teachers produced significant bodies of work
that have not been investigated.This article will
take a closer look at the early artistic training
that Emily Carr received inVictoria, and attempt
to provide a clearer picture of her art teachers.
Emily Carr spent the first few years of her
education at a private school run by Mrs. Frazer
at Merrifield Cottage near her home in James
Bay. There she received drawing lessons from
Miss Emily Woods, who "came every Monday
with a portfolio of copies under her arm."7 Emily
Woods was born in Ireland, but her family had
immigrated to Victoria, along with her uncle
Reverend C.T.Woods, in I860.8 She had attended Angela College, an Anglican private girls'
school, with Emily Carr's older sisters where,
like most upper-middle-class young ladies, they
had all received lessons in pencil and watercolour drawing.9 Woods excelled in botanical and
landscape drawing, and over three hundred of
her own pencil and watercolour drawings are
held in the BC Archives collections.
Emily Carr later recalled the pride she had
felt at winning a prize from Woods for copying
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.35 No.4 a picture of a boy with a rabbit.10 Emily Woods's
method of instructing her students to copy other
drawings probably reflects the way she herself
had been trained. Although at the time copying
was still the foundation of academic art training, it had also been promoted as an especially
suitable pastime for ladies because it was not
thought to require original thinking, talent, or
a gift for genius.11 Thus it remained safely in the
realm ofthe amateur. A commonly repeated philosophy of the times stated that "anyone who
can learn to write can learn to draw,"12 suggesting that drawing skills could be acquired through
careful practice, and that they had more to do
with accuracy than with creativity.
By the time Emily Carr was ten years old she
was attending Central Public School with her
sisters Lizzie and Alice. Although Emily's two
eldest sisters, Clara and Edith, had attended the
prestigious Angela College,13 and most of Emily's
and Alice's friends continued to do so, their father was no longer convinced that an expensive
private ladies' school could provide a proper academic grounding. According to Emily, her father was of the opinion that even though such
schools taught young ladies manners, or what
she satirically described as "how to hold their
heads up, their stomachs in and how to look
down their noses at the right moment,"14 by
the late 1880s they had fallen behind the academic standard set by the Canadian public education system.15
Because drawing was apparently not part of
the curriculum at Central Public School,16
Emily, Alice, and Lizzie took private art lessons
with Miss Ada Leslie Withrow, who had opened
an art studio inVictoria in 1883. Miss Withrow
gave lessons to young ladies in oil and water-
colour painting, as well as crayon and pencil
drawing.17 In her otherwise exhaustively researched biography of Emily Carr, Maria Tippett
writes: "Along with Alice and Lizzie, Emily
joined the class of Miss Eva Withrow, who had
trained as an artist in San Francisco [my emphasis] ."18 Aside from using the wrong name, no
mention is made of the fact that Ada Withrow
was originally from British Columbia and had
received her early lessons in drawing at St. Ann's
Academy in New Westminster.19 This is the kind
of oversight that demonstrates just how uninterested scholars have been in Emily Carr's local art training.
Ada Withrow had numerous works of art on
exhibit in various Victoria storefronts from the
time she opened her studio in 1883 until 1888
when she was married.20 She appears to have
been a highly regarded artist inVictoria at that
time, and was commissioned by prominent families to do portraits in oil, four of which are held
in the BC Archives collections.21 It is likely that
Ada Withrow introduced Emily Carr to oil
painting. In addition, Maria Tippet credits
Withrow with encouraging and assisting Emily
in submitting work to the California School of
Design, which she attended in 1891.22
Like Emily Woods, Ada Withrow taught Emily
Carr to draw by copying.23 Just as Miss Woods
had given her a prize for her earlier copy work,
Emily Carr's father gave her five dollars for two
copies of portraits she had drawn using a grid
method Miss Withrow had taught her.24 The rewards and attention Emily received from her
teachers and father encouraged her to continue
to work at her drawing skills. It is notable that
one of the rewards she received was money,
which must have reinforced the idea that art
could be a way to financial independence. Miss
Woods and Miss Withrow, both gainfully employed upper-middle class ladies, provided Emily
Carr with positive role models. She eventually
followed their example and taught art lessons
to children when she returned from studying
in San Francisco.
Left: Emily Carr, Adam
and Eve rug.
13 Angela College Statement
of School Fees 1867-1877,
BC Archives, MS 2538.
14 Emily Carr, The Book of
Small (Toronto: Oxford
University Press, 1942), 168.
15 Jean Barman, "The
Emergence of Educational
Structures in Nineteenth
Century British Columbia,'
in Jean Barman et al, eds.
Children, Teachers and Schools
in the History of British
Columbia (Calgary: Detselig
Enterprises Ltd, 1995), 189-
16 Maria Tippett, Emily Carr:
A Biography (Toronto:
Oxford University Press.
1979), 12. Even though
Maria Tippett states that
drawing was not part of the
curriculum at Girl's Central
School, linear drawing was
listed on the report card as
a possible subject in 1886.
(Flora Frazer Report Card.
1886, BC Archives, MS
2800, File 1). It is possible
that linear drawing was only
offered if there was a teacher
who was skilled in that area
to teach it. Likewise, it may
be that linear drawing was
a subject taught only to boys
at this time.
17 The Daily British Colonist, 2
October 1883, 3.
18 Tippet, Emily Carr, 11-12.
19 Ada Withrow Clipping File,
PABC, (D19 162-0463).
20 James K. Nesbitt,"Victoria
Started to Grow in 1886,'
The Daily Colonist, 5 April
1966, 10. In 1883, Miss
Withrow had work on
exhibit at the store of M. W
Waitt & Co. The Daily
British Colonist had this to
say: "The crayon ofVenus is
a life-like production. A
scene on the Susquehanna,
for boldness and charming
blend of color, is admirable,
but a picture of Oregon
scenery, with the hoary
outlines of Mount Hood
rising in silent majesty in the
background, and the deep,
quiet water, fringed with
trees and shrubs, in the fore,
Notes continue >>>
BC HISTORICAL NEWS - FALL 2002 Right: Mouth ofVictoria
Harbour and James Bay
Bridge by Emily Henrietta
Woods, October 1882
presents a view of exquisite
loveliness." (The Daily British
Colonist, 1883, 30
September 1883). In 1886,
she had work on exhibit at
Joseph Sommers art shop,
as well as at Mr. Jacob Sehl's
furniture store. (Ada
Withrow Clipping File, BC
Archives, D19 162-0463.
21 The following portraits
painted by Ada Withrow
are housed in the BC
Archives collections:
"Ebenezer Brown," 1880s,
PDP-02666; "The Late
Honorable William
Smithe," 1887, PDP-
00363; "The Late
Honorable Robert
Dunsmuir," 1889, PDP-
09064; "The Late
Honorable Robert
Dunsmuir," 1889, PDP-
22 Tippet, Emily Carr, 18.
23 Emily Carr, Growing Pains,
2i Ibid., 15.
25 Tippet, Emily Carr, 19. See
also Carr, Growing Pains, 40.
26 Carr, Growing Pains, 99.
27 Ibid., 277
28 Ibid., 276.
■■•'• i»£ ■
i r * "*
Even though, while attending art classes in
San Francisco, she had been exposed to a diverse range of drawing styles and techniques,
Emily refused to attend life drawing classes on
moral grounds and instead focused on landscape
and still life.25 She later referred to the kind of
art she produced during this time as "humdrum
and unemotional—objects honestly portrayed,
nothing more."26 Even after returning from five
years of study in England she called her work
"narrow, conservative, dull seeing, perhaps rather
mechanical, but nevertheless honest."27 Yet, these
criticisms were launched from the perspective
of hindsight during a time when Emily Carr
identified strongly with the modernist ethos of
Lawren Harris and the Group of Seven, and thus
represent her attempts to reframe her own artistic career. Emily Carr could not reconcile the
disparity between the two images of herself as a
gentlewoman art teacher and an eccentric artist, and so created a dichotomy between her conservative early work and her later "true" work,
which brought her notoriety and acceptance
from other artists.
In her autobiographical writing Emily Carr
describes how as a child she had so wanted to
draw, that she retrieved charcoal out of the fireplace and drew on scraps of paper, as if a great
paucity of drawing implements had conspired
against her. She states that she was allowed to
take art classes as a young girl, and contrasts her
own penchant for drawing heads with her sis
ters' inclination toward flowers. After being dismissed from her position as art teacher from
the Vancouver Art Club, she claims she would
rather starve than spend one more second teaching art to women she described as "vulgar, lazy
old beasts."28 Yet, what separates Emily Carr from
the lady painters she so disdained, or from her
sisters who were content to paint china and
sketch flowers, is not so much that she was an
artist, but that, by the time she turned her attention to the past, she saw herself as a particular kind of artist.
Later biographers and writers have tended to
follow Emily Carr's lead, and have bypassed her
early local art training.This lack of interest in the
"unexceptional" has resulted in a historical picture that tends to favour a traditional stereotype
of the artist as a heroic genius. Yet the art and
artistic products women created during the late
nineteenth-century functioned in more complex
ways than simply by attempting to fit into the
fine art system perpetuated by popular art schools
like the Royal Academy in England. To analyze
Emily Carr's work only in terms of the professional art system is limiting because she created
so many other kinds of artistic products like
hooked rugs, pottery, and humorous narrative
cartoons. In order to discuss these fascinating and
significant artistic products, which do not reflect
the standards of professional art training, it makes
sense to look at what other kinds of experiences
may have shaped her work.^^-'
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.35 No.4 When the Flowers Talked
by Christine D. Currie
EDITH Louisa (Helmcken) Higgins, known as Dolly, was the youngest daughter of Dr. John Sebastian and Cecilia Helmcken. Her father was the colony's first surgeon and general practitioner, and an
active politician who helped negotiate British Columbia's entrance into
Confederation in 1871. When Edith was two years old, her mother died,
leaving Dr. Helmcken as a sole parent. Due to his frequent travels on government duty Edith was raised primarily by the family's housekeepers.
Edith attended school at St. Ann's Academy and excelled in the arts. Like
many young women from Victoria's social elite, she went to Toronto for
finishing school where she showed promise in art and music. In 1882 she
went to London for further study, and, accompanied by an aunt, she travelled extensively in Britain and on the European continent before returning to Victoria the next year. In 1889 Edith married William R. Higgins, a
professional British-trained singer, the son of prominent Victoria pioneers.
At the age of 30, William Higgins took ill and died and in October 1896
Edith went to live with her father at her childhood home.'
In 1919, a year before Dr. Helmcken died, Edith wrote An Early Spring
Morning Chat: When the Flowers Palked, a charming, self-produced booklet
for children.The book was dedicated to great-nephew John Douglas Craig
McTavish "and all other children who played in the Dear Old Garden."
There are two known copies ofthe book, both illustrated by Edith's cousin
Martha Harris (nee Douglas), a known Victoria writer and painter, and
"typed by Miss Dora Kitts." Although efforts were made to produce identical copies, there are slight differences in the illustrations and the placement of text on the pages.
In the epilogue of the book Edith mentions that she wrote the book to
"try and interest children in the love of flowers." Edith Helmcken's own
interest in flowers and gardening came from her father, a keen gardener.
The story unfolds in the "Dear Old Garden" and takes the form of a dialogue between two of the flowers, Mr. Johnnie Snowdrops and Glory-of-
the-Snow. In the course of their gossip-like conversation, these two antagonists discuss the various inhabitants of the garden in terms of their
specific characteristics and relate the story how a human being, the Man
Flower, cultivates and cares for the flowers.
The book reflects Victorian custom and propriety by blending a children's moral story with the Victorian sensibility ofthe "symbolism of flowers." Some inspiration for her book likely came from the numerous books
on gardening in the Helmcken library, including two copies of Phe Manual
of the School Garden, published in 1856, a basic garden manual. Children's
books about flowers were also in the family's book collection. A small book
called Phe Flower of Innocence2 bears an inscription that reads "to Edith Louisa
Helmcken, a birthday gift from her affectionate uncle James, 24th June
1870."3 Flowers are pressed between stories rife with scripture and floral
descriptions. An inscription in Flower Stories andPheir Lessons:A Book for the
Young (London, 1864) names the owner as Edith's older sister Amy. These
and similar books kindled Edith's interest in flowers and their symbolic
Notes on next page >>>
All illustrations in this article are from Edith Helmcken s book
and are reproduced here with kind permission of Helmcken
descendants who own two of the surviving copies.
BC HISTORICAL NEWS - FALL 2002 Right: Dr. Helmcken,
'Man Flower" in Edith
Helmcken s book, tending
the "Dear Old Garden" at
the age of ninety-four.
1 BC Archives,
NWp.707.4 182 A
2 The first pages are
damaged and the name
of the author and
publication information
is missing.
3 It is not known who this
"Uncle James" was.The
word "not" has been
written in front of
"affectionate uncle,'
perhaps by Edith herself.
5 Kimberley Reynolds
Children s Literature in
the!890s and 1990s
(Plymouth: Northcote
House,   1994), ix.
0 Johanna Lehner and
Ernst Lehner. Folklore and
Symbolism of Flowers,
Plants and Trees ( New
York:Tudor Publishing,
7 Lesley Gordon. Green
Magic: Flower Plants &
Herbs in Lore & Legend
(New York: The Viking
Press, 1977).
s BC Archives, MS 0505, v.
Below: " Man Flower,' the
Gardener, being my
father... who arrived in
Victoria B. C. in
1850.. .in the sailing
vessel 'Norman Morrison
In An Early Spring Morning Chat: When the
Flowers Palked, the language, floral theme, and style
are consistent with countless other Victorian
moral tales for children concerned with with
shaping the young reader's ideas.4
The book employs the symbolic language of
flowers that was very important in the eighteenth
and nineteenth centuries.5 In Green Magic: Flower
Plants & Herbs in Lore and Legend, Lesley Gordon
examines the many Victorian books on the language of flowers.6 Often these books were arranged as a foreign language dictionary with the
first half of the book listing flowers followed by
meanings and the second half the reverse. Also
common were flower bibles in which segments
of the text were accompanied with a representative species of flowers.
The flowers in An Early Spring Morning Chat:
When the Flowers Palked, have specific symbolic
meaning. Following the convention, the oak represents hospitality, rosemary is remembrance, and
violets are modesty and faithfulness. Gloria,
"Glory-of-the-Snow," comments, "The reason I
am out so early is that dear old Mrs. Oaktree,
who lives just over there, being so generous and
kind, gave me some of her warm brown leaves to
cover me." In another passage, Miss Violet is described as "modest and sweet." Elsewhere, Miss
Rosemary offers rosemary sprigs to the main
characters so that they will remember their conversation and why they want to remain in this
cultivated garden.
However, the symbolism in Edith's book does
not always concur with contemporary source
material. For example, she designates dandelions
as weeds and dangerous characters.This may correspond with a seasoned gardener's opinion, but
it does not conform to the conventional language
of flowers, where the dandelion is honoured as a
rustic oracle. For Edith the dandelion represented
"uneducted" and "uncultivated" flowers which
must be sent away, in other words, they had not
learned the lessons of moral propriety. She clearly
took liberties within the established tradition to
suit her needs.
Dr. Helmcken's clear expectations of upstanding behaviour from his youngest daughter could
be reflected in the conduct of the flowers in
Edith's book. In a letter to Edith dated 9 June
1870, her father wrote as though she were an
adult—she was then only seven years old. He discusses politics, and compares the virtues ofVancouver Island with that of the whole Dominion
,Vtx. ...
. J
1 ■       ^
1      ]
jjgfr^ -
of Canada. He repeatedly instructs Edith to be a
good girl.
God has been good to little Edith, and whilst
she continues to be an obedient little girl and
behaves herself everybody will like her. But remember, you have to depend upon
yourself.. .and continue to be a good little girl
and give up crying and learn to sit quietly at
the table. Now my little daughter I must finish—be a very good little girl—so that when I
return at the end of next month I may be
proud of my little daughter.7
Edith's book was finished while her father was
gravely ill. He was perhaps the most important
person in her life. Dr. Helmcken had been an
accomplished gardener, passing many hours outdoors and in his greenhouse. Edith wrote in the
epilogue that "Man Flower", the caring gardener
in her story, and the only human to make an
appearance, is her father, "who has always taken a
keen interest in the cultivation of flowers, even
today at the age of ninety-four." She may also be
making an analogy between his nurturing of his
garden and the care he showed to his family, patients, and the welfare of British Columbia.
Edith's book for children reflects the values
encoded in the Victorian language of flowers and
her father's moral standards, told through a tale
based on their mutual love of the family
To have a look at and page through a copy of Edith s
charming book visit the schooinet Web site pages
<www. ca/culture/schoolnet/helmcken/
helmbook/pagel ,html>.
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.35 No.4 Edith Helmcken's Hand-Painted Ceramics
by Maria Stevenson
CERAMIC artifacts at Helmcken House in
Victoria hint at colonial women's lively
interest in china painting. A small collection of hand-painted plaques by Edith Helmcken
helps us to explore the history of local women
who decorated and worked in clay. What follows
is a brief case study of the ceramics painted by
Helmcken, which I will argue reflect the Arts and
Crafts aesthetic that pervaded Victoria.
During Helmcken's formative years and early
maturity, the Arts and Crafts aesthetic was widely
influential in Britain and North America, including Victoria. There are abundant examples ofthe
Arts and Crafts style evident in Victoria homes
and gardens today. In 1992,Edward Gibson summarizes the situation at the beginning ofthe twentieth century on the BC coast:
Many highly skilled industrial craftspeople were
attracted to the new Pacific railhead at a time of
worldwide recession at the turn of the century.
Stone masons, carvers, glaziers, landscape gardeners and cabinet-makers flooded to the coast
from Great Britain. More importantly, they
came from backgrounds steeped in the Arts and
Crafts Movement. The coast's formative years
were stamped with the tastes of William Morris's News From Nowhere and its images of
handcrafted decoration and a gardened landscape, an earthly paradise needing human care.
Gibson goes on to write specifically about Victoria's eager adoption of the Arts and Crafts Movement, "By 1900, arts and crafts societies, centred
mainly inVictoria, were promoting ceramics and
painting, and horticultural societies were promoting landscape garden competitions in the new
towns and cities."'
The influence of the Arts and Crafts movement
extends to Helmcken's china painting. The small
collection of her work at Helmcken House, includes three plaques, a plate, and a small porcelain
tea-set. The plaques are decorated with daisies,
black-eyed Susans, and a portrait of a child.2 The
three plaques are described as porcelain in the
Helmcken House collection catalogue, but they
are actually earthenware.3
The plaque decorated with daisies is the only
dated piece in the group. It was painted in 1881,
when Helmcken was nineteen. In 1881 and 1882,
she was in England, and it can be concluded that
this plate was painted there.This is supported by a
letter written by Helmcken from England to her
sister Amy McTavish back home.4 Also, no evidence has been found of a china painting kiln in
Victoria before 1892. In that year, a newspaper
article titled "The Provincial Fair: The Art Gallery" praises Ethel McMicking's china painting,
and implies her kiln was the only one inVictoria,
or the area. It stated:
About as pretty a collection as is to be found
in the whole gallery is that of painted china
and terra cotta,7 by Miss Ethel M. McMicking,
...The young lady completes the work herself,
the necessary firing being done by the use of
the Wilkie studio kiln, said to be the only one
on the Coast.8
A final reason for concluding that the piece was
painted in London is that an English style of china
painting, which closely resembles Helmcken's, and
was usually done on earthenware, was popular
when she was there. This style of china painting
was a product of the aesthetic promoted by John
Ruskin and William Morris: it was a reaction
Above: Earthenware
plaque decorated by the
19-year-old Edith
Helmcken with daisies in
1881. 10 inches across.
