Our History

The British Columbia Historical Federation (BCHF) began its life as the British Columbia Historical Association, established on October 12, 1922. On March 2, 1927, the Association was registered under the Societies Act. On July 29, 1983, the Association was renamed the British Columbia Historical Federation, a name that better reflects its role as an umbrella organization for provincial historical societies.

For more information about the history of the BCHF, explore the sections below:

The Federation

YearPatronHonorary PresidentPresident
2017Lt. Gov. Judith GuichonBarry GoughK. Jane Watt
2016Lt. Gov. Judith GuichonBarry GoughK. Jane Watt
2015Lt. Gov. Judith GuichonJacqueline GreskoGary Mitchell
2014Lt. Gov. Judith GuichonJacqueline GreskoGary Mitchell
2013Lt. Gov. Judith GuichonJacqueline GreskoBarry Gough
2012Lt. Gov. Steven L. PointPatricia RoyBarbara Hynek
2011Lt. Gov. Steven L. PointPatricia RoyBarbara Hynek
2010Lt. Gov. Steven L. PointRon HydeRon Greene
2009Lt. Gov. Steven L. PointRon HydeRon Greene
2008Lt. Gov. Steven L. PointRon HydeRon Greene
2007Lt. Gov. Steven L. PointRon HydePatricia Roy
2006Lt. Gov. Iona CampagnoloNaomi MillerPatricia Roy
2005Lt. Gov. Iona CampagnoloMelva DwyerJacqueline Gresko
2004Lt. Gov. Iona CampagnoloMelva DwyerJacqueline Gresko
2003Lt. Gov. Iona CampagnoloMelva DwyerJacqueline Gresko
2002Lt. Gov. Iona CampagnoloHelen B. AkriggWayne Desrochers
2001Lt. Gov. Garde B. GardomAlice GlanvilleWayne Desrochers
2000Lt. Gov. Garde B. GardomAlice GlanvilleWayne Desrochers
1999Lt. Gov. Garde B. GardomLeonard G. McCannR.J. (Ron) Welwood
1998Lt. Gov. Garde B. GardomLeonard G. McCannR.J. (Ron) Welwood
1997Lt. Gov. Garde B. GardomLeonard G. McCannR.J. (Ron) Welwood
1996Lt. Gov. Garde B. GardomLen NichollsAlice Glanville
1995Lt. Gov. Garde B. GardomArthur LowerAlice Glanville
1994Lt. Gov. David C. LamArthur LowerAlice Glanville
1993Lt. Gov. David C. LamArthur LowerMyrtle Haslam
1992Lt. Gov. David C. LamKeith RalstonMyrtle Haslam
1991Lt. Gov. David C. LamKen LeemingMyrtle Haslam
1990Lt. Gov. David C. LamClaire McAllisterJohn D. Spittle
1989Lt. Gov. David C. LamClaire McAllisterJohn D. Spittle
1988Lt. Gov. R.G. RogersDr. W. Kaye LambJohn D. Spittle
1987Lt. Gov. R.G. RogersDr. W. Kaye LambNaomi Miller
1986Lt. Gov. R.G. RogersDr. W. Kaye LambNaomi Miller
1985Lt. Gov. R.G. RogersCol. G.S. AndrewsLeonard G. McCann
1984Lt. Gov. R.G. RogersCol. G.S. AndrewsLeonard G. McCann
1983Lt. Gov. H.P. Bell-IrvingAnne StevensonBarbara Stannard
1982Lt. Gov. H.P. Bell-IrvingAnne StevensonBarbara Stannard
1981Lt. Gov. H.P. Bell-IrvingAnne StevensonBarbara Stannard
1980Lt. Gov. H.P. Bell-IrvingAnne StevensonRuth Barnett
1979Lt. Gov. H.P. Bell-IrvingAnne StevensonRuth Barnett
1978Lt. Gov. Walter OwenAnne StevensonHelen B. Akrigg
1977Lt. Gov. Walter OwenDr. Margaret A. OrmsbyA. G. Slocomb