1 E. Gibson, "Pacific Craft
Traditions and
Development" in A
Treasury of Canadian Craft.
S. Carter, ed. (Vancouver:
Canadian Craft Museum,
2 HH 1988.1.236, HH
1988.1.218, and HH
1988.1.514 respectively:
the plaques each have
two holes in the backs to
accommodate hanging
devices, which
distinguishes them from
3 When tapped with a
finger, they emit a dull
"clunk", instead of a
high "ping" as porcelain
Notes continue >>>
9 Right: Black-eyed Susan
plaque by Edith
Helmcken. About 20
inches across.
should using the same
test. The tonal difference
occurs because porcelain
clay vitrifies (begins to
melt and become glass),
during the firing, while
earthenware clay, fired to
a lower temperature,
remains un-vitrified.
4 British Columbia
Archives. Call No. MS
505, Box No. 14, File
No. 4, Dolly Helmcken
correspondence, July 24,
5 Terra cotta is
0 Victoria Daily Colonist, 29
September 1892. A
china painting kiln was
donated by the
McMicking family to St.
Ann's Academy in the
late 1890s, this is
probably the same
kiln. (Linda McMicking
interview, 26 April
7 W. Kaplan. The Art that is
life: The Arts and Crafts
Movement in America,
1975-1920 (Boston:
Museum of Fine Arts,
1987), 54.
s P. Stansky, Redesigning the
World: William Morris, the
1880s, and the Arts and
Crafts. (New Jersey:
Princeton University
Press, 1985), 31.
3 D. Pye, The Nature and Art
ofWorkmanship (London:
Cambridge University
Press, 1968), 66.
10 A. Callen, Angel in the
Studio: Women in the Arts
and Crafts Movement
1870-1914 (London:
Astragal Books, 1979),
Right: Child's portrait.
Plaque by Edith
against the repetitive look displayed by factory-
produced items. W Kaplan writes:
...factory work had so disturbed the natural
rhythms of life, that it turned once creative
craftsmen into mere cogs in the wheel of machinery, so that they, like their products, lost
uniqueness. For Ruskin the industrial revolution made designers become anonymous labourers.7
Ruskin thought that handmade arts and crafts
should show their imperfections; he called them
"virtues of irregularity."8 The irregularities gave
the piece a spiritual quality which Ruskin believed
nature had, but machine-made objects lacked. In
Phe Nature and Art ofWorkmanship, D. Pye noted
that Ruskin, "before Japanese aesthetics were
known in the West, [recognized] that free and rough
workmanship has aesthetic qualities which are
unique."9 Ruskin also thought the structures of
Nature could be mined for creative inspiration.
Some principles practiced in the natural style were
respect for originality, valuing of unique, non-repetitive characteristics, and recognizing beauty in
variety, as opposed to sameness.
During the 1870s, a craze for china painting,
participated in by middle-class women, developed
in England. A book about women and the Arts
and Crafts movement, Angel in the Studio: Women
in the Arts and Crafts Movement 1870-1914, by A.
Callen describes the phenomenon:
Thus the 1870s saw a
veritable explosion of
interest in art pottery
decoration and painting on china. At the
amateur level, this interest developed to
craze proportions as
ladies all over England
took up the craft; for
a while it outstripped
embroidery as a pastime.
According to Callen,
one of the most popular
places in London to learn
china painting was at
Howell and James' Art
Pottery Classes. 10The February 1880 issue of the
city's Magazine of Art advertised the classes: "Mssrs.
Howell and James Pottery
Classes...have opened a studio at their Art Galleries where classes for ladies are held daily, Saturdays
excluded, in China Painting."
Howell and James held regular exhibits of china
painting and popular china painting competitions.
An 1878 Howell and James exhibit included some
earthenware plaques painted in a lively, natural way
which closely resembles Helmcken's china painting style.11 An 1879 Magazine of Art review of a
Howell and James china painting exhibit describes
some china-painted plants as "treated naturally"
compared to "conventional, elegant arrangements"
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.35 No.4 of china-painted flowers and foliage: "We hardly know whether to award the
palm to plants treated naturally, or to the many graceful and elegant conventional arrangements of flowers and foliage to be found in the collection."
The author describes some plaques painted in the natural way as "boldly
and vigorously painted on a dark ground" and as having "freshness and originality"12 Helmcken's china-painted plaques were painted during the same
interval, in close proximity to the Howell and James studio. It seems plausible
that Helmcken took part in the china painting craze while she was in London, and her plaques were produced as a result of this experience. Perhaps
she even took lessons with Howell and James, or a similar studio. It seem
reasonable to posit that the informal naive look of her pieces is due to Ruskin's
promotion of a "natural" look for arts and crafts.
Helmcken's 1881 plaque painted with daisies shows much evidence ofthe
handcrafted aesthetic promoted by Ruskin, Morris, and the Howell and James
Gallery.The slightly bowl-shaped plaque, about ten inches across, is painted
with an informal arrangement of daisies. The heads of the daisies take up a
significant portion of the available space on the plate.These include six fully-
opened flowers, with loosely-painted white petals and yellow centres. A seventh flower, just to the right ofthe others, curves downward, and is partially
opened.The leaves and centres ofthe daisies have a layered, watercolour-like
appearance. The built-up colours indicate the piece was china-painted several times, and fired after each painting. A thick dark brown layer of china-
paint has been brushed up to the edges of the flower petals, stems, and leaves.
In some areas the rough edge ofthe background colour has not quite reached
a petal's edge. In other places the background has been casually brushed over
a green-hued leaf's edge or into the white of a petal.The brighter colours of
the leaves and flowers are dramatic against the plaque's nearly black background. Each leaf and petal is freely and individually painted and there is a
pleasing, relaxed, sketch-like quality to the entire image.
The plaque Helmcken decorated with black-eyed Susans is substantially
larger than the daisy plate and measures about twenty inches across. It is
another interesting example of Helmcken's vibrant, personal style. On the
plaque's surface, Helmcken has spontaneously sketched four black-eyed Susan
blossoms. Three ofthe flowers are large and open, while the fourth's partly-
open flower on the right, faces upward. The artist has then painted green,
brown, and yellow colour within the shapes of the petals and leaves formed
by the dark line drawing. Some of the china-paint is very thick, particularly
in the dark brown parts of the image, as in the centre of a flower. Small areas
of cross-hatching add depth to several leaves and petals. Speckles of paint are
spattered (it seems unintentionally), here and there on top of the art work.
The background behind the black-eyed Susan blossoms consists of a blended
transition from black into blue, although some brushwork can be seen.
The lively spontaneity of Helmcken's china painting is enchanting. It seems
so different from the elegant and more formal style of china painting with
which we are more typically familiar, such as the delicately tinted flower
painting on what North Americans refer to as "the good china". In Helmcken's
work, the paint is thickly laid on in very visible brushstrokes, and her compositions are rough and informal.The variety, asymmetry, and naivety exhibited in Edith Helmcken's work is probably the result of her conscious attempt to emulate the "virtues of irregularity" espoused by Ruskin and
Above: Earthenware plaque painted by L Edith Cowper
dated 1878. From M. Haslam, English Pottery: 1865-
Above: Earthenware plaque L Wedgewood and Sons,
1880. From M. Haslam, English Pottery: 1865-1915.
1 "Naturally decorated'
plaques are illustrated in
M. Haslam s English Art
Pottery: 1865-1915
(Suffolk: Baron
Publishing, 1975), 131.
Examples of the informal
style from Haslam's book
are shown above.
2 "The Fourth Annual
Exhibition of Paintings
on China", The Magazine
of Art, VII, 1879. 269-
11 The Needle Art of Kathleen O'Reilly
by Tina Lowery
1 Kathleen O'Reilly was born to Peter and Caroline
(Trutch) O'Reilly in 1867. Peter O'Reilly came to
Victoria from Ireland in 1859 and in 1863 married
Caroline A. Trutch, the sister of Joseph Trutch who
became BC's first Lieutenant-Governor. Peter worked as
Stipendiary Magistrate, Gold Commissioner, and Indian
Reserve Commissioner all important roles and key to
the early development of the Province of British
Columbia. They were a middle-class family who lived in
the beautiful, but not opulent or extravagant, home at
Point Ellice along the Gorge, and who were among
Victoria's social elite.
2 The needle arts are generally divided into two main
categories. Plain sewing, such as mending, was learned
by girls and women of every social class. These simple
stitches formed the basis of the necessary skills and
techniques required in the second category, fancy
needlework. Fancy needlework was popular among the
women of the upper and middle classes who produced
work that was to become a part of the decorative arts.
Traditionally within the definition of fancy needlework
fall many types of work, and specifically within the time
of this research project, from 1860-1920, includes both
canvas and ornamental needlework.
3Mrs. Lethbridge in 1875 and Miss Robinson in 1876,
from notes on Kathleen in the diary of Peter O'Reilly
O'Reilly Family Papers. BC Archives.
4 As described in the 1860 Female Collegiate School
prospectus, the object of the school was "to provide
careful religious training, in combination with a solid
English Education, and the usual accomplishments." The
school offered lessons in
music and singing,
drawing and painting, and
needlework. From the
monthly magazine of the
Anglican Synod of BC
and the Yukon. Anglican
Synod archives at UBC
5 PE975.1.5055
0 Letter from Caroline to
Kathleen, 7 April 1884.
s Barbara Morris, Victorian
Embroidery (London:
Herbert Jenkins, 1962),
MIDDLE-AND UPPER-CLASS women inVictoria, well trained in the
womanly arts, or "the accomplishments," produced works for
private consumption to be given as gifts, for charity events, or
for decorating their own homes. Generally, collections of needle art available to historians and researchers are by nameless, unknown women, but
the collections at Carr House, Craigflower Manor, Helmcken House, and
Point Ellice House include an impressive amount of needlework that can
be attributable to woman artists such as Dolly Helmcken, Goodie McKenzie,
and Kathleen O'Reilly.1
A watercolourist, musician, and needlewoman, Kathleen exemplified the
Victorian ideal ofthe "accomplished" lady. The technical skills she learned
and practised in painting, for example, resulted in her ability and confidence in creating and designing her own pieces of needle art."2 While
educated as a young child at home by private tutors, Miss Lethbridge and
Miss Robinson,3 Kathleen might have learned simple sewing techniques
from her mother and her tutors. In her teens, Kathleen attended Victoria's
Angela College from 1879 to 1882, where needlework was included in the
curriculum.4 A Berlin wool work pillow cover found in the O'Reilly collection may be an example of Kathleen's student work.5 Berlin wool work,
one of the most popular types of canvas work in the nineteenth century,
was a simple form of needlework that required little skill.Typically worked
on square mesh canvas in tent or cross stitch, designs were copied stitch by
stitch from printed patterns. The navy blue and cream-coloured pillow
cover is simple in design and done in a half-cross stitch, also known as a
Right: Navy blue and
cream-coloured pillow cover.
Around 1880.
1 -1
■   Ml
■■kft  ^SflL_                   ,,H[
3 *■         flaA   *--"--1
*7   1% \J
m ; ; 4fe-^
: iiix   -
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.35 No.4 half stitch. The floral motif is common for the
period and the central motif of larger pink flowers appears to have been worked in silk or chenille.The simplicity of the piece suggests that this
is the work of a young or inexperienced
In 1882 Kathleen travelled to England with
her mother and brother. Remaining in England
through 1885, Kathleen filled her days with social calls, attending exhibits, visiting museums, and
school.Through a series of letters Kathleen wrote
to and received from her mother in 1884 and
1885, it is possible to attribute the making of a
set of dessert doilies to Kathleen. "I should like a
set of d'oyleeys [sic] for dessert, white worked in
little figures or flowers in washing silk. It w[oul]d
be pretty work for you on some fine material—
the simpler the better! I want them to put under
rose coloured finger bowls at dessert," wrote her
mother.6 The result was a dozen square-shaped
doilies decorated with hand embroidered rose and
rosebuds, each in a different shade.7 Each is surrounded by a drawn thread fringe border and
finished with coordinating colours. The doilies
are attractive, simply but carefully worked in a
design consistent with the contemporary English Arts and Crafts movement.8
Several examples of Berlin wool slippers found
in the O'Reilly collection may have been made
by Kathleen.9 A pair of slipper forms is worked
on double mesh canvas.10 The floral motif is typical of what would have been available in ladies'
magazines and pattern books.A second pair of
slippers also exhibits a common motif: a pair of
seated dogs. Household pets were popular at this
time, in part due to the "Royal Dogs" kept and
much loved by Queen Victoria.11 The O'Reillys
kept dogs of many breeds, shown in a number of
surviving family photographs. It may, therefore,
be suggested that the slippers were intended to
represent the family's pet terriers and were perhaps a gift for a brother or even Kathleen's father.
Women often took sewing along to social
events such as parties and picnics. Long winter
nights and rainy days were often spent catching
up on a little sewing.This work was an opportunity for women to work together for charity or
for ladies'bazaars. A review of Kathleen O'Reilly's
letters and journals attests to her participation in
these activities.12 Kathleen's journal mentions
dressing dolls, possibly for Sunday school,13 and
even making the clothes herself. Kathleen and
her mother, Caroline O'Reilly, were active members of their ladies' church committee. Church
records from the Anglican Parish Magazine, document fundraising bazaars in British Columbia.14
Funds raised were substantial, often amounting
to hundreds of dollars. These funds helped support mission schools, the building of churches,
and other good causes.15
It is difficult to determine just how the individual makers of art needlework would have interpreted these womanly activities.   Kathleen
Left: Two of a set of 12
dessert doilies. Around
3 Six pairs of slipper forms
are included in the Point
Ellice Collection.
"Morris, Victorian
Embroidery, 22.
12 Kathleen writes in her
journal 26 January 1887,
"very stormy wet
morning I did some
sewing". Entries from
January and February
1887, describe sewing at
home while a friend
reads to her, or while
working alongside her
13 " I dressed a doll for
school treat" Friday 14
January 1887,AE OR3
14 Parish Magazine,
Anglican Diocese
Archives, Victoria.
15 The records show that in
September of 1884 the
magazine reports an
estimated cost of the
building of St. James
Church, inVictoria, to be
$2,500. By January of
1885, $900 was raised by
the ladies committee in
support of the costs of
the building of the
13 Right: Slipper forms with
a floral decoration and with
sitting dogs (detail).
16 8 November, year not
known. BC Archives.
17 Ann Romines, "Putting
Things in Order: The
Domestic Aesthetic of
Laura Ingalls Wilder's
Little House Books," in
The Material Culture of
Gender: The Gender of
Material Culture, eds.
Katharine Martinez and
Kenneth L. Ames
(Hanover and London:
University Press of New
England, 1997) 189.
18 Thomas J. Schlereth,
Material Culture:A
Research Guide
(University of Kansas
Press, 1985) 25.
O'Reilly's true feelings of bazaar work are suggested in a letter to her from D. Chesterfield in
which he wrote, "Oh no, you are not wicked. I
too hate bazaar sales of work!"16
Kathleen was schooled in other arts such as
watercolour painting and drawing. However,
while she painted at school and took lessons in
Naming the Artist
Womanly Arts from 19th Century
British Columbia
3-25 October 2002
Emily Carr House
207 Government Street, Victoria, BC
An exhibit presenting decorative and fine arts
created by women in colonial British Columbia.
Shown are the results of a year's work on a
research project on the womanly arts from
some of British Columbia's provincial historic
sites. The Womanly Arts Research Project has
another year to run with the final exhibit,
curated by Karen Finlay, to be held at the
Maltwood Gallery at the University of Victoria
in the fall of 2003.
For information on hours and admission,
lectures, seminars, and programs related to
the exhibit, please call 250.383.5843
drawing it is unclear if she continued this work.
She did consistently create needlework from
childhood to adulthood. Possibly needlework was
a continued artistic pursuit because it provided
Kathleen with a means of artistic freedom and
social activity within the acceptable separate
sphere of a Victorian woman.
Needle art is an important and revealing expression of the lives, thoughts and achievements
of local Victorian women. As one researcher, Ann
Romines, has noted, sewing, knitting, and art needlework are the soundless language of domestic
culture.17 While the examples described in this
paper may not have been "great art" created by
the "artist genius," they have significant historical value. Domestic works such as these are important as both art and artifact, and have been
too often overlooked because of their utilitarian
purpose and the anonymity of the makers. As
Thomas Schlereth stated: "the study ofthe unique
adds little to the sum understanding of human
behaviour. The study of the kinds of things used
[and made] by people during a given historical
period reveals a great deal about them."18 The
preliminary research conducted for this project
has brought to light notable collections of womanly arts by specific artists that are available for
more in depth research into the lives and accomplishments of women in the social context of
late nineteenth century Victoria. ^^
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.35 No.4 The St. Ann's Academy Art Studio
by Ayla Lepine
"Sic itur ad astra"
FROM its establishment in 1858 until its doors
closed to students in 1973, the motto of St.
Ann's Academy inVictoria was the Latin" sic
itur ad astra." The phrase, meaning "such is the
way to the stars," embodies the depth of investment on the part of the institution in the education of girls and young women in a diverse variety of subjects and disciplines. Not least the Academy was actively involved in art education and
was the centre of artistic activity inVictoria in the
late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
Although publications such as Edith Down's A
Century of Service give us a window into the history of St. Ann's, they do not reveal the central
role played by art education in its programs.1 It is
only from incidental references in local memoirs
and biographies that it is possible to piece together
the wide scope ofthe school's activities and influence in this sphere. Moreover, since most of the
documentation and surviving material relating to
the St. Ann's art studio is from the years between
1897 and 1935, the years when Sister Mary Osithe
was in charge ofthe art program, it is easy to asume
that she was the first art teacher at St. Ann's and
that no art education was given at the academy
prior to her arrival.2 In this paper, I will attempt
to trace the Academy's early art activity and place
Sister Osithe's contribution in a wider context.
In June of 1858, four Sisters of St. Ann having
travelled for weeks from the Motherhouse in
Lachine, Quebec, aboard the Seabird, landed at Fort
Victoria.3 They opened a convent and started a
school in a log cabin.Their intention was to provide education and spiritual direction for the colony's children.The sisters were not the first Christian order to arrive at the fledgling colony.4 The
mandate of the few clergy at FortVictoria was not
only to ensure the comfort and worship needs of
the colonists, but also to act as missionaries to the
First Nations people in the vicinity. The Sisters of
St. Ann were no exception, and included Aboriginal children in their programs.
Many in the Victoria settlement were keen to
enrol their children at the convent school. Dr. John
Sebastian Helmcken, a notable politician in the
Legislature and Victoria's only surgeon at the time,
enrolled Amy, his eldest daughter, in the convent
school immediately as it opened.5 A few months
later, he was called upon to treat the Mother Superior, and had to "trump up the courage, having
never before spoken to nuns, nor treated one."6
This marked the beginning of a strong friendship
between the Helmckens and the Sisters of St. Ann;
Edith "Dolly" was also soon attending the Academy. Others who attended St. Ann's over the following few decades were Rita McTavish, Amy
Helmcken's daughter in the 1890s, Martha Douglas, Edith's Helmcken's cousin, for a day or two in
the 1860s,7 and the McKenzie girls from Craigflower Mansion.
Above: The first convent
and schoolhouse.
1 Edith Down, SSA, A
Century of Service: The
Sisters of Saint Ann.
(Victoria: 1996, reprint
2 Christina Johnson-Dean
comments that the art
department was only
established in 1917 is
probably a typographical
error. Roberta Pazdro
asserts that there was no
art program at the
convent until until S.
Sophie Labelle's arrival
in 1871. Christina
Johnson-Dean," B. C.
Women Artists, 1885-
1920" in British Columbia
Women Artists: 1885-
1985 (Art Gallery of
Greater Victoria: 1985), p
12.  Roberta Pazdro,
'From Pastels to Chisel:
the Changing Role of
B.C. Women Artists," in
Not Just Pin Money:
Notes continue >>>
Left: A needlework piece
probably done by Edith
Helmcken as a student of
approximately 13 years.
15 Right: Farm scene. Pencil on paper,Rita McTavish,
Selected Essays on the History of Women's Work in British
Columbia, ed. Barbara K. Latham and Roberta J. Pazdrcr
(Victoria: Camosun College, 1984).
3Eunice MT. Harrisson. The Judge's Wife: Memoirs of a
British Columbia Pioneer. Ed. Jean Barman (Vancouver:
Ronsdale, 2002)
4 A letter from then Dean Edward Cridge to Sir James
Douglas, the governor of the colony and Chief Factor of
the HBC post indicates that a Catholic school was
running as early as 1856, and the Victoria District
Church, later to become Christ Church Cathedral, was
established in the same year. Anglican Diocese of British
Columbia Archives, box 317.
5 An indexed list print-out of all the girls who ever
attended the school shows "Emma Helmcken, 22 Fev
3 BC Archives, Ml
7 Horrified at seeing a student disciplined, 6-year-old
Martha didn't make it past her first day
3Margaret Cantwell, SSA, "Art Studio, St. Anne's
Academy, Victoria B.C." in Annals ofthe Community. July-
December 1994.
10 ASS A S35-6-9a.&.K
11 Marg Andrews. "The History and Early Development
of Art Education at St. Ann's Academy" UBC MA Ed.
Dept, 1978. p 3.
13 Mary Ann Eva, SAA, A History of the Sisters of St. Ann,
1850-1900. (NewYorkXintage, 1960) 25.
14 Cantwell, "Art Studio," 104
16 Turkey work—work of even, deep pile formed by
knotting wools on a canvas base, in imitation ofTurkey
carpets. Berlin work was a form of needlepoint which
was tremendously popular during Victorian times. The
work was stitched from charts and often in very bright
colours. Most of the cards came from Germany, hence
the name.
17 A copy of the Katie Jennings piece is at ASSA.
19 Volumes 1870-1880 are  held in the ASSA
20 S. Rose of Lima (Rosalinda Roy) fell ill and died
within a year of arriving inVictoria.
21 BC Archives, PDP05518-22; S. Osithe's camera and
photographic materials are catalogued in the ASSA.
Almost all of her work, like the other objects from the
St. Ann's collections, remains unseen and essentially
23 Pazdro, "From Pastels to Chisel," 112.
34 The ASSA collection includes a ledger kept by Sister
Osithe (S35-5-2) keeping track of lessons and kiln use
given to community members.
Judging from the 1858 syllabus visual arts were a priority. Even in the art
studio's meagre beginnings it was clear that the students were being encouraged to work with a variety of mediums and a number of different styles.The
core courses were reading, history, English, writing, and French, but also
"plain and ornamental needle and net work in all their different shapes."8
Students were given the opportunity to take lessons in drawing, at an additional cost of £1.50 per month. None of the founding Sisters could teach
art, and a lay teacher was hired.9 Two pieces, done by the McQuade sisters,
survive from this period and both are done with exceptional skill.10 One of
the mats, done by Anna McQuade in 1865, uses more than six different kinds
of needlework to achieve the desired overall effect. Both McQuade sisters
eventually took their vows at the convent.
In the 1860s several other convent schools were established on Vancouver
Island, and farther North and inland. New Westminster, Alaska, Nanaimo,
and Kuper Island were among the sites, but in her MA thesis Marg Andrews
explains that the emphasis on fine arts was specific to Victoria, and that the
arts department at the Academy was highly successful well before the turn of
the century.11 Little specifically is known about the development of the art
studio in these early decades, but the success of the school and its programs
can be measured by the necessity of an immense expansion including a
separate Novitiate wing for prospective sisters, and ample space for separate
classrooms and living quarters.
With the construction underway, the sisters decided to send for a nun
who would be able to take on the responsibility of teaching music and visual
arts.The motherhouse requested that Sister Marie Sophie (Antoinette Labelle),
lend her musical and artistic talents to the growing Victoria convent.12 Protesting that she'd never taken an art lesson in her life,13 she appears to have
been apprehensive at first. However, her work and the program's development during her stay suggest she had nothing to worry about.14 Under Sister
Labelle, the art program diversified and grew. The 1894 prospectus, released
the year before she left, boasts an oil painting component, charcoal, ink, and
pencil drawing, and "lessons in all kinds of plain and ornamental needlework,
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.35 No.4 knitting, embroidery, crochet, tapistry [sic], etc, etc,
are given free of charge."15 A watercolour of the
first St. Ann's convent school gives us an idea of
her style in that medium.
Sister Labelle would have been in charge of the
art department when Edith Helmcken went
through the Academy in the 1870s, and also when
her niece Rita McTavish followed twenty years
later. A needlework piece probably done by Edith
Helmcken recalls this period in St. Ann's history
(HH1988.1.221). It is a fairly large framed
Turkeywork or Berlinwork tapestry of a boy with
a flute or pipe surrounded by chickens.16 It is listed
as being from the 1880s or later, but I suspect it is
from no later than 1875. Dolly would have been
approximately 13, which seems young for such an
involved, detailed piece of work. However, another
identical piece was found recently in an American
curio shop, signed "KatieT. Jennings, Aged 13, St.
Ann's Convent. September 1 1874-July 10 1875"
thus suggesting the possibility that it was a set piece,
meant to be a class project or assignment for that
particular year, and that Edith Helmcken and Katie
Jennings were classmates.17
Nearly a generation later, with Sister Labelle
still in the art department, Rita McTavish completed a series of pencil and charcoal sketches.Two
triptychs hang in the halls of Helmcken House,18
and two more drawings, done in 1893, are on display in the St. Ann's Interpretive Centre parlour.
All of Rita McTavish's drawings deal with local
themes, with the possible exception of the farm
scene, which may have been copied from a lithograph or etching in one of the many volumes of
the British Art Journal kept by the art department.19
By the time the Lachine motherhouse asked Sister Sophie Labelle to return, she was responsible
for a thriving and popular art studio.
In 1897, Sister Mary Rose of Lima served briefly
as the art teacher20 She was was succeed by Sister
Mary Osithe (Elizabeth Labossiere). Sister Osithe
had trained extensively in Lachine under the tutelage of William Raphael, Edmund Dyonnet and
others, and came with the ability to both instruct
and practice in drawing from life, ceramics painting, needlework, as well as oil and watercolour
painting. During her three decades at the academy, she offered classes to the community, fostering a passion for art in students and other Victorians alike. The collections at BC Archives, the St.
Ann's Interpretive Centre, and the Sisters of St.
Ann Archives show Sister Osithe to have been a
versatile artist, and an avid photographer.21 The
1910s and 1920s were the height of the art department at St. Ann's. Prospectuses from this time
outline that there was also a student "St. Luke's Art
Society," much like an amateur art history group,
based on criticism and practice in the visual arts.22
Throughout her time at the art studio at St. Ann's,
Sister Osithe held yearly exhibitions of student
work, and several times had to hire extra teachers
to satisfy the demand for lessons in various art
While Sister Osithe's was exceptionally diverse
and sustained, it must not obscure the contributions of her predecessors nor the Academy's commitment to the art education of women from its
outset. The art instruction St. Ann's offered to its
students and to the wider community24 helped
shape the climate for art production inVictoria
for decades.^^
Above: St. Ann s convent
school. Watercolour on
paper, by S. Sophie
Labelle, c. 1872. Image
from Edith Down, SAA,
Century of Service. The
right part of the building
may well be the original
convent shown on page 15.
Below: St. Ann s in
1910. Handcoloured
17 Pretty in Pink
by Wendy Nichols
Centre: The bodice ofthe
pink gown of Goody
McKenzie. The bodice
seems unchanged but the
skirt (not shown) was
1 Maud C. Cooke. Social
Etiquette or Manners and
Customs of Polite Society.
(London, ON:
McDermid & Logan,
3 CF1968.508.
3 Craigflower Farm,
established in 1853, was
one of the four Vancouver
Island farms of the Puget
Sound Agricultural
Company which were
founded to meet the
Hudson Bay Company's
obligations to support
colonization. The site tells
the stories of the Bailiff
Kenneth McKenzie and
his family, as well as of the
labourers who worked
the farm.
4 Though the partnership
of Hall and Lowe was
dissolved in 1892, Lowe
continued to operate
under this name until the
turn of the century. David
Mattison. Camera Workers:
The British Columbia,
Alaska & Yukon
Photographic Directory,
5 CS1927.126.1 a-ac
3 Cooke, 416.
7 Kenneth McKenzie's
Daybook No. 5: 12 Sep
1863-9 Apr 1964, BC
Archives, MF 1394 13/1.
It is interesting to note
that dancing lessons
nearly doubled the price
of the schooling.
3 Nan DeBertand Lugrin.
Pioneer Women ofVancouver
Island. (VictoriaXhe
Women's Canadian Club
ofVictoria, 1928), 80.
Goodie McKenzie's Ballgown
Appearing to one's best advantage was integral
to the etiquette that played such a pervasive role
in the lives ofthe upper class ofVictorian times.
Dressing well was not only a matter of wearing
fashionable clothes, but included donning the
appropriate costume for the occasion, and selecting the colours and cut of dress that flattered one's figure and complexion the best.1 For
this reason, women put much time and careful
thought into their appearances, and it is thus
that dress falls under the "womanly arts." The
following analysis of
a ball gown is one of
three to be carried
out on gowns held in
the collections ofthe
Victoria area historical sites. The goal of
this project is to shed
light on the reality of
the art of dress of upper class women in
late-nineteenth-century Victoria.
Goodie's pink ball
gown2 is held in the
collection at Craigflower Farm.3 Goodie McKenzie (1852-1928),
whose given name was Wilhelmina, was the
youngest daughter of Kenneth McKenzie, the
Bailiff of Craigflower Farm.The dress is referred
to as Goodie's as there is conclusive evidence,
in the nature of a photograph, that it was worn
by her.
The gown that remains today, however, is not
entirely in the same form as the gown in the
portrait The bodice is quite recognizable as the
same, but the skirt has been restyied from the
1880s bustle effect seen in the photograph, to
the 1900s A-line ofthe extant garment.
It is exciting that both the gown and the photograph have survived, as each uncovers something about the other.The dress reveals the brilliant pink silk brocade from which it was made
and the skill with which it was manufactured,
while the portrait illustrates how the costume
looked on the body and the choice of fashionable accessories with which it was worn. We
know also from the portrait that Goodie was in
her mid thirties when she wore this gown in its
original form. Moreover, the fact that both the
portrait and the altered dress have survived reveals that the McKenzies participated in the historical custom of prolonging the use of a garment through extensive alterations. Goodie
would have been in her early fifties by the time
the alterations to her ball gown were made. It is
impressive that she may have kept her youthful
figure for so long that
she could have fitted
into the 2 2 V2" waist of
the bodice at this age,
or perhaps the altered
gown was worn by a
younger relation.
The cut of Goodie's
pink gown, in its
original form, can
safely be dated to the
1880s. This is supported by the fact
that Hall and Lowe,
the photographic studio where Goodie's
portrait was taken, set
up shop inVictoria in 1884 or 1885.4 In addition, issues of PheYoung Ladies Journal from 1883
to 1885, which are held in the collection at
Craigflower Farm and are identified in Goodie's
hand as her own, describe many characteristics
of fashionable formal attire that also apply to
Goodie's dress.5
In this analysis, Goodie's dress has been referred to as a ball gown. Whether it is in fact a
ball gown or an evening dress, a reception gown
or a dinner gown, is difficult for the twenty-
first century eye to discern. All could be low
necked, trained and have minimal sleeves. Ball
gowns however, were worn with the lowest
decolletage and were less likely to have trains,
for "where much dancing is to be indulged in,
trains are very much in the way."6
In addition to the physical features of Goodie's
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.35 No.4 pink gown that point in the direction of a ball
gown, there are several clues to Goodie's life
that support this conclusion. It is recorded, for
example, that Goodie and her sister Dorothea
were taking dancing lessons at Ladies Collegiate
in 1864.7 They may well have been attending
balls by this age for, due to the shortage of
women in the Colony, the desire for female
dance partners was particularly keen. Though
their mother had been reluctant to let them go,
the two eldest McKenzie girls, Jessie and Agnes,
had been only ten and eleven when they attended their first ball, owing to the persuasive
abilities of the officers of the Royal Navy.8
As Bailiff of Craigflower Farm, Agent and Superintendent of the Agricultural Company on
Vancouver Island, Magistrate, and Justice of the
Peace, Kenneth McKenzie and his family moved
amongst the upper classes.The popularity of balls
in the social scene of early Victoria has been
recounted many times.9 The significance that attending balls played in the lives of the McKenzies
is evidenced in a collection of invitations, which
they saved. 10The collection of roughly 35 invitations spans the years 1866-1895. About half
the invitations are to events hosted by the Royal
Navy, while others include occasions at Government House, the Alhambra Room, the Philharmonic, and private "at homes."
In Pioneer Women ofVancouver Island, Goodie
is said to have been "as lovely as a Greek goddess and the belle of many a ball."11 This is not
difficult to imagine when we view her beautifully beaded pink gown and photograph. Goodie
appears in the portrait to have had dark hair
and was likely able to carry off such a strong
colour to her advantage. As well, Goodie's gown
shows off her small waist and well rounded bust
that were the ideals of beauty in this period.
Even the plumpness of her arms was considered an attractive attribute.12 Her full back, an
effect created by a bustle worn under the skirt
is a further enhancement to her beauty in the
eyes of her contemporaries. Also, Goodie took
care to wear her stylishly cut gown with the
most fashionable accessories, including long
gloves and a fan.
Looking at Goodie McKenzie in her gown,
and bearing in mind the circumstances of her
family and background discussed above, it appears that she definitely was proficient in the
womanly art of dress.^^
Above: Wilhelmina A. Blair (Goody) McKenzie in her pink bail gown.
3 For example.Valerie Green, Above Stairs: Social Life in Upper Class Victoria 1843-1918.
(Victoria: Sono Nis Press, 1995), 126.
10 Invitations 1866-1895, McKenzie Family Papers, BC Archives, MF1481 8/11.
11 Lugrin, 81
12 Sarah Levitt. Fashion in Photographs: 1880-1900 (London: BT Batsford, 1991), 73.
19 Unravelling the Past
by Rachel Edwards
Right: Embroidery room.
All Hallows, Ditchingham,
1 Student in All Hallows in
the West, Christmas 1901.
3 For more about All
Hallows school: Jean
Barman, "Lost
Opportunity: All Hallows
School for Indian and
White Girls 1884-1920."
in BC Historical News, 22:
2, Spring 1989 and Vera
Bennett, "All Hallows
School." in Okanagan
Historical Society Report, v.
24. 1960. <http://
3 The Churchman s Gazette,
New Westminster, August
1891 vol. XI, no. 4, 842
and Ibid., September
1891 5,859.
4 Ibid,August 1891vol.
XI, no. 4, p.842.
5 All Hallows in the West,
Christmas 1901.
Below: Sisters of Ail
Hallows school in Yale,
A History of the Church Linens of
St. John the Divine and the Embroiderers of All Hallows School
Many of the details of work done, lessons
learnt, worship offered seem very small and insignificant, and some, like the finest stitches in
embroidery, are all but invisible, yet one little
stitch being out of place or out of proportion
somewhat mars the effect of the whole.1
In the late nineteenth century, church linens were
in high demand for decorating churches in British Columbia. The history of these textiles, their
provenance, and their creation is largely undocumented. This is the case with the collection of
liturgical textiles at the church of St. John the Divine in Yale.The now de-sanctified church, originally in the New Westminster Diocese, is over 140
years old. For many years its small, damp vestry
housed over a hundred hand-made embroidered
pieces, some of which are exceptional. Archival
records show that societies and guilds in England
supplied many of the churches in British Columbia with money, furniture, and vestments.The St.
John's collection might be of less interest to British Columbia historians were it made entirely in
England, but Yale appears to have far fewer embroidered vestments, frontals, and other works
made in England than other area churches. How
could Yale, a rough, developing town filled with
CPR workers and gold diggers, and home to few
European needlewomen, have created the elegant
pieces in the collection? The answer may be All
Hallows School.