1976Lt. Gov. Walter OwenDr. Margaret A. OrmsbyA. G. Slocomb
1975Lt. Gov. Walter OwenDr. Margaret A. OrmsbyFrank Street
1974Lt. Gov. Walter OwenDr. Margaret A. OrmsbyFrank Street
1973Lt. Gov. Walter OwenDr. Margaret A. OrmsbyCol. G.S. Andrews
1972Lt. Gov. J.R. NicholsonDr. Margaret A. OrmsbyCol. G.S. Andrews
1971Lt. Gov. J.R. NicholsonDr. Margaret A. OrmsbyH.R. Brammall
1970Lt. Gov. J.R. NicholsonDr. Margaret A. OrmsbyH.R. Brammall
1969Lt. Gov. J.R. NicholsonDr. Margaret A. OrmsbyMabel Jordon
1968Lt. Gov. J.R. NicholsonDr. Margaret A. OrmsbyMabel Jordon
1967Lt. Gov. G.R. PearkesDr. Margaret A. OrmsbyMabel Jordon
1966Lt. Gov. G.R. PearkesDr. Margaret A. OrmsbyDonald New
1965Lt. Gov. G.R. PearkesDr. Margaret A. OrmsbyDonald New
1964Lt. Gov. G.R. PearkesLeslie PetersonDonald New
1963Lt. Gov. G.R. PearkesLeslie PetersonMaj. H.C. Holmes
1962Lt. Gov. G.R. PearkesLeslie PetersonJohn E. Gibbard
1961Lt. Gov. G.R. PearkesLeslie PetersonF.H. Johnson
1960Lt. Gov. G.R. PearkesLeslie PetersonLois Haggen
1959Lt. Gov. F. Mackenzie RossLeslie PetersonLois Haggen
1958Lt. Gov. F. Mackenzie RossLeslie PetersonLois Haggen
1957Lt. Gov. F. Mackenzie RossLeslie PetersonW.N. Sage
1956Lt. Gov. F. Mackenzie RossRay G. WillistonRussell Potter
1955Lt. Gov. C. WallaceRay G. WillistonElsie Turnbull
1954Lt. Gov. C. WallaceRobert BonnerCapt. C.W. Cates
1953Lt. Gov. C. WallaceTilly J. RolstonH.C. Gilliland
1952Lt. Gov. C. WallaceW.T. StraithD.A. McGregor
1951Lt. Gov. C. WallaceW.T. StraithMaj. H.C. Holmes
1950Lt. Gov. C. WallaceW.T. StraithBurt R. Campbell
1949Lt. Gov. C.A. BanksW.T. StraithDr. Margaret A. Ormsby
1948Lt. Gov. C.A. BanksW.T. StraithW.E. Ireland
1947Lt. Gov. C.A. BanksG.M. WeirGeorge B. White
1946Lt. Gov. W.C. WoodwardG.M. WeirMadge Wolfenden
1945Lt. Gov. W.C. WoodwardH.G.T. PerryHelen R. Boutilier
1944Lt. Gov. W.C. WoodwardH.G.T. PerryB.A. McKelvie
1943Lt. Gov. W.C. WoodwardH.G.T. PerryB.A. McKelvie
1942Lt. Gov. W.C. WoodwardH.G.T. PerryJ.C. Goodfellow
1941Lt. Gov. Eric W. HamberG.M. WeirKenneth A. Waites
1940Lt. Gov. Eric W. HamberG.M. WeirT.A. Rickard
1939Lt. Gov. Eric W. HamberG.M. WeirJ.S. Plaskett
1938Lt. Gov. Eric W. HamberG.M. WeirW.N. Sage
1937Lt. Gov. Eric W. HamberG.M. WeirDr. W. Kaye Lamb
1936Lt. Gov. Eric W. HamberG.M. WeirDr. W. Kaye Lamb
1935Lt. Gov. J. W. F. JohnsonS.L. HoweJ.S. Plaskett
1934Lt. Gov. J. W. F. JohnsonS.L. HoweMaj. F.V. Longstaffe
1933Lt. Gov. J. W. F. JohnsonS.L. HoweCharles H. French
1932Lt. Gov. J. W. F. JohnsonS.L. HoweAlma Russell
1931Lt. Gov. J. W. F. JohnsonS.L. HoweMr. Justice A. Martin
1930Lt. Gov. R.R. BruceS.L. HoweV.L. Denton
1929Lt. Gov. R.R. BruceS.L. HoweV.L. Denton
1928Lt. Gov. R.R. BruceS.L. HoweV.L. Denton
1927Lt. Gov. R.R. BruceJ.D. MacLeanJohn Hosie
1926Lt. Gov. R.R. BruceWilliam SloanJohn Hosie
1925Lt. Gov. W.S. NicholJ.D. MacLeanJudge F.W. Howay