Yale was home to a girls' boarding school called
All Hallows, under the direction of several Anglican nuns from All Hallows, Ditchingham, England, a convent that had an internationally respected school for ladies' ecclesiastical embroidery, founded in 1854.Three nuns were sent to
Yale in 1884 to establish a mission school for the
Native children ofthe area. Enrolment lists show
that also a few white students attended in the
early years. In November 1890, a new "Indian
School House" was completed effectively separating the Native and white students both in
schooling and boarding. White enrolment increased thereafter.2
While both the Native and the white students
were taught needlework at All Hallows school,
the purpose differed.The white pupils were educated to be "refined Christian gentlewomen"3
while the First Nations students were taught "a
good English elementary education, in addition
to training in housework generally."4
Aside from being part ofthe curriculum, needlework was also a social activity for the white
girls at the boarding school. In 1894, a group of
girls, presumably non-Native, formed a society
called the Guild ofthe Holy Child. After 1895,
the guild's existence is not mentioned again until 1901 when an article appeared in the school
newspaper entitled "The Story of a Piece of
Embroidery."The text narrates the story of a frontal that had been started in 1896 but was left unfinished for several years. The article describes
how the piece, meant for the altar at the Agassiz
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.35 No.4 church, was taken up again and carried to England by a student as she travelled for her summer
break. In her Norfolk home and the nearby
Ditchingham convent, she continued the work
begun in Yale:
How very kindly the Sisters helped, entering
with loving interest into that tangible little bit
of foreign mission work...Then again on the
Atlantic, on the return journey, fellow-passengers with skilled fingers contributed their mite
[sic] to the great design...patient fingers
worked on at chain stitch, satin stitch, French
embroidery stitch, and long lines of plain neat
hemming, until in course of time grapes and
vine-leaves, corn and scrolls, took shape and
form, and the whole work was nearly
done...Two ofthe girls from the Indian school,
who are not members of this Guild, offered
their services in pulling out threads for hem
stitching. Every needle-woman knows how
hard it is to draw threads in long unbroken
lines in fine linen. How much patience and
skill it requires, such a firm and delicate touch,
such keen clear sight.5
The frontal, now missing, is evidence of a collaborative work not only among the white students but also among the Sisters in England, passengers on a transatlantic steamer, and most remarkably perhaps, between the European and Native girls. Although according to the article, the
First Nations girls were given the rather menial
task of pulling threads,
their work was nonetheless acknowledged
as essential and skilled.
When looking at
the St. John the Divine
collection, several factors further counter
the idea of England as
the primary source for
the Yale textiles. While
the quality of some of
the work is exceptional, other pieces are
quite obviously a beginner's work, indicating the school's involvement. One piece
in particular, the Agnus
Dei, or Lamb of God
banner,6 suggests that
the school was a major
producer of textiles for
St. John the Divine.
The central lamb is
quite well done and
probably the work of a teacher.The surrounding
pieces, while attached to look like one complete
piece, are in fact appliques done by several different hands and then attached. The banner seems
Above: Church of Saint
John the Divine in Yale.
3 Yale 1996.1.28. See
image on page 22.
Left: Sisters and pupils at
All Hallows school, 1901.
21 Above: Interior of St.
John s Anglican Church in
Yale. ca. 1893. The church
dressed for a special
occasion with its best
liturgical textiles and bows
of flowers.
7BC Archives D-07830
3 Yale 1996.1.22 See image
on page 26.
3 Information from Mrs.
Chrane comes from an
oral interview in
December 2001 and a
letter written in March
to be the result of several students working under a teacher, who then pieced the elements together to create a completed work for the local
church. That this was indeed made for St. John's
is affirmed by the colour and imagery ofthe piece.
The turquoise fabric used in the banner is also
found in a stole with the same lamb image and a
turquoise backing, suggesting that this was made
to match another item. A photograph of St. John's,
Yale from 1893 shows the altar draped in what looks
like this frontal and two grapevine-embroidered
hangings that are also part ofthe collection.7
Another banner in the collection is expertly
made and trimmed with a European silk-satin
ribbon8 The banner is elegantly executed; however, one leaf in the intricate pattern is a slightly
different colour from the others. If this piece were
made in England, the embroiderer would have
had access to more thread of the original colour,
had she run out. However, in Yale, the chances of
finding matching thread would have been slim.
The backing of the piece is red serge: the same
fabric was used to make the uniforms for the
Native students, and is found on at least four other
pieces in the collection.
All Hallows closed in 1920 and few if any students are still alive. However, several descendants
remember their mothers or grandmothers speaking of the school and of needlework. Joan
(Crawford) Vogstad, the granddaughter of former
student Ambie McRae, said:
I remember my grandmother talking about
going to school at All Hallows. Grandmother
said that is was a school where they went to
learn how to be young ladies. Part of their
training was to sit in the afternoon and do
needlework—which went to the church.
Another descendant of an All Hallows student
remembers differently. Clare Chrane is the granddaughter of Clara Clare, a prominent member of
the Yale community and St. John the Divine
Church. She commented,
...the Church linens originally came from All
Hallows, Ditchingham, England, made by the
Nuns there. ...At various times, I would go
with her to inspect the linen.. .If the need
arose, she would take these items home to repair. She always did the work herself and it
was very fine.9
Clare Chrane s account would suggest that the
collection came from England with only repairs
being done in Canada. However, race provides a
possible explanation for these two differing accounts; Ambie McRae was a white student and
Clara Clare was a Native student. Perhaps the
accounts of their granddaughters differ because
the groups were so separated: the Native students
may not have known that the white girls were
making textiles for the church under the tutelage of the nuns.
Although no definite conclusion can be drawn,
students at All Hallows seem to have been the
creators of at least part of the collection. While
many pieces are impressive from an aesthetic point
of view, they are primarily invaluable as a part of
British Columbia's past.The All Hallows students
engaged in one of the most common and most
anonymous art forms, yet through their ecclesiastic embroidery, they managed to leave a part of
their history and culture in the collection of St.
John the Divine. ^^
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.35 No.4 Yale's Ecclesiastical Textiles
by Natasha Slik
THE Church of Saint John the
Divine in Yale was consecrated in 1863.'
As other Anglican churches, Yale's church
required furnishings, including banners, altar
frontals and frontlets, as well as burses and corporals. Many of these are now part of the Yale ecclesiastical textile collection. What is the provenance
of these textiles?
In general the ecclesiastical embroidery in Yale
shows consistency with the symbolism found in
England during the Gothic Revival, but there are
some absences, such as figural work and heraldry,
themes that were common in English Victorian
ecclesiastical embroidery.2
Rachel Edwards suggests in this issue, that the
Yale collection supports the hypothesis that many
of the pieces were made by the girls and teachers
at All Hallows School in Yale. Some of the Yale
eclesiastical textiles show that they probably were
made locally—partly by beginning embroiderers.
Students at All Hallows School would be such
beginners.Following is a brief review of some of
the pieces in the collection.
Lamb of God Altar Frontal
Yale 1996.1.28.
This frontal, also mentioned in Rachel Edward's
paper, is of particular significance because it was
probably worked on by a number of different
needleworkers of varying skill levels. The lamb in
the centre was obviously done by someone with a
great deal of needlework experience and expertise, as the condition remains excellent, and the
stitching is complex. The background is laid and
couched work, with loosely attached threads and
inconsistent, widely spaced couching stitches, and
likely done by an amateur.The Lamb and the blue
background are surrounded with four flowers and
four fleurs-de-lis, which have been appliqued
around the outside ofthe central piece. Again, there
are different levels of workmanship in the embroidery. While some ofthe flowers are delicately
and beautifully embroidered, others are decidedly
childlike.The fleurs-de-lis are decorated with cross-
hatched laid work, a characteristic stitch of the
nuns of All Hallows embroidery.4 It seems likely
that this piece was made by several students of All
Hallows School who were at different stages in
their needlework education, along with either an
advanced student, or a teacher. In this way, each
child had an opportunity to practise her skills and
to contribute to the work.
Red IHS Banner
Yale 1996.1.3.
This red banner, decorated with white flowers,
bears a small, lower case IHS appliqued in red felt
in the centre of a white cross. In the early Church,
the letters IHS were the short form of IHOUS,
"Jesus" in Greek.5The IHS monogram slowly re-
HistoricYale. (Vancouver:
Vancouver Section
British Columbia
Historical Association,
Mary Schoeser. The Watts
Book of Embroidery:
English Church Embroidery
1833-1953 (London:
Watts & Co. 1998)
Yale 1996.1.28.
Lamb of God Altar
23 Centre:
Yale 1996.1.3
Red IHS Banner.
3 Anthea Callen, Angel in
the Studio, Women in the
Arts and Crafts Movements,
1870-1914 (London:
Astragal, 1997) 103.
4 Schoeser. The Watts Book
of Embroidery, 101.
5 Mrs. Henry Jenner,
Christian Symbolism
(London: Methuen &
Co. Ltd., 1910) 36.
3 F. Edward Hulme,
Symbolism in Christian
Art: The History, Principles
and Practice (London:
Swan Sonnenschein &
Co., 1909) 52.
placed the XP symbol in the Greek Church and
quickly became adopted by the Latin Church. After becoming common use in the Latin Church,
the letters often also took on the meaning of Ihous
Hominum Salvator, or "Jesus, Saviour of men. 6 With
the shift of the English church into the vernacular,
it is not surprising that a purely English meaning
for these letters was also
developed. "In His
Service" can also be
given as the meaning of
the IHS monogram.
burse and
Corporal Set
Yale 996.1.95 a&b, not
This set illustrates the
fineness of work that
seems characteristic of
burses and corporals in
the Anglican Victorian
tradition. Gold wire is
used for the crown of
thorns, and the red silk
embroidered HIS has
been padded and is outlined in gold. As with
the other burses and
corporals, this suggests
that they were probably U
made abroad, and sent
to British Columbia as used pieces rather than
when they were new. In addition, interwoven IHS
symbols appear on a baptismal font and on an
altar chair (Yale 1996.1.0070 andYale 1996.1.0063,
not shown).
White Wall Hanging
Yale 1996.1.41 a & b-not shown.
The cross on this hanging is done in green ribbon, decorated with seven appliqued flowers and
may possibly have been done as a student sampler.
Each flower is different both in design and execution, making it likely that different people made
them.These could easily have been sample pieces,
done by students learning embroidery, and then
applied to the banner. These flowers "samplers"
bear close resemblance to the four flowers applied
to the "Lamb of God" banner discussed earlier.
None of the flowers on the white wall hanging
are identical, and some of them do not even have
the same number of petals. Often they are asymmetrical and amateurishly embroidered, adding
credibility to the theory that they were student-
Red Altar Frontal
Yale 1996.1.22
This red altar frontal with its applied golden brown
panels and cross in the centre, decorated with small
six-petalled flowers, was clearly designed and completed by a very accomplished embroiderer.All
of the embroidery is
done directly on the
fabric. Although it
shows perfection in the
embroidery, one single
leaf has been embroidered in a different
shade of green. This
suggests that, upon running out of thread, the
artist either could not
afford to buy more of
the same shade, or none
was available. This suggests that the piece was
not made in an area
where embroidery floss
was readily available,
such as in British Columbia. Unfortunately,
it is impossible to tell for
certain that this piece
was made in Yale, as these circumstances could certainly also describe other areas. Flowers were undoubtedly considered an appropriate motif for ecclesiastical embroidery, both in England and in
Canada. In addition to displaying medieval roots,
they were easy to design or copy from published
Altar Frontal with Fringe
Yale 1996.1.51.
Most Victorian trims were being made by machine, while the medieval trims were of course,
handmade.This altar frontal does, however, have a
handmade tri-coloured inkle-woven fringe. This
is of particular interest, because at the start of the
weaving the work is poor, as though it was the
first attempt at this craft made by the artist. As the
weaving progresses, it improves greatly, finishing
with a tight and even tension, and is very well
done. Either the weaver improved over the length
ofthe fringe, or a more accomplished weaver took
over the weaving partway through. ^^
Yale 1996.1.97,98,99.
The embroidery on the
bookmark on the right—
an orange cross on a piece
of purple scrap piece—is
the work of a beginning
Yale 1996.1.51
Altar frontal with fringe.
The start of the weaving of
the fringe is poor, as though
it was the first attempt at
this craft made by the
artist. As the weaving
progresses, it improves
greatly, finishing with a
tight and even tension, and
is very well done.
Yale 1996.1.22.
Red altar frontal with its
applied golden brown
panels and cross in the
centre, decorated with small
six-petalled flowers.
25 How Shall I Frame Myself?
by Liberty Walton
1 Terry Reksten, More
English than the English
(Victoria BC: Orca Book
Publishing, 1986), 71
An investigation into the Act of
Self-Representation in Front of
the Camera
Charlotte Kathleen O'Reilly (1867-1945) ofVictoria, British Columbia, was the most beloved
daughter of Peter and Caroline O'Reilly. She held
her home and family closer to her heart than any
of her many social affairs. Embracing her British
roots, she accepted the traditions imposed upon
her by her family, yet exemplified the lifestyle patterns and choices of a first-generation Canadian.
Kathleen was not only photographed in several
international professional studios, but also by her
brother, the amateur photographer in the family.
He used a Kodak camera that is still in the collection at Point Ellice House Historic site. Although
Kathleen visited England several times and travelled internationally, she never abandoned Point
Ellice and her home. To examine Kathleen
O'Reilly's self-representation in front ofthe camera, it is the sizable collection of archival photographs in the O'Reilly collection at Point Ellice
House and the BC Archives that are deconstructed
in this paper to reveal her personal choices, influences, and values.
Home to the pioneerVictoria family of British
heritage, Point Ellice House contains a wealth of
two-dimensional documentary sources. Much of
this material relates specifically to the life of
Kathleen O'Reilly: prints and paintings, photographs, both unmounted and in frames; some diaries, letters, notebooks; accounts and bills; invitations, calling cards, programs for dances, regattas,
and concerts; books of various kinds.This collection covers Kathleen's lifespan from 1867 to 1945.
Point Ellice existed as a place for social gathering
and as the home of Peter and Caroline O'Reilly
with their four children. Peter O'Reilly immigrated to Canada from Ireland, and arrived inVictoria, where he was given his first appointment
from Governor James Douglas. In the early 1860s,
Caroline Trutch moved from England to Victoria,
where she met Peter and married him in 1863.
Eighteen hundred and sixty-seven was a momentous year for the O'Reilly family, including the
birth of their second child, Kathleen O'Reilly,
and the move into Point Ellice House.
There are over fifty photographs of Kathleen
O'Reilly. They are in the collections of the BC
Archives and Point Ellice House Historic site.
Nearly 30 of those were taken in a studio, while
the others were taken by an amateur photographer and can be considered snapshots. In this paper, the studio photographs and five of the amateur photographs will be analyzed in chronological order and used to discuss how Kathleen chose
to use photography as a form of personal expression.
The photograph became the universal language
of information about 150 years ago with the initial development of photography. Since then, photographic images and changing technology have
been seriously examined under the academic eye.
The art-historical analysis of discussing subject
matter, stylistic trends, provenance of the image,
and role of the photographer can be applied to
the entire collection of Kathleen O'Reilly's studio images. This analysis will illustrate photography's important role within the humanities and
the study of womanly arts.The study of domestic
imagery, as well as the Victorian use of romanticism within social history, is appropriate to this
Studio photographs are especially informative
pieces of documentary evidence. On the mounted
photographs, the name of the photographer, often with the address, helps to establish the date of
the image. With the invention of the camera in
1839 came the development ofthe profession of
the studio photographer, with its complexity of
tripods, black cloths, glass plate negatives, special
backdrops, darkrooms and a cocktail of chemicals. In the studio photograph, however, is presented an image created by both the studio photographer and the subject. In the Kathleen
O'Reilly images, one can trace her growing self-
expression from childhood to adulthood, in her
choice of dress, posture, and props. Each of the
background props, personal ornaments, facial expression, and body posture places Kathleen in a
romanticized environment, showing the influence
of a British, Victorian culture.
Around the year 1870, Kathleen is presented
for the first time in front of the camera. Even at a
very young age, Kathleen is shown in her Sunday
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.35 No.4 best at an unknown, yet professional studio, likely
in the Victoria area. Typical even today, this baby
portrait, HP 50070, is an example of parental concerns and values for the appearance of their daughter. This image sets the stage for the role photography was to play in Kathleen's life, and exemplifies the value her parents placed on the act of
photographing their daughter. With a lace shawl
tied at the neck, over a dress adorned with rosebuds, her face is framed with perfectly sweet curls,
the epitome of innocence. Her innocence
was to become an underlining thread in all
of her studio portraits.
Children were a rarity in Victoria during
the year 1867, as this
was only a decade since
the fur traders' outpost
expanded to become a
town supplying miners
heading to the Cariboo
gold rush. In 1865, the
population dropped
from 8,000 to 3,500.'
This decline in population and  business
meant the colony of
Vancouver Island could   =
no longer survive on its   £
own and was annexed   |
with the mainland, in   ^
an Act passed by Oueen
Victoria in the year
1866. This Act, which had significant impact on
the development ofVictoria, was passed only a
year before Kathleen was born.
In 1871, four years after Kathleen's birth, the
English colony of British Columbia entered the
four-year-old Dominion of Canada and Victoria
was officially designated status as the capital of
British Columbia. As Kathleen grew, so did the
city. While the political unification of this British
territory in continental North America led to stable prospects in the city, Kathleen left her toddler
years and entered her childhood. Victoria, more
than any other place in the Canadian west, embodied the English and Victorian ideals of class
structure and proper behaviour.2 Kathleen in all
of her innocence and youth mirrored these ideals
and reflected the city's growth.
At age ten, in 1877, Kathleen is presented again
in her best, a dress with similarly jagged detailing
at the collar and cuffs. The style of her dress is
Victorian, emphasized with a double band at the
bottom ofthe skirt.Taken at the studio of Stephen
Allen Spencer, this photograph, HP 23057, is evidence that the O'Reilly family saw several advantages to commissioning professional portraits
of Kathleen. The act of preserving an image of
their daughter, and by utilizing a professional studio, was a sign of wealth. Not all people inVictoria could afford the costs
of photographing their
children, especially on
such a regular basis. By
exploiting their wealth
in   such   a   fashion,
Caroline      O'Reilly
would have seen photography an opportunity
to secure their position
within the upper classes.
Portraits were sent back
to family and friends in
the  homeland,   constantly announcing the
O'Reillys' financial success and the growth of
their family.
With the dedication
"For dear Uncle Joe"
written on the back of
the photograph, this
likely was a gift to Joseph
Trutch, Caroline's
brother. Caroline would
have distributed copies of this image to family
members inVictoria and the British Isles. Only a
year after the death of Kathleen's sister, Mary
Augusta, the O'Reilly family inVictoria would
still be receiving condolences from family abroad.
This image would have been sent to comfort distant relatives, as a sign of hope and survival during the harsh years of Kathleen's early life in Canada's wild west. Until the time of this photograph,
a daughter of the Crease family personally tutored Kathleen. In 1878, at age eleven, she attended Angela College, an Anglican college on
Burdett Street in Victoria. Combined with the
death of her sister and start of formal studies,
Kathleen would have received considerable attention at this time in her life as the only remaining daughter of the family. Even her wardrobe
would have received extra attention.3
Left: HP-23057.
Kathleen O'Reilly, 1877.
Studio portrait shows
Kathleen as a young girl,
age ten, sitting on a chair,
hands folded and resting
on chair arm. Studio of
S. A. Spencer, Victoria.
2 Rosemary Neering, Wild
West Women: Tra vels,
Adventures, and Rebels
(Vancouver: Whitecap
Books, 2000), 97
3Virginia Careless,
Responding to Fashion -
The Clothing of the
O'Reilly Family, (Victoria:
Royal British Columbia
Museum, 1993) 7
27 1 Cathy Converse,
Mainstays - Women Who
Shaped BC (Victoria:
Horsdal & Shubert,
1998) 64
Several O'Reilly family photographs were taken
in the Fort Street studio of S.A. Spencer, one of
the prominent Victoria area photographers that
made a start in 1858 with the Cariboo gold rush
boom and increased business operations. Ending
his studio work in 1885, Spencer had advertised
as a "daguerrian artist," a reflection upon British
photographic traditions. Apart from this image,
two of Kathleen's siblings, Mary Augusta and
Arthur Jack, were photographed at the Spencer
studio. All of the children were propped against a
two-tiered stripped stool, used to steady them for
the length of exposure. HP 50003 is a constructed
image, using settings, props and practical costume
for a formal pose and presentation. Below
Kathleen's skirt, and to either side of her feet, is
the thick base for an instrument used to support
her position. This instrument would have been
clamped to the back of her neck or at the back of
her waist. Props, such as this stool, were used in
the studio portraits of children, not by choice,
but in order to keep the children from moving.
The development of studio photography also
affected the changing role of women, as photography was now more accessible for the amateur.
Women, who in Victorian times were not expected to have a profession or succeed at endeavours outside of the home, found in this new medium a way in which they could employ their
creative talents.4 One of Victoria's ninetheenth-
century studio photographers was Hannah
Hannah began to photograph residents of the
Victoria area shortly after her arrival from eastern
Canada. She was popularly known for photographing children, in a series of "little gems.'These
served as images for New Year's greetings between
the years 1885 to 1899. Hannah is known for her
non-traditional approach to photography, cutting
out images of children and placing them onto
new backgrounds. She also experimented with
multiple exposures in composite images, reproducing herself in triplicate on one image. Hannah's
vision was never truly embraced by the O'Reilly
family, as only one known studio image by her
exists in the O'Reilly photo collections: a cutout of Arthur imposed onto an image ofthe Gorge
Hannah's work has won her acclaimed status
in the history of women's photography. But during the Victorian era, several contemporaries
would have frowned upon her non-traditional
approach and may have viewed her as an eccen
tric. Other Victoria area photographers, such as
S.A. Spencer, relied upon traditional approaches
of presenting the subject to the camera, providing the client with a photograph rooted in British practices of photography.
The O'Reilly decision to remain a client of
the S.A. Spencer studio is an example of the influence on Kathleen's perspective and her continued choice to embrace the traditions of her
British past.
At age 15, in 1882, Caroline took Kathleen to
London to enroll her in an appropriate finishing
school. En route they visited San Francisco where
these images of Kathleen and Caroline were photographed in the Taber studio. Kathleen returns
to this studio in the future, showing her satisfaction with the results of the images.
At the Taber Studio, Kathleen is photographed
in two different dresses against two different backdrops, both at one sitting. Both dresses are simplistic in line, with a high collar, while detailed at
the collar and cuffs. Consisting of a heavier, practical fabric, the dresses could have been worn to
formal affairs. In both images, Kathleen's thick,
dark hair is smartly tied back with a bow, while a
pendant hangs from her neck.
Also at this studio visit, Caroline is photographed against both backdrops, although she faces
the opposite direction of her daughter. The line
of her dress echoes the line of her daughter's dress,
as do the severity of facial expressions. Caroline's
dress is Victorian and slightly bustled in the back.
The same simply beaded earrings and necklace,
as well as the neat hairstyle underneath a tightly
fitting hat, appear in both images.
Both images of mother and daughter are conservative, containing similar stylistic elements of
hairstyle and dress.These similarities show Caroline's desire to present both herself and Kathleen
in an orderly fashion. Even the choice of darker
fabrics is an indication of Caroline's intervention,
as she often chose darker fabrics for her dress. Such
maternal choices made on her daughter's behalf
would have been the greatest source of influence
on Kathleen's life at this time.
These images are very orderly in nature, which
is reflected not only by the maternal choice of
clothing and tidy hairstyle but also by the photographer's choice of backdrop and props. When
Caroline selected this studio, she would have investigated the quality of final images, the photographer's style, and perhaps the studio props. In one
image, HP 50072, the photographer has selected
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.35 No.4 a backdrop painting of an arch, while the backdrop in photograph HP-23055 is of an ornate
pillar and low riser. Both backdrops are reminiscent of architectural types, used to create an institutional and orderly setting. In HP-23055
Kathleen leans against the pillar, an unwavering
symbol of good order on a stable foundation, all
ofthe same ideals Caroline invested in her daughter.
Two of Kathleen's personal items are brought
into these photographs, a basket and a pendant.
While holding the backrest of a wooden chair,
she is clutching a simple, woven basket. Of particular interest is the pendant, which appears in
both photographs, possibly a personal item with
sentimental attachment.
In London of 1883,
the photograph studio
of W & D. Downey
billed themselves as
"Photographers by
Special Appointment
to Her Majesty the
Queen." This studio
may have been personally selected by
Kathleen, or as instructed by her family.
"You must have your
photo taken before
long, not an expensive
one until we see how
we like it."5This choice
of photographer ensured the subject would
be presented in accordance with the upper-
class social norms.
At the studio of W
& D. Downey, photographs taken of
Kathleen present her in
a bust portrait, as well
as two three-quarter-
length portraits. There
is a remarkable difference between the image of a young girl
taken one year earlier
in San Francisco and
the image of a young
lady captured in these
photographs taken at W
& D. Downey.These portraits are the first indication of Kathleen's attention to current trends, following the fashions best suited for a young lady,
leaving behind her childhood image. In short, they
show Kathleen's transition from a girl into adulthood.
From age fifteen until eighteen, Kathleen attended Lady Murray's Finishing School in London. Here, she would have been educated on the
most fashionable clothing and hairstyles for the
time. In keeping with these fashions, this school
instructed Kathleen to wear a corset, which shaped
a feminine waist, complementing the cut of her
dress.The action of wearing fashionable clothing
to a studio sitting was similar to the social events
Kathleen attended. Choice of clothing is influ-
Left: HP-50072.
Kathleen O'Reilly, 1882,
at age fifteen, Taber Studio,
San Francisco.
5 Peter O'Reilly to
Kathleen O'Reilly
Victoria, 11 November
1896. O'Reilly letters,
BC Archives, p.2
29 Right: HP-50095
Romantic imagery and
responding to fashion.
Kathleen O'Reilly, age 16,
1883. W.&D.Downey,
Photographers by Special
Appointment to Her
Majesty the Queen,
London, England.
0 Careless, Responding to
Fashion, 4
7 Ibid., 26
3 Magazine from the Point
Ellice House collection.
enced by the occasion
at which it is worn and
by the type of people
with whom the wearer
Influenced by her
mother, as well as by her
peers, school, and society, the clothing in these
images indicates that
Kathleen's choice of a
fashion is very closely
linked to her personal
considerations of social
status, and her response
to socially dictated
As seen in the bust
portrait, HP 50077, she
continues to neatly turn
back her hair, always secured into place, adopting a hairstyle that is in
keeping with current
trends, as illustrated in
Lady's Pictorial dated 21
February 1891.8 HP
50095 is also the first
image of Kathleen in a
hat, which is elaborately
feathered. Although
similar to the hat worn
by Caroline in the Taber
Studio photograph, it is
likely this choice was a
personal statement attending contemporary fashion rather than an influence of maternal concerns. The parasol is indicative of another personal choice made by
Kathleen, an elaborate and fashionable substitute
for the simple woven basket selected a year earlier.
These images not only provide documentary
evidence of Kathleen's life and her growing self-
expression; as portraits they also display an artificial romanticism—a philosophy that encouraged
certain viewpoints as a way of seeing. The backdrop selected by the photographer is a painted
garden scene, while Kathleen, wearing a tea gown,
stands holding an outdoor parasol. This photographer has presented Kathleen in the romantic,
complementing not only her personal concerns,
but also her outward appearance. Studio settings
were most likely decided by the photographer,
who would have crafted the pastoral scenes and
staged interiors, such as these. These elements are
somewhat reminiscent of the surroundings at
Point Ellice and the dress she would have worn at
home. In the studio photographs of Kathleen, she
is portrayed in conventional images within a romantic environment. Kathleen has become subject to the construction ofthe image by the photographer. The romantic props and backdrops,
combined with posture, facial expressions, and
personal dress, concrete her role as a conventional
young woman in Victorian society. Kathleen has
embraced this romanticism in her own dress and
Romanticism is an alternative to realism. Romance is said to focus in dreams rather than real-
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.35 No.4 ity, its creators interested in the internal rather
than the external lives of their subjects.9 Reminiscent of a garden scene, this romantic image reflects Kathleen's love of Point Ellice. Romance
has human vision as its obsession: at its center is a
person or persons viewing and viewed, an observer or spectator whose abilities to see fully, partially, or not at all indicate his or her moral as well
as physical activities.10 More importantly than story
to photograph, was the photograph to storytelling itself.
At age seventeen, in 1884, Kathleen visited the
studio of Lambert,Weston and Son in Folkestone,
England, for the first time. Five photographs are
produced at this sitting, including three bust portraits and two standing three-quarter length portraits. As was the custom, Kathleen would have
sent these images to friends and family members.
Requesting multiple images from one sitting
would have provided Kathleen with a selection
from which to choose the best representation of
herself. On a Saturday afternoon, 17 May 1884,
she wrote in a letter to her brother Frank, indicating her pleasure with the photographs from
this sitting. "My dear Frank, ... I am going to
send out the photos that were taken down at
Folkestone, of me You will all think they are very
It is quite possible Kathleen selected this studio. Kathleen adds in her letter to Frank, "Weston's
establishment has been very enlarged he has a very
large window now, opposite the Bank, so a great
many people stop to look. Lisa & I used to have
fun watching them."12
In this series, Kathleen's hairstyle and dress are
nearly identical to the fashions adopted the previous year. As seen in the photograph H-01513,
again the high collared dress indicates Kathleen's
constant attention to Victorian stylistic patterns.
Changes in this style of dress are the front button
enclosure, skirt gathered at the front, and slightly
peaked gatherings at the shoulder. Collar and cuff
are alike in fabric and detail, slightly ruffled. In
photograph HP 50086, Kathleen holds a hat of
woven material, similar to the men's top hat, and
adorned with a large band of satin fabric and a
When one looks at the relationship ofthe photographer and subject, it is evident that Kathleen
was aware of the role of the photographer in capturing her image. Photography shows the physical truth, but it is the photographer, the subject,
and the camera that stage truth.The subject wants
to see an image that is true to their personal associations. To ensure these associations were addressed accurately, the subject would have selected
the studio, photographer, dress, as well as posture.
These choices all reveal her personal concerns.
"People are gendered both by their clothing and
by their posture."13 In this image, and many other
studio photographs of Kathleen, she holds her arms
and legs close to her body, presenting a smooth,
confined, and reserved image. The majority of
Kathleen's photographs present her in bust in portraiture, an image of her head and shoulders.There
are also many images of her standing, a few of her
seated. In none is she openly smiling. "In Victorian America, sitting was not merely taking a load
off your feet. It was a way to reveal character, gender, social class and power."14 Both sitting and
standing positions were staged, as the presentation of self was held up for public scrutiny and
Photography played with unusual relationships
between the subject and the photographer, which
toyed with the idea of truthfulness. This relationship would have been partially responsible for the
posture and pose of subject. For example, at this
sitting, there are four instances where Kathleen
looks away from the camera, and one instance
where she looks straight ahead at the lens. Was
the direction of Kathleen's gaze a request of the
photographer, based on his artistic merit? Not only
is her posture determined by a personal sense of
self-esteem, but by the culture she belongs to, and
thus, the photographer that controls it. "As in all
portraits, the challenge is to represent sitters in
ways that meet their expectations and conform
to cultural norms."16 If Kathleen's posture can be
equated to her sense of self-esteem, it must also
be mentioned in light of her education at Lady
Murray's. Kathleen was known for erect posture,17
which was achieved at school, spending half an
hour a day lying on a backboard.18
At home, in snapshot photographs likely taken
by her brother, Kathleen is posed leaning on the
front door of Point Ellice House. In this image,
H-04812, she wears full-length feminine riding
attire, leather gloves, and a cloche hat. Her gaze is
cast downward at the riding whip held in her
hands.The image presents a young woman, modestly attired, elegant, and serene.
In another photograph, H-04871, taken in the
front driveway at Point Ellice House, she is similarly dressed in stylish riding gear, standing beside
her horse, Blackie. Her wide smile and proud
3 Jennifer Green-Lewis,
Framing the Victorians:
Photography and the
Culture of Realism,
(Cornell,  Ithaca and
London, 1996), 32
10 Ibid. p. 34
11 CK. O'Reilly to EJ.
O'Reilly, Campden Hill,
17 May 1884, BC
Archives A/E/Or3/
12 CK. O'Reilly to EJ.
O'Reilly, Campden Hill,
17 May 1884, BC
Archives A/E/Or3/
13 Kenneth L.Ames,
'Posture and Power,"
Death in the Dining Room
and Other Tales of Victorian
Culture, (Philadelphia:
Temple University Press,
1992) 187
"Ibid. 189
15 Ibid. 189
16 Ames, p. 185
17 Mrs. E. Sisson. Personal
communication and
interviewed by Virginia
Careless, 22 November
18 CK O'Reilly to
parents. 21 May 1884.
O'Reilly papers BC
31 stance indicate a love for riding, as well as for her horse. Kathleen is caught
in this spontaneous snapshot with a full smile, teeth exposed. This is a rare
image, as Kathleen is shy about exposing her teeth, and has previously referred to herself as a "walrus."19
Both images depict Kathleen as a stylish girl of active outdoor pursuits,
very much determined by her spontaneous smile, and carefully selected
riding gear. Other snapshot images of Kathleen show her boating, bicycle
riding, and holding a tennis racquet posed by the Point Ellice tennis lawn.
By the time Kathleen returned from England to Victoria in 1884 she is
fully aware of the photographer's ability to tell her story and document her
personal interests. These gentle intimate portraits of Kathleen in the
entranceway of her home look inward at an increasingly privatized and
protected domestic haven, expressing her personal passions.
At the time of this photograph, George Eastman is promoting the Kodak
camera, as an instrument easily used by the amateur photographer, and not
just by the professional. During Eastman's early campaign of daylight-loading cameras he emphasized the ease of using the camera. "Anybody can use
it. Everybody will use it," ran the publicity.20 But by 1899, George Eastman
had released the revolutionary hand-held Kodak
Brownie with the slogan "You press the button,
we do the rest" where the amateur was now able
to send off the film for processing and no special
skills were required.21 In the Point Ellice House
collection are two Kodak cameras, a No. 4 cartridge camera manufactured in 1897 and one of
the first of the folding pocket autographic cameras launched in 1914. However, the back cover
of the autographic camera appears to have been
added to an original folding pocket camera model
3A, which could date the camera as early as 1909.
The introduction of the Kodak camera in August
1888 brought photography to the masses.22 It was
introduced in the same way that other consumer
products were introduced in a market economy,
through mass marketing techniques. For women,
Eastman's advertisements looked inward toward
the domestic theme, encouraging the use of the
camera as a tool to create a personal record.
Eastman's advertisements appeared in the same
ladies'journals Kathleen purchased. This message
was also directed largely at the middle class,23 who
could afford the pleasures of this new technology.
In deconstructing the elements of these amateur
photographs, Kathleen's understanding of how the
camera operates is brought forth, whether it was
used in the studio or by the amateur in the family.
In 1888, the O'Reilly family vacationed in England and Europe, and Kathleen chose to have her
photograph taken in a number of studios. In photographs, HP 50082 and C-03885, taken by Lambert Weston & Son, Folkestone, England, she
chooses to adorn herself with an elaborately fur-
trimmed suit and high hat.This attire is indicative
of a woman attending to the concerns of high
fashion and maintaining her role in high society.
Neither of these items are particularly practical in
nature, nor could they been seen as reminiscent
of former maternal influence for simplicity and
order. Here she is a poised young woman of solid,
upper middle class parentage, flaunting her love
of high fashion. In other instances, Kathleen's personal sense of "style seems to come through and
her presence makes a bolder statement."24
Kathleen and her parents travelled through
Spain as part of this trip in 1888. Kathleen's appreciation of this foreign place is indicated in her
letter home to brother Frank, so too is her appreciation for the arrival of her clothing. "My dear
Frank,... it has been a lovely trip through orange
groves, by mountains & plains & at times the train
passes so close to the shores of the Mediterranean
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.35 No.4 that you can see the pebbles on the beach under
the water...You will imagine I was glad to see
my box last Sunday morning & be able to get a
change of things."25
At the time, Kathleen stops at the photographer L.Sanchez, C[all]e Zaragoza 12, Madrid.The
photograph of Kathleen in the Spanish studio, HP
50080, is a remarkable indication of her personal
interest in fashion, and an obvious act of self-representation. The Spanish mantilla she has chosen
is an elaborate piece as it frames the beauty she is
so obviously aware of. Graced with a beauty that
was timeless rather than simply fashionable,
Kathleen took advantage of her presentation in
front ofthe camera. In her gloved hands she holds
an exquisitely detailed fan, and on her shoulder
sits an exotic Spanish flower. As she rests upon a
prop provided by the photographer, she is photographed against a backdrop of exotic foliage.This
Spanish photographer has nearly turned the photograph into a painting. In fact, Kathleen is so
delighted by this image of herself that a painting
is commissioned at this same studio, HP 50081,
based on this photograph. Note that this is the
only time she chooses to portray herself in the
costume of an exotic culture, although she travelled in other countries, as far away as Rome. Her
choice to wear this outfit, while travelling with
her mother, may be an indication of Kathleen's
independence from her mother's influence.
Focusing on dreams rather than reality, these
photographs of Kathleen in elaborate costume
capture her personal desires and fantasies. In photographs of herself, she owns the right to self-
representation, and uses it to present her personal
story. When the images are professionally taken,
there is a contract between photographer and subject quite different from amateur photography. Personal photographs are specifically made to portray the individual or group as they would wish
to be seen and as they have chosen to show themselves to others.26 Kathleen is quite obviously announcing a personal interest with the exotic and
Throughout her life, Kathleen visits the studio
of Lambert,Weston and Son many times. In 1888,
four photographs, including two bust portraits,
HP 50084 & HP 87413, and two standing three-
quarter length portraits, C-03896 & HP 50085,
are produced from this sitting.These portraits show
an evolution in Kathleen's hairstyle, again, according to fashion. Worn with confidence, this formal
gown has a low, V-shaped neckline and shorter
sleeves. Almost considered daring, the neckline's
lowest point is enhanced with a large floral corsage, while the choker-style necklace draws attention to her graceful neck. Another indication
of self-confidence is the jewelled pin on her breast,
which bears the letter "K" for her name. These
personal decisions to announce herself to the
viewer were clearly chosen by Kathleen in preparation for this sitting. Kathleen was not known to
flaunt her beauty and womanly figure, or known
as the outgoing type, but was described as pretty
but modest,27 and she referred to herself as being
These photographs can be compared to another photograph taken at this time on Kathleen's
return to the Taber studio in San Francisco. Here,
the daring line of her dress is presented to the
camera, as the elegant arch of the fabric drops to
expose her back. Again, Kathleen has adorned herself with a floral corsage, as she holds a bouquet
of flowers in her hands. Such floral additions to
her attire may have been merely a reflection of
Victorian fashion with flowers, but they also echo
her personal attachment to the gardens of Point
In this image, HP 50119, she is seated at the
center of family and close friends on the tennis
lawn at Point Ellice House. The photographer,
Left: HP 50080
Kathleen O'Reilly, age 21,
1888, in Spanish atire.
Studio ofL. Sanchez,
Opposite page:
Kathleen O'Reilly, age 17,
1884. Lambert Weston &
Son Studio, Folkestone,
19 CK. O'Reilly to parents.
7 November 1884.
O'Reilly papers BC
30 Patricia Holland," 'How
Sweet is it to Scan:
Personal Photographs and
Popular Photography" in
Photography, A Critical
Introduction, ed. Liz Wells
(New York: Routledge,
1997) 129
32 James E. Paster,
'Advertising Immortality
by Kodak," History of
Photography (London:
Journal Publisher:Taylor
& Francis Ltd, London),
vol. 16, no. 2 (Summer
1992): p. 135
33 Holland, p. 129
34 Careless, p. 29
35 CK. O'Reilly to EJ.
O' Re illy Barcelona,
Spain, 20 April 1888, BC
Archives A/E/Or3/
36 Holland, p. 107
27 Agnes Murray to CA.
O'Reilly, 27 April 1885.
O'Reilly papers, BC
38 CK O'Reilly to CA.
O'Reilly, 26 June 1885.
O'Reilly papers, BC
33 Above: HP-87413
Kathleen O 'Reiily, ag
21, 1888. Lambert
Weston & Son studio,
Folkestone, England.
29 Stanhope to Peter
O'Reilly, Banff Hotel, 22
August 1892, Add Mss
412, Box 1 File 18, Point
Ellice House collection.
30 Peter O'Reilly to CK
O'Reilly,Victoria, 8
December 1896,
O'Reilly letters 1896-
1897. p.4
brought to Point Ellice
to take this photograph,
may have selected this
arrangement. In any
case, the posture and
gaze of each individual
is quite uniquely their
The only one looking directly at the camera, Kathleen sits upright and proper as she
would for a studio photograph. Pose, posture,
and bright clothing all
combine to make
Kathleen the focal
point and centre of this
photograph. This gaze
and posture indicate
that she is comfortable
in front of the camera,
while others shy away
with downward and
cast-off glances. On the
bench, her father sits in a position of authority,
looking off to the horizon, with his arm propped
on the backrest and right hand steady on his cane.
Mother Caroline is seated in a reserved and orderly position, eyes directed towards her hands,
which are placed neatly on her lap. The Colonel
is positioned on the edge ofthe bench, indicating
the casual nature of this event. Both of Kathleen's
brothers are seated to her right, somewhat slumped
over while their hats nearly fall over their eyes.
Stanhope, her suitor at the time, is comfortably
leaning back into Kathleen's personal space. Having casually cast his hat and racket to the side,
while seated very close to the dog, his posture
indicates a very nonchalant attitude.
Naval officer Lieutenant-Commander Henry
Stanhope, thirty-six year old heir to the Earl of
Chesterfield, was very fond of Kathleen. He
courted her for several years, before proposing
marriage in 1892. Initially, twenty-five-year-old
Kathleen was very vague, and eventually denied
his request. Kathleen wrote in a letter to her father, "I did not want to be married, I love being
here with you all & though you may think that I
am discontented, I am not—& I don't believe any
one has ever had a happier house & life than I
Stanhope writes to Peter with hopes of win
ning his approval, expressing concern for
Kathleen's well being. "Dear Mr. Peter O'Reilly,
.. .how could she be expected to look with anything but shudder at a prospect so uncertain, and
give up her home and her horse, and all her other
things, and leave her parents, who are so devoted
to her, & she to them, in complete uncertainty as
to when or how would see them again."29 These
actions have no effect on Kathleen's decision, as
she decides to remain with her family at beloved
Point Ellice.
At the Lafayette studio, photographs A-07106
and PE 975.1.9247 document Kathleen's presentation to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Lord
Cadogan, at Dublin Castle. Having been encouraged by the family to have these photos taken, as
noted in a letter before this event, Kathleen is
told "Don't forget the photo."30The family knew
this photograph would appear in the contemporary journal, Ladies Pictorial. A prestigious event,
Kathleen is presented in the most elaborate dress
she has ever worn, as an expanse of fabric and
flowers cascades down the stairs behind her. The
enormous bouquet and headpiece were suited for
royalty, not exactly the colonial type seen in British Columbia. Kathleen's presentation mirrors that
of a princess, certainly the highlight in any woman's quest for fashion perfected. Yet, Kathleen
downplays it all and does not revel in this glory.
She writes " My dear Father, ... I had no intention of going to the Drawing Room. It was on
the spur of the moment and I wonder what you
will think of my going! It was strange Carry
[Dunsmuir] wrote me some time ago she had her
dress and w[oul]d like to present me in London!
I said No I did not care for it & it was not worth
the expense but I could not have gone to the Ball
at the Castle without being presented. Old Scotter
charged 10 pounds for my train, of course it will
make a dress..." Instead, she yearns for home and
gardens "...Carry w[oul]d like to take me &
Josephine to the Drawing Room here in May &
all go to the Buckingham Palace Garden Party. I
think I had better be at the Point Ellice House
Garden Party, what do you say."31 (10 March 1897,
Baileys Hotel, London)
In another letter to her family, Kathleen expresses concern about the amount she has spent
on accessories for the event"... I did not mean to
have a bouquet for the Drawing Room as it is
not necessary if one has a fan, and I had the Annie
Pooley one. I don't know what you will say to all
this extravagance write as soon as you can & fully
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.35 No.4 Left:A-07106
Kathleen O 'Reiily, age
30, 27 February 1897, in
her presentation gown.
Presentation to Lord
Lieutenant of Ireland.
Photographed by Lafayette,
Photographer to The
Queen, London England
and Dublin, Ireland.
35 about commissions and exporting."
Partaking in a grand social whirl, these letters
may document the "life of a well-to-do, upper-
class young lady of the late 1890s."32 However,
these letters also indicate her concern for the extravagance and expense.
One only has to examine the photograph of
Kathleen in the garden, H-05582, to see that she
was happy at home. She smiles while carrying an
armful of flowers. The amateur family photographer has taken this image of their beloved
Kathleen, surrounded by the gardens she and her
father had developed together.
Several amateur photographs exist of Kathleen
in the gardens and on the lawns of Point Ellice,
but many more studio images exist.The O'Reilly
family understood the value of a photograph, and
often requested the image of their precious
Kathleen be taken. "I have not yet seen the photos of my girl where are they?"33 Photograph I-
51782, which shows Kathleen adjusting the shade
of the back window at Point Ellice, is the typical
amateur photograph, as it is candid, informal and
spontaneous.Taken by a family member with the
Cartridge Kodak No.4, this image of Kathleen
may have been taken for several other reasons.
By the turn of the century, Kodak no longer
promoted the camera's instantaneous capabilities
that were novelty in the 1888 promotions. Instead, the idea of the snapshot's value as an aid to
memory was promoted.The idea that photography could be used to capture and save moments
is evident in Eastman's advertising campaign, con
taining such slogans as ".. .a means of keeping green the Christmas memories."
1903: "A vacation without a Kodak is a vacation wasted." 1904: "Where
there's a child, there should the Kodak be. As a means of keeping green the
Christmas memories, or as a gift, it's a holiday delight." 1905: "Bring your
Vacation Home in a Kodak." 1907: "In every home there's a story for the
Kodak to record - not merely a travel story and the story of summer holidays, but the story of Christmas, ofthe winter evening gathering and ofthe
house party."
1909: "There are Kodak stories everywhere."34
Eastman's advertisements would have been present in the ladies'journals
that Kathleen was fond of.The nature of the Kodak camera, as it relates to
lasting human concerns, would have appealed to this family. As early as
1897, amateur photographs at Point Ellice captured memories of Kathleen.
Amateur photographs act as carriers of meaning and interpretations. They
record and reflect on daily activities, delicately holding within the innocent-seeming image much that is intimate.35
In her thirties, Kathleen lost both her mother and father. Caroline's death
in 1899 requires Kathleen to take on the responsibility of caring for her
father at Point Ellice, which resulted in fewer trips overseas. In 1905, Peter
dies, leaving Kathleen to tend the home for her brother and his wife. She is
content within the confines of her home, maintaining the gardens of Point
Ellice. Her personal photographs and the photographs taken by family members would have comforted Kathleen as her family disappeared. Now her
photographs have become part of the complex network of memories and
meanings that made sense of Kathleen's daily life.
This formal photograph taken inside Point Ellice House, HP 50078, is
that of a woman of upper social class residing in a regal, yet dim environment.The dark clothing, sombre expression and surrounding do not resemble the romantic studio photographs from the past. She belonged to a minority, unmarried, a woman of independence having rejected a proposal for
marriage. While she does not fit the typical model of the married, middle-
class woman, she is content to reside at Point Ellice. In her twenties, she was
HP 50119. Kathleen
O'Reilly seated at the
centre of family and close
friends on the tennis lawn
at Point Ellice House.
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol.35 No.4 Left: H-05582 Kathleen
O 'Reilly, circa 1905, in
the garden at Point Ellice.
Unknown amateur
fulfilled emotionally by the love of her parents
and brothers. Now as a spinster, Kathleen lives
out her life at Point Ellice, vacant of the social
activity and elaborate affairs.
It has been argued that Kathleen used photography as a measure of success, confirming her
position within society.The elements of every portrait were carefully composed to illustrate the full
extent and diversity of Kathleen's lifestyle. Such a
portrait was a personal statement of financial and
social status, and successful lifestyle choice.Those
who saw these images would have looked upon
them as all that was tasteful and refined.To colonials
who brought with them conservative views on
government, home, and society based upon British traditions and Victorian taste, photographs of
elegant settings and genteel pastimes concerned
the creation of civilized society, and an ordered
landscape in an isolated corner of the Empire.
Kathleen would have chosen how she wanted
to be portrayed in front ofthe camera. Her choice
of dress, the studio she attended, and the consistency of this practice proved her self-worth.
Kathleen would have made a conscious decision
to attend the studio of a photographer. Often, she
selected one photographer, and visited his studio
on several occasions, such as Lambert,Weston and
Son, whom she frequented in trips to the Folkestone area.The decision to have her likeness captured by an English photographer, as opposed to
studios inVictoria, is an indication of her sense of
self-identity within British practices.
Photography can be placed within broader
theoretical debates and understandings, either pertaining to meaning and communication, or to
visual culture and representation. Kathleen's interests and self-expression can be extracted from
the deconstruction of elements of each photograph. Photographed in so many instances, the
collection of images provided Kathleen and her
friends and family with a memory of her life constructed according to her values.These images can
best be understood as Kathleen's romanticized
story of her life. Photography, then and now, is a
creative, cultural practice and must be traced back
to its significance in personal and social terms. ^^
31 CK O'Reilly to Peter
O'Reilly, Point Ellice,
Victoria, BC Archives,
location unknown.
32 James K. Nesbitt,
Kathleen O'Reilly Mingled
with Dublin Society, Point
Ellice House Web site,
collections, ic. gc. ca/peh/
tour/news. htm>.
33 Peter O'Reilly to CK
O'Reilly,Victoria, May
25, 1897, O'Reilly letters
1896-1897. p. 21
34 Paster, p. 135
35 Holland, p. 106
37 Book Reviews
Books for review and book reviews should be sent to:
AnneYandle, Book Review Editor BC Historical News,3450 West 20th Avenue,Vancouver BC V6S1E4
Deborah Rink
Spirited Women: A History of Catholic
Sisters in British Columbia,
reviewed by Jacqueline Gresko.
Dwight L. Smith, ed.
A Tour of Duty in the Pacific Northwest:
E.A. Porcher and H.M.S. Sparrowhawk,
reviewed by Barry M. Gough.
Frank Moritsugu
Teaching in Canadian Exile,
reviewed by Naomi Miller.
Ann Walsh, ed.
Beginnings: Stories of Canada's Past,
reviewed by Pat Ajello.
Bill Gallaher
The Promise: Love, Loyalty and the
Lure of Gold. The Story of "Cariboo"
reviewed by Branwen C. Patenaude.
Mike Puhallo
Piled Higher and Deeper on the
Cariboo Trail,
reviewed by Sheryl Salloum.
Richard J. Lane
Literature & Loss: Betrand William
Sinclair's British Columbia,
reviewed by Betty Keller.
Spirited Women: A History of
Catholic Sisters in British
Vancouver: Sisters'Association Archdiocese
ofVancouver, 2000.
275 pp. Illus. $27.95 paperback.
Reviewed by Jacqueline Gresko.
For most people outside the Roman
Catholic Church nuns all seem, or, until the
1960s, all seemed the same: women in long
black outfits teaching or nursing in male-
dominated institutions. Few historians write
about female religious congregations, or
note that the active groups should be called
"sisters" and the contemplative, convent-
enclosed groups should be called "Nuns."
British Columbians who want to inquire
about the sisters who established themselves
here in the past have difficulty doing so.
Since the 1960s these women have changed
in appearance and in works. Most recently
they have been declining in numbers or
departing the province.
British Columbia historians will
welcome the news that the Sisters
Association of the Archdiocese ofVancouver
contracted with geographer Deborah Rink
to compile the history of the sisterhoods
that arrived in this province prior to 1958.
Rink's Spirited Women goes a long way
towards answering the questions British
Columbia historians ask about Catholic
Rink surveys these religious women in
three time periods: settlement to 1914,
education and health 1914 to 1945, and
changing habits and transforming ministries
1946 to 2000. She outlines how each of two
dozen congregations were organized, and
when and how they came to British
Columbia. She summarizes their first
impressions of its peoples, and indicates both
what services each group of sisters provided
and how they adjusted to various
communities and changing times. For the
first two groups she gives us maps and for
all groups she includes photographs of
traditional costumes or "habits."
The chapter of Spirited Women on the
Sisters of Saint Ann, the first Catholic sisters
to arrive in British Columbia, serves as an
example of Deborah Rink's work and the
sisters' histories. Esther Blondin and her
associates in the diocese of Montreal took
the initiative to found a teaching sisterhood
in 1850, although their bishop got the
official credit. They sent a small group of
sisters west in 1858 to teach children of the
fur traders and Native peoples. The Sisters
of Saint Ann established services for these
peoples and for the gold rush and settler
communities. They not only founded
schools on Vancouver Island and the
mainland but also began orphanages,
hospitals and social service work.The sisters
staffed Indian residential schools directed by
male clerics but also ran their own Native
missions and taught in government day
schools. By 1900 the Sisters of Saint Ann
established a nursing school inVictoria and
had pioneered the teaching of commercial
courses. Their school students followed the
British Columbia curriculum and sat
provincial government entrance exams both
for high school and university.
In a male-dominated church the Sisters
of Saint Ann had to finance their own efforts.
They raised funds by charging fees for elite
academy pupils, for music lessons, and for
memberships in a hospital society.They used
these funds to care for needy students and
patients in towns and to make up shortfalls
in government funding for Indian schools.
Donations from the public helped the sisters'
efforts and so did the proceeds from
women's auxiliary events. In turn the Sisters
of Saint Ann assisted several other
sisterhoods in getting started in British
Columbia, including groups who provided
Catholic services to Asian immigrants.
Deborah Rink and her sponsors ought
to do another volume on Catholic sisters in
British Columbia and help historians answer
further questions, especially regarding the
context and controversies surrounding their
work. For example, how did Catholic
women's activities compare with those of
Methodist or Anglican women, or with
those of Catholic men? Why did schools
begun by Catholic sisters before  1900
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol. 35 No. 2 continue well into the twentieth century in
contrast to most schools begun by other
religious organizations? Why did the
sisterhoods attract members from Native,
White, and Asian communities on the west
coast and the largest male congregation, the
Oblates of Mary Immaculate, has to rely on
recruits from France, Ireland, and central
Canada? By the 1920s the Oblates split into
separate French and English-speaking
branches of a large international order. The
French-speaking sisterhoods that came to
British Columbia remained closely linked
to their original mother houses, even when
they became multilingual or spoke of this
province as" home."
The most interesting variation on this
theme, and one not fully explored by Rink,
is the story of the sisters of the Child Jesus.
They came from France in 1896 to teach at
Williams Lake Indian Residential School.
The sisters sought Native and Irish entrants
to help with their work. They staffed other
residential schools: e.g. one for the Squamish
Nation, a parish school and boarding
academy in North Vancouver, and parish
schools in MaillardviUe. When the French-
Canadian parishioners of the latter
community took the school children out
on strike to get government funding for
Catholic schools in 1951-1952, they were
not supported by the English Catholics of
the Vancouver Archdiocese. This
controversial event did aid Catholic schools
in getting government services, and it did
contribute to the achievement in 1977 of
partial provincial funding for independent
schools. The strike also meant the Sisters of
the Child Jesus departed MaillardviUe
schools.They put their efforts into expansion
to the east, to the prairies and even to
Quebec. Meanwhile, the Good Shepherd
Sisters of Quebec City came west to teach
in French parish schools in MaillardviUe and
Vancouver from 1953 to 1968. By the latter
date the Sisters of the Child Jesus sold their
Quebec institutions and returned home to
their Canadian motherhouse in North
Vancouver. More recently, in 1996, the
Squamish Nation hosted a celebration of
these sisters' centennial in Canada in three
official languages: Squamish, English and
French, and made all invited guests promise
to remember and tell their story forever.
Reviewer Jacqueline Gresko, Douglas College,
is First Vice President of the British Columbia
Historical Federation.
A Tour of Duty in the Pacific
Northwest: E.A. Porcher and
H.M.S. Sparrowhawk, 1865-1868
Dwight L. Smith, ed.
Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, 2000.
172 pp. Illus., map. US$34.95. hardcover.
Reviewed by Barry M. Gough
In a time not so long ago warships
provided such security as existed on the
shores of British Columbia and adjacent
territories of Russian America, Oregon and
Washington State. In the age of Pax
Britannica this shoreline was another zone
of influence in which the world's preeminent naval power, Britain, exercised its
influence by various sloops-of-war, gunboats,
gun vessels, corvettes, and light and armoured
cruisers. As that century proceeded, so too
did the size of these vessels increase, and as
time advanced the Pax became more
assuredly established. Law was extended from
the quarterdeck in support of authorities
ashore. Certain tribes were pacified, by force
if necessary but mainly through peaceful
accommodation. This subject was one that
became a personal passion for this historian,
and my book Gunboat Frontier: British
Maritime Authority and Northwest Coast Indians
(UBCPress, 1984) was the result. I cite this
book because it provides the overarching
framework for the themes grandly developed
by Professor Dwight Smith. By taking the
experience of one gun vessel as recorded
through the journal of its commander we
are given a brilliant slice of the Pax Britannica
at work.
And what a wonderful slice it was. Steam
power and gunnery, displayed in great
influence, in the Sparrowhawk, seemed to get
to all the important places of crisis, real and
imagined, on the coast. The gun vessel had
reached Esquimalt by way of a passage under
sail and steam via Rio, the Falklands and the
Strait of Magellan. From England to
Esquimalt was 19,988 sea miles, and of these
17,866 were undertaken under canvas alone.
Coal was expensive, hard to obtain, and steam
navigation could be unreliable as experience
had shown. Sparrowhawk reached Esquimalt
from Hawaii, and after a brief time began to
show the flag to the Native communities and
to forts and missionary establishments. In May
1866 she went north on a month-long cruise
to Metlakatla, the Church Missionary Society
mission to the Tsimshian, returning via the
Queen Charlotte Islands and Fort Rupert
and Alert Bay. Once the gun vessel was back
at the naval base of Esquimalt news was
relayed through Admiralty and diplomatic
channels that the Fenians were advocating
attacking Canada from bases in the United
States.The intention was to end Britain's rule
in Ireland. Sparrowhawk was sent to New
Westminster to provide aid to the civil power
and to deter aggression, and made two
voyages to San Francisco for repairs and mail.
From June to August Sparrowhawk completed
a grand northern cruise, to Sitka, then
Russian America, being the last time a British
warship transited inner waters of Alaska when
under Russian authority.Years later, in 1879,
another British man-of-war Osprey would be
there at American request to provide
assistance against a local Native rising. The
vessel called at Port Simpson and at the San
Juan Islands (where the British had a garrison
to prevent the Americans from taking all).
The commander of the Sparrowhawk, E.A.
Porcher, joined the governor of British
Columbia, Seymour, in a trouble-shooting
expedition to the interior, the Cariboo, an
event known as the Grouse Creek War.They
travelled to parts of BC's yesteryear: Clinton,
150 Mile House, and Kanaka Bar. They
travelled in Mr. Barnard's stage.They steamed
upriver in the Lillooet. They met gold
commissioners and government agents,
examined the public buildings at Barkerville,
and by steamer, horseback, and on foot
completed the rest of their voyage, a grand
summer tour of about 1000 miles, with
travelling costs in the order of $100 for
steamer and stage fares.
Further official duties of the Pax were
undertaken during the last winter of the
Sparrowhawk in these waters: readiness against
a possible Fenian attack; a tour to towns on
Puget Sound, a visit to New Westminster, and
the transfer ofthe governor's seat of residence
from the mainland to Victoria:
As Victoria was to be proclaimed the
Capital on the Queen's Birthday, the
Governor as well as the Officials had been
making preparations for leaving New
Westminster for some time past, and at
Noon the Governor, Mrs Seymour,
Lowndes & the servants embarked without any ceremony or anybody coming
down to see them off. Steamed away...and
on passing New Westminster not a Flag
was hoisted as was usual on ordinary occasions, and hardly a soul was to be seen.
Arrived at Cadboro Bay in little less than
6 hours where the Governor & party disembarked and we then proceeded on to
Esquimalt where we anchored at 8.15
[p.m. 18 May 1868],
39 From Cadboro Bay, the editor explains in
one of his many fine footnotes, the Governor
and his party were met and driven to
Government House, where they were met
by the militia under Captain Pearse,
presenting arms, and a band played" God Save
the Queen."The Sparrowhawk was meanwhile
enroute to Esquimalt, unable to enter Victoria
Harbour because she drew too much water
for low tide—thus avoiding a most
embarrassing gubernatorial arrival at the
Capital of the United Colony of British
Two more coastal voyages were
undertaken by the gun vessel: one, to the
Queen Charlottes and southern Alaska; the
other to investigate murder cases involving
Indians and the rescue of officers and men of
the USS Suwanee off the northern tip of
Vancouver Island. This cruise into the
northern waters of BC included extending
justice in Native-related matters, inspecting
a military installation, conducting business
with a trading post, and visiting a coal mining
It has been all too customary to imagine
that the men and officers of the Royal Navy
of this era spent their days resting on their
oars. Historians have even gone so far as to
suggest that at the end of the nineteenth
century the RN was really a yacht club. Guns
were not to be fired because it might get
powder on sails and uniforms; steam was not
to be got up because soot might dirty the
deck, and much else besides. War with a
capital " W" was hardly thought of—that is
true in these palmy days of empire.The long
period of peace had its other obligations.
Some were pacifistic, still others belligerent.
Most were diplomatic or merely "showing
the flag." Humanitarian work was the order
of business of the day, and peace for the
purpose of commerce and regulated order
the purpose of naval presence.
Professor Smith found Porcher s narrative
in the Beineke Library at Yale University, and
with it wonderful watercolour drawings
reproduced in the book. The commentary
as supplied by Smith is superb, and reflects
dedicated and thorough research.The edition
is a model of its kind, not the cheap and nasty
stuff so often produced by publishers who
should know better. Smith has exploited most
successfully the primary materials that can
sustain his story. Inasmuch as Porcher wrote
for Victoria newspapers about his several
voyages the texts of these have been neatly
used to supplement the original manuscript.
A full bibliography and most useful index
complete this delightful and important
volume.The forty coloured illustrations (from
the Yale Collection of Western Americana)
add hugely to printed illustrations of British
Columbia ofthe 19th century, and collectors
will want the book for these alone. But the
real meat of this book is the text, wonderfully
and richly annotated, that tells the story of
one warship, one captain, many officers, and
still many more men who served their
Monarch and their Empire in pursuit of
peace, order, and good government. In all, it
was a noble mission but one soon forgotten
by those who have failed to read the pages of
history of that time.
Reviewer Barry M. Gough teaches at Wilfrid
Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario
Teaching in Canadian Exile
Frank Moritsugu
395 pp. Illus. $29.95 paperback.
Order from: Ghost-Town Teachers Historical
Society, 36 Deerford Road.Toronto, ON M2J
3J4,or from the Japanese Canadian National
Museum, 6688  South Oaks Crescent,
Burnaby, BCV5E4M7
Reviewed by Naomi Miller.
This is a collection of memories of those
who taught in make-shift schools in the camps
for Japanese Canadians evacuated from the
coast after Pearl Harbour. About 250 Nisei
(Canadian-born Japanese) became teachers in
eight elementary schools operated from 1942
to 1946 by the BC Security Commission.
These teachers were barely out of high
school themselves, initially with no formal
training, put into improvised classrooms with
a minimum of supplies—yet they were
determined. They succeeded. Their pupils
went on to regular schools after the war and
ranked at the top of their new classes.
Each of the short stories woven into the
fabric of twenty-four chapters is listed by its
subtitle in the table of contents. The articles
cover circumstances before the war, changes
after Pearl Harbour, the relocation of families,
recruiting of these teachers, life in detention
camps, then post-war adjustments.The Ghost
Town Teachers Historical Society can
justifiably boast of their successes. Five of their
members and a few of their pupils were
awarded the Order of Canada. Many achieved
international renown for science, artistic
endeavours, and even politics.
The tone of the book is generally happy.
The uprooting of families is recorded in a
matter-of-fact way. There is considerable
emphasis on the humorous and pleasant
interludes. The contributors have refrained
from expressing bitterness or recriminations.
This is a fascinating book about a unique
period in British Columbia. It is a good read
and we recommend it especially as a possible
source of reference for students in the history
of education courses.
Reviewer Naomi Miller is a former editor of the
BC Historical News.
Beginnings: Stories of Canada's Past
Ann Walsh, ed.
Vancouver: Ronsdale Press, 2001. 227 pp.
$12.95 paperback.
Reviewed by PatAjello.
Beginnings is a book of fourteen stories,
each by a different author, including one by
Ann Walsh, editor of the collection. The
stories are arranged chronologically, and cover
the period from the early 1800s to 1937.This
is a book intended for young adults.
Ann Walsh has written an excellent
introduction, putting the stories into context,
including brief outlines of each and, in some
cases, giving the flavour of a story and
something of its emotional content.
Historical notes are also provided, which give
further details of the origins of the stories,
the social conditions of the times, and their
locations across Canada.
The stories in this collection describe
" beginnings", all of them based on true events
in Canadian history. Some are fictional
accounts of real people involved in the events;
in others, characters have been invented to
tell the story. Often the reader is left longing
to know what happened next. I do not
consider this a fault because it gives the
opportunity, especially for a young reader, to
wonder, to imagine, to invent.
" First Encounter" by Margaret Thompson
is a tale for two voices, and tells of an
encounter between a young European, David,
and a young native,Teluah, whose voices tell
the tale from their two points of view. They
speculate, wonder, doubt, question, and finally
realize that nothing can ever be the same for
them again. This format provides an
opportunity for young readers to appreciate
different points of view, and perhaps to
consider more thoughtfully the opinions and
feelings of others.
One of the most poignant stories, "The
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol. 35 No. 2 Bear Tree" by Victoria Miles, is told in the
first person by Marguerite Sedilot who, at
11, was the youngest known bride-to-be in
Canadian history. When the story opens
Marguerite is lying in bed between her two
sisters. She lies quite still. "I will not be the
one to begin this day," she says to herself,
reluctant to start what is to be her wedding
day and will take her away from her family.
And later, "...I mark this moment when I
am still Marguerite Sedilot. I will leave here
Marguerite Aubuchon. And I will be, as I
was when I awoke this morning, twelve years
and eight days old." The bear tree of the title
has particular significance for Marguerite, and
at the end of the story, four years later and
back with her family awaiting the birth of
her first child, she sits beneath it. "At last I
rest my back against the bear tree and take
strength for all the work there will be in my
life, and all the children and all the years to
come." This story will surely provide much
for a young reader to ponder.
The stories in Beginnings are totally unlike
each other, yet each is a unique account of a
circumstance told in clear, uncluttered prose
with just the right amount of description to
allow for the unfolding of a tale. Each story
tells of a beginning and has a defined ending,
yet in every case the future stretches ahead
with possibility and sometimes promise for
those readers blessed with imagination.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and feel
that it will prove an enduring addition to
the genre of young adult literature.
The Promise: Love, Loyalty and the
Lure of Gold. The Story of
"Cariboo" Cameron
Bill Gallaher.
Victoria:TouchWood Editions, 2001.180 pp.
Illus. $17.95 paperback.
Reviewed by Branwen C. Patenaude
This book is written in the first person,
based on the journals of Robert Stevenson,
an entrepreneur and miner of the Rock
Creek, and later the Cariboo region of British
Columbia. Stevenson'sjournal, written nearly
fifty years after his experiences of the early
1860s, was included in a book written by
Dr. WW Walkem, entitled "Stories of Early
British Columbia." It is well known that
Stevenson had an enormous ego, and a story
written so many years after the event is often
greatly embroidered, but does make a good
Cameron, a miner from eastern Canada,
and his lovely young wife Sophie, travelled
to the Cariboo region of British Columbia
in 1862 to dig for gold. While on Williams
Creek, Sophie delivered a still-born baby, and
died of typhoid. The account goes on to
describe a desperate journey, made in the
dead of winter to transport Sophie's remains
from Williams Creek to her home in eastern
At first glance the attractive cover of The
Promise harbours the hope that this book
might include some new material, the
culmination of new research found on the
" Cariboo" Cameron story. My hopes for new
material were soon dashed, for such is not
the case. It is the same old story, and because
the original text of Stevenson'sjournal has
been rewritten and in some cases changed,
the publishers should have included the words
"a novel" in the title. I was fortunate enough
to have a long chat with the author on this
point, and he agreed, but takes no
responsibility for this oversight.
However, what makes the book most
entertaining are many of the old chestnuts,
the old stories and legends associated with
the Cariboo gold rush that have been
rewritten and included here and there
throughout the book. Among these are the
murder of Morgan Blessing, the murder of
the Jewish merchants on the trail to Quesnel
Forks, the story of Johanna McGuire, from
the book The Mystic Springby David Higgins,
and even a portion from Cheadle's The NorthWest Passage by Land.
The stories are well written and create a
background of information concerning the
gold rush, and life as it was at that time in
One part of the journey has never made
sense to me, and that is that the travellers
took the coffin all the way up Pavilion
Mountain when they could have taken it
south by Spences Bridge to Lytton. Although
the wagon road between Clinton and
Spence's Bridge was built a year later than
the rest of the Yale route, it had been
completed by the winter of 1863.
Except for the fact that the title of The
Promise is misleading in that it does not
mention that the book is a novel, it is well
written, entertaining and informative; a good
Reviewer Branwen Patenaude's latest book is
Golden Nuggets: Roadhouse Portraits along
the Cariboo's Gold Rush Trails. 1998.
Piled Higher and Deeper on the
Cariboo Trail
Mike Puhallo.
Cartoons by Wendy Liddle.
Surrey: Hancock House, 2001.
64 pp. Illus. $8.95 paperback.
Reviewed by Sheryl Salloum.
This slim volume of cowboy poetry
explores the past and present state of the
Canadian cowpoke. Following the tradition
of telling yarns around the campfire, the
author writes about Canadians who have
worked as cowhands and those, such as
motorcycling "Harley Huggers," who are
cowboys "deep at heart." Puhallo explains that
"A steed of steel, like the one with hooves,/
lets you feel the wind on your face."
The verses are silly, sentimental, amusing,
and heart-felt. The lighthearted tone of the
book is highlighted by Wendy Liddle s
whimsical pen and ink sketches.
Reviewer Sheryl Salloum used to teach school in
One Hundred Mile House.
Literature & Loss: Bertrand William
Sinclair's British Columbia
Richard J.Lane.
London:The London Network for Modern
Fiction Studies, 2000.102 pp. $15 paperback.
Available from the London Network for
Modern Fiction Studies, Dept. of English,
South Bank University, 103 Borough Rd.,
London SE1 OAA, England.
Reviewed by Betty Keller.
Three-quarters of a century have passed
since Bertrand Sinclair's British Columbia
novels were eagerly snatched from the shelves
of bookstores across North America, Britain,
and Australia. North of Fifty-Three, his first BC-
based romance, sold 340,000 copies, and was
still selling in 1940, 26 years after it was first
issued. It became a Hollywood silent film, as
did his next one, Big Timber, a story about
BC's logging industry. Two more logging
stories followed: The Hidden Places (1921) and
The Inverted Pyramid (1924). However,
although it only sold 80,000 copies, critics
generally agree that his best novel was Poor
Man's Rock (1920), a tale of BC's salmon
fishermen's battle for a better deal from the
salmon canning industry.
Sinclair is almost unknown today, his style
being too old-fashioned, and his
sentiments—as Richard Lane points out in
Literature & Loss: Bertrand William Sinclair's
41 British Columbia—too sexist for modern
readers. Lane began his study of Sinclair's
work a dozen years ago when he was a
Commonwealth Scholar at the University of
British Columbia. His book is a collection
of five essays, four of them previously
published in academic journals and one in
BC Historical News (Vol. 32:3,1999).The first,
"Archive Simulations: Reading the Bertrand
Sinclair Collection," was first published in
the spring of 1993 and is the least rewarding
of the collection. In it he proposes a series of
"fictions which resist 'finding' the author
'behind the text," in the Sinclair materials
held in UBC's Special Collections. Although
he does identify recurring themes within
Sinclair's work-individualism versus
collectivism, concern over property loss, the
residual cost of war, and the imposition of
alien systems on natural working structures—
in the end it is unclear why the author
concludes he has called "the institutional
archival structures into further question."
In "British Columbia's War of Two Worlds:
The Birth of the Modern Age in Bertrand
Sinclair's Fiction" Lane explores Sinclair's six
British Columbia novels to discover the
author's attitudes to the social and economic
impact of the First World War on the people
ofVancouver and the province as a whole.
He finds a crucial difference between
Sinclair's take on the pre-war city and that
of Martin Allerdale Grainger in Woodsmen of
the West. Grainger, he says, focused "on the
city as a service-centre for the logging
community;" in North of Fifty-Three Sinclair
saw it as a machine and the people "mere
parts of that machine," dehumanized by a
corrupt city while beyond it lay the" honest
countryside." In the later novels—written
during and after the war—Lane finds that
Vancouver's social scene "while derided by
Sinclair's narrators for its... parasites feeding
off the work and warfare of others, marks a
transition nonetheless in terms of national
Lane returns to this theme when
examining Sinclair's failed literary novel The
Inverted Pyramid in "Dreams of a Frontier
Classic." Describing it as being "concerned
with the binary opposition of 'land versus
speculation," he sees it as a "morality tale"
that" narrates the importance of land, family,
tradition, and freedom, contrasting such
values with the immorality of the city, of
financial speculation and the creation of nonproductive wealth." The most important
aspect of this vision, however, is nostalgia:" the
desire for a copy without an original." With
its clear analysis of Sinclair's overriding
conflict—a nostalgia that "depended upon
the destruction of the original which could
then be recreated more accurately in his
historical fictions"—this essay is undoubtedly
the most incisive in the collection and does
add substantially to an analysis of Sinclair's
"Writing the Coast," which Lane first
published in 1999, suffers from factual errors
concerning Sinclair's life. However, it does
contain an interesting analysis ofthe author's
predilection for purely masculine activities
and his difficulty in " fitting women into his
scheme of things." The final essay, " Border
Crossings: Forgotten Native Voices in
Bertrand William Sinclair's Canadian and
American Fiction," concentrates on what
Sinclair did not write. Except for a brief
episode in North of Fifty-Three, Sinclair failed
to write about Native peoples. His choice of
characters in his BC novels was limited to
people in the logging and fishing industries,
but Lane points out that his later novels
contain "disparaging remarks and asides
concerning the indigenous people of British
Columbia." Examples of these remarks and
asides—other than that contained in his first
BC novel—would have given readers a better
idea of the "continual effacement of
indigenous peoples" for which Lane
condemns him. It is difficult, however, to
accept Lane's contention that this effacement
of the native peoples from his work was the
reason that Sinclair's novels are virtually
unknown today. "It could be argued," he
writes, "that Sinclair has disappeared from
the Canadian canon precisely because he is
telling the wrong story." It is, in fact, rare for
novels from that period to have survived the
massive social changes which have occurred
since then and still have relevance. The fact
that Sinclair's novels are read at all is due to
the veracity of the subject matter he did write
about—the logging and fishing industries of
Reviewer Betty Keller is a Sechelt writer.
More Books
Books listed here may be reviewed at a later
date. For further information on any title, please
consult Book Review Editor Anne Yandle.
Bella Coola..."A Romantic History.. ."Cliff
Kopas. Heritage House, 2002. $21.95 paperback.
British Columbia Crosswords: A Look at BC
Through Crosswords from Early Explorers
to Modern Day. Glenn Rusth. Harbour
Publishing, 2002. $7.95 paperback.
The Canadian Rockies: Early Travels and Explorations. Esther Fraser. Fifth House,
2002. $16.95 paperback.
Discovery by Design; the Department of Mechanical Engineering ofthe University of
British Columbia: Origins and History,
1907-2001. Eric Darner. Ronsdale Press,
$29.95 paperback.
The Fire StilBurns:A Life ofTrail Talk and
Contrary Opinions. Chilco Choate. Surrey,
Heritage House, 2001. $16.95 paper.
First Nations, First Dogs. Canadian Aboriginal Ethnocynology. Bryan D.Cummins.
Detselig Enterprises, 2002. $39.95 paperback
Flying Under Fire; Canadian Fliers Recall the
Second World War. Wm J.Wheeler, ed.
Fifth House, 2001. $21.95 paperback.
Fort Steele: Gold Rush to Boom Town. Naomi
Miller. Heritage House, 2002. $18.95 paperback.
Head Smashed-in Buffalo Jump. Gordon
Reid. Fifth House, 2002. $12.95 paperback.
Honoured in Places: Remembered Mounties
Across Canada. William J. Hulgaard and
John W.White. Heritage House, 2002.
$18.95 paperback.
If These Walls Could Talk: Victoria's Houses
from the Past. Valerie Green.Touchwood
Editions, 2001. $24.95 paperback.
The Inlet: Memoir of a Modern Pioneer.
Helen Piddington. Harbour Publishing,
2001. $32.95 hard cover.
The Old Bow Fort. Douglas A. Hughes.
Detselig Enterprises, 2002 $16.95 paperback..
On to the Sunset: The Lifetime Adventures of
a Spirited Pioneer. Ethel BurnettTibbits.
Fifth House, 2002. $15.95 paperback.
The People's Boat: HMCS Oriole: Ship of a
Thousand Dreams. Shirley Hewett. Heritage House, 2002. $26.95 paperback.
R.M. Patterson: A Life of Great Adventure.
David Finch. Rocky Mountain Books,
Sayings ofWomen. Nancy Millar &
Margaret McCready. Detselig Enterprises, 2002. $14.95 paperback.
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol. 35 No. 2 News and Notes
October is Women's History Month
In 1991 I initiated a letter-writing campaign
to have one month of the year declared Canadian Women's History Month. October
was suggested because of its association with
the Persons Case. Canadian women officially
became "persons" on 18 October 1929 following a legal battle. In 1992 the federal government designated October as Canadian
Women's History Month. More information
on <>.
—Lyn Gough
Lilian Corriveau t
Naomi Miller writes: "Thank goodness you
took the sheep story ["Looking for Grass,"
35:1] out of the line-up. Lil was delighted to
see her research published. Lilian Corriveau
passed away on 25 May 2002. This staunch
community worker requested no farewell
service but suggested donations be made to
either of two pet projects, namely the Seniors Foundation of BC or the restored
Marysville school."
BC Archives Action Group
Effective 14 August 2002, the British Columbia Archives will be moving Wednesdays
from full service to partial service hours (i.e.,
the reference room will be opened from
09:30-21:00 hrs but there will be no staff
providing services).
The BC Archives has finally been squeezed
enough by the government staff and funding cuts that it is proposing to close one
weekday a week—every Wednesday.
For a year now the Archives has closed on
the third Wednesday of every month for staff
in service. Now it will close every Wednesday to meet its Freedom of Information and
archival mandates.
The Archives will be available for what is
euphemistically called "Partial Service
Hours" on Wednesdays." Partial Service" here
means no retrievals, no reference staff, no
copying on the microfilm readers—in other
words the reading room is open but there is
" no service."
Can you imagine another government department closing one week-day a week?The
Department of Education?The Motor Vehicle Branch? Government Agents? The Ar
chives is one of the central agencies of government and it should be funded to run five
days a week, with full service, full days, with
unattended service on evenings and weekends.
The closure is a major inconvenience to students, treaty researchers, genealogists, authors,
historians, and especially to those who have
to travel to Victoria for a few days of research.
If you feel strongly please let the minister
responsible know. He is: Hon. Sandy Santory
Minister of Management Services, Phone
250.356.7332, Fax 250.356.2960.Trail Constituency Office Phone 250.364.5514. E-mail
<>.The Provincial Archivist is Gary A. Mitchell, CRM,
Phone 250.387.2992, Fax 250.387.2072. E-
mail <>.
Please send a copy of your message to John
Lutz, History Department, University ofVictoria, PO 3045, Victoria BC,V8W 3P4,
Phone 250.721.7392, Fax 250.721.8772.E-
mail <>.
—John Lutz
Northern Lights
On 1 September 1992, Jas. A.C. Derham-
Reid, the last keeper of Cape St. James light
station pulled out with his crew and the station cat, bringing to an end 79 years of North
Coast history. As they circled the rock in the
helicopter, one of his crew commented:" Well,
at least we lasted longer than the Soviet Union." "Small consolation, if any," writes Durham-Reid.
For some 15 years Durham-Reid has been
labouring on his book An Anecdotal History
of Cape St. ]ames Lightstation 1914-1992. He
has come to the conclusion that we are living in a country that does not value even its
recent past. As an example he refers to the
story in Donald Graham's Lights ofthe Inside
Passage, telling about the wanton destruction
of records in the 1960s when half a century
of human history was going up in smoke in
a bonfire fed by clerks with folders labelled:
"Green Island, Lawyer Island, Boat Bluff,
Cape St. James.. .all the rest of the northern
Reading the story of his quest for information it is clear that it has been an uphill battle
for Durham-Reid to find any records. Even
the "dull, pedestrian Ottawa end of official
correspondence" are not complete; the file
for the period 1937 to 1960 is missing." All I
want really is some file which will give me
the Keepers at Cape St. James between 1937
and 1941... to nail down the exact order of
the Keeper staff." Of course he has a multitude of other questions asking for a reply. If
you think you can in any way to help him
reconstruct the past of Cape St. James light
station, please write to Jas. A.C. Derham-
Reid, 1105 Marine Drive, West Vancouver
The Call of the Crow
The Crowsnest, Highway No. 3, leaves the
Trans-Canada at Hope, 140 kilometers inland from Vancouver. From there the
Crowsnest Highway lazily uncurls itself across
the topography of southern British Columbia, eases through the Rockies via the
Crowsnest Pass, and drifts to Medicine Hat
where it reconnects with the Trans-Canada.
Eighteen-hundred kilometres in length, the
Crowsnest Highway is a traveller's delight.
That can also be said of Donald Wilson's informative and entertaining Web site dedicated
to the history of southern BC. A call of a
crow fittingly welcomes the visitors to the
Web site and historians will enjoy following
the virtual highway, visiting today's communities and reading their stories from the past.
The URL is <>.
BCHS Awards
Last year the BC Heritage Society created
the " Ruby Nobbs Outstanding Volunteer
Achievement Award" to recognize exceptional long-term volunteer commitment to
heritage conservation.The first winner of this
new award was Anna CaifVernon, founding
member of the North Okanagan Heritage
Society, now the Vernon and District Heritage Society. After retiring to her hometown
her dedication to the preservation of Vernon's
heritage blossomed.
Among the many other awards announced
by Helen Edwards, HSBC's Awards Committee chair, was an Outstanding Achievement award for Sheila Nickols ("Up with
the Petticoats! Down with the Trousers" BC
Historical News 34:3) for dedicating thirty
years of her considerable knowledge and
energy to the history and heritage of Maple
43 Federation News
W. Kaye Lamb Essay Scholarships
The Scholarship Committee, chaired by
Robert Griffin, recently decided that the W
Kaye Lamb Scholarship for 2001/2002
should be awarded to Marki Sellers for her
paper" Negotiations for Control and Unlikely
Partnerships: 1849-1851."The paper was recommended by Dr. Paige Raibmon of Simon
Fraser University.
The committee felt that this was a very well
written and argued paper.The issues regarding the miners at Fort Rupert and the conflict with the Nahwitti have been discussed
in the literature prior, but Marki Sellers's
approach of combining the conflicts into a
connected issue was innovative and considered sufficient reason to justify the committee's selection.
BCHF Web site
Webmaster Christopher Garrish—winner of
the 2001 BC History Web site prize—took
over from our techical wizard at Cedar Place.
He "refreshed" the design and updated the
pages. Inspect our site at <>.
Prince George 8-11 May 2003
The Winter issue of BC Historical News will
include information and a subscription form
for the conference in Prince George. Form
and information will also be made available
on our Web site: <>.
The theme of next year's conference "Work
and Society: Perspectives on Northern BC
History" will provide participants with a
unique look at BC's industrial heritage and
on the communities that diverse peoples created in British Columbia's north.
Hosted by the University of Northern BC
and Prince George's heritage supporters it
will combine local tours of industrial and
transportation heritage sites with presentations by UNBC students and local historians focusing on the events and people who
have shaped the North. Tours of railway and
sawmill sites are planned as well as walking
tours of the surrounding communities.
Contact: Ramona Rose, Conference Chair,
BCHF 2003 Prince George Organizing
Committee. <>
Steamboat Round the Bend
34 of the summer issue (35:3)
shows this image (left) of the
Colonel Moody. The caption
speaks about the skilful manipula-
■ tions by Helga Martens, Art at
Works Productions, giving the vessel
a new environment.
On the right is
the image that
should have been
shown. Sincere
apologies to
Helga Martens
and Edward
Affleck for this
error. It should
not have
IK COlflfcFl MOODY fu,] bl»m -ln-Jnn rfj» Fhw ASH
MAN USCRIPTS submitted for publication in BC Historical News should be sent to
the editor in Whonnock. Submissions should preferably not exceed 3,500 words.
Submission by e-mail ofthe manuscript   and illustrations is welcome. Otherwise
please send a hard copy and if possible a digital copy ofthe manuscript by ordinary
mail.   All illustrations should have a caption and source information. It is understood that manuscripts published in BC Historical News will also appear in any electronic version ofthe journal.
W. Kaye Lamb
Essay Scholarships
Deadline 15 May 2003
The British Columbia Historical Federation
awards two scholarships annually for essays
written by students at BC colleges or
universities on a topic relating to British
Columbia history. One scholarship ($500)
is for an essay written by a student in a first -
or second-year course; the other ($750) is
for an essay written by a student in a third-
or fourth-year course.
To apply for the scholarship, candidates
must submit (1) a letter of application; (2)
an essay of 1,500-3,000 words on a topic
relating to the history of British Columbia;
(3) a letter of recommendation from the
professor for whom the essay was written.
Applications should be submitted before
15 May 2003 to: Robert Griffin, Chair BC
Historical Federation Scholarship Committee, PO Box 5254, Station B.Victoria, BC
V8R 6N4.
The winning essay submitted by a third-
or fourth-year student will be published in
BC Historical News. Other submissions may
be published at the editor's discretion.
BC History
Web Site Prize
The British Columbia Historical Federation and David Mattison are jointly sponsoring a yearly cash award of $250 to recognize Web sites that contribute to the understanding and appreciation ofBritish Columbia's past. The award honours individual
initiative in writing and presentation.
Nominations for the BC History Web
Site Prize for 2002 must be made to the
British Columbia Historical Federation,
Web Site Prize Committee, prior to 31 December 2002.Web site creators and authors
may nominate their own sites.
Prize rules and the on-line nomination
form can be found on The British Columbia History Web site:  <http://
Best Article Award
A Certificate of Merit and fifty dollars
will be awarded annually to the author of
the article, published in BC Historical News,
that best enhances knowledge of British Columbia's history and provides reading enjoyment. Judging will be based on subject
development, writing skill, freshness of material, and appeal to a general readership interested in all aspects of BC history.
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -Vol. 35 No. 2 British Columbia Historical Federation
Organized 31 October 1922
Affiliated Groups
Archives Association of British Columbia
Women's History Network of British Columbia
Member Societies
Alberni District Historical Society
PO Box 284, Port Alberni, BC V9Y 7M7
Anderson Lake Historical Society
PO Box 40, D'Arcy BC VON 1L0
Arrow Lakes Historical Society
PO Box 819, Nakusp BC VOG 1R0
Atlin Historical Society
PO Box 111, Atlin BC VOW 1A0
Boundary Historical Society
PO Box 1687, Grand Forks BC VOH 1H0
Bowen Island Historians
PO Box 97. Bowen Island, BC VON 1G0
Bulkley Valley Historical & Museum Society
Box 2615, Smithers BC VOJ 2N0
Burnaby Historical Society
6501 Deer Lake Avenue, Burnaby BC V5G 3T6
Chemainus Valley Historical Society
PO Box 172, Chemainus BC VOR 1K0
Cowichan Historical Society
PO Box 1014, Duncan BC V9L 3Y2
District 69 Historical Society
PO Box 1452, Parksville BC V9P 2H4
East Kootenay Historical Association
PO Box 74, Cranbrook BC VIC 4H6
Finn Slough Heritage & Wetland Society
9480 Dyke Road, Richmond BC V7A 2L5
Fraser Heritage Society
Box 84, Harrison Mills, BC   VOM 1L0
Galiano Museum Society
20625 Porlier Pass Drive
Galiano Island BC VON 1P0
Gray Creek Historical Society
Box 4, Gray Creek, BC VOB ISO
Gulf Islands Branch BCHF
c/o A. Loveridge S22, CI 1, RR # 1
Galiano Island BC VON 1P0
Hedley Heritage Society
PO Box 218, Hedley BC   VOX 1K0
Jewish Historical Society of BC
206-950 West 41st Avenue,
Vancouver BC V5Z 2N7
Kamloops Museum Association
207 Seymour Street, Kamloops BC V2C 2E7
Koksilah School Historical Society
5213 Trans Canada Highway,
Koksilah, BC VOR 2C0
Kootenay Lake Historical Society
PO Box 537, Kaslo BC VOG 1M0
Langley Centennial Museum
PO Box 800, Fort Langley BC VIM 2S2
Lantzville Historical Society
c/o Box 274, Lantzville BC VOR 2H0
Lions Bay Historical Society
Box 571, Lions Bay BC VON 2E0
London Heritage Farm Society
6511 Dyke Road, Richmond BC V7E 3R3
Maple Ridge Historical Society
22520 116th Ave., Maple Ridge, BCV2X 0S4
Nanaimo & District Museum Society
100 Cameron Road, Nanaimo BC V9R 2X1
Nanaimo Historical Society
PO Box 933, Nanaimo BC V9R 5N2
Nelson Museum
402 Anderson Street, Nelson BC V1L 3Y3
North Shore Historical Society
c/o 1541 Merlynn Crescent,
NorthVancouver BC V7J 2X9
North Shuswap Historical Society
Box 317, Celista BC  VOE 1L0
Okanagan Historical Society
PO Box 313,Vernon BC V1T 6M3
Princeton & District Museum & Archives
Box 281, Princeton BC VOX 1W0
Qualicum Beach Historical Society
587 Beach Road,
Qualicum Beach BC V9K 1K7
Revelstoke & District Historical Association
Box 1908, Revelstoke BC VOE 2S0
Richmond Museum Society
Minoru Park Plaza, 7700 Minoru Gate,
Richmond BC V6Y 7M7
Salt Spring Island Historical Society
129 McPhillips Avenue,
Salt Spring Island BC V8K 2T6
Silvery Slocan Historical Society
Box 301, New Denver BCV0G ISO
Surrey Historical Society
Box 34003 17790 #10 Hwy. Surrey BC   V3S 8C4
Terrace Regional Historical Society
PO Box 246,Terrace BC V8G 4A6
Texada Island Heritage Society
Box 129,  Blubber Bay BC VON 1E0
Trail Historical Society
PO Box 405,Trail BC V1R 4L7
Union Bay Historical Society
Box 448, Union Bay, BC VOR 3B0
Vancouver Historical Society
PO Box 3071,Vancouver BC V6B 3X6
Victoria Historical Society
PO Box 43035, Victoria North
Victoria BC   V8X 3G2
Yellowhead Museum
Box 1778, RR# 1, Clearwater BC VOE 1N0
The British Columbia
Historical Federation is
an umbrella organization
embracing regional
Local historical societies
are entitled to become
Member Societies of the
BC Historical Federation.
All members of these
local historical societies
shall by that very fact be
members ofthe Federation.
Affiliated Groups are
organizations with
specialized interests or
objects of a historical
Membership fees for
both classes of membership are one dollar per
member of a Member
Society or Affiliated
Group with a minimum
membership fee of $25
and a maximum of $75.
Please   keep the  editor  of BC Historical News informed about any changes to be made to this page.
Questions about
membership should be
directed to:
Terry Simpson
Membership Secretary,
BC Historical Federation
193 Bird Sanctuary,
Nanaimo BC V9R 6G8
Phone: 250.754.5697 Return Address:
British Columbia Historical News
JoelVinge, Subscription Secretary
561 Woodland Drive
Cranbrook,   BC    VIC 6V2
Canadian Publications Mail Product Sales Agreement No. 40025793
Publications Mail Registration No. 09835
We acknowledge the financial support of the   Government of Canada, through the Publications Assistance Program (PAP), toward our mailing costs.
Contact us:
BC Historical News welcomes
stories, studies, and news items
dealing with any aspect of the
history of British Columbia, and
British Columbians.
Please submit manuscripts for
publication to the Editor,
BC Historical News, Fred Braches,
PO Box 130,
Whonnock BC,V2W 1V9.
Phone: 604.462.8942
Send books for review and book
reviews directly to the Book Review Editor, BC Historical News,
AnneYandle, 3450 West 20th
Avenue, Vancouver BC V6S 1E4,
Phone: 604.733.6484
Please send correspondence about
subscriptions to
Subscription Secretary, Joel Vinge
561 Woodland Drive
Cranbrook BC VIC 6V2
Phone/Fax: 250.489.2490
Subscriptions: $15.00 per year
For addresses outside Canada add $10.00
Any book presenting any facet ofBC history, published in 2002, is eligible.This
may be a community history, biography, record of a project or an organization, or personal recollections giving a glimpse of the past. Names, dates and
places, with relevant maps or pictures, turn a story into "history." Note that
reprints or revisions of books are not eligible.
The judges are looking for quality presentations, especially if fresh material is
included, with appropriate illustrations, careful proofreading, an adequate
index, table of contents and bibliography, from first-time writers as well as
established authors.
The Lieutenant-Governor's Medal for Historical Writing will be awarded to an
individual writer whose book contributes significantly to the recorded history of British Columbia. Other awards will be made as recommended by
the judges to valuable books prepared by groups or individuals.
Winners will receive a Certificate of Merit, a monetary award and an invitation
to the BCHF annual conference to be held in Prince George, May 2003.
SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS: All books must have been published in
2002 and should be submitted as soon as possible after publication. Two
copies of each book should be submitted. Books entered become property
of the BC Historical Federation. Please state name, address and telephone
number of sender, the selling price of all editions of the book, and, if the
reader has to shop by mail, the address from which it may be purchased,
including applicable shipping and handling costs.
SEND TO:   BC Historical Federation Writing Competition
PO Box 130, Whonnock BC  V2W 1V9
DEADLINE: 31 December 2002


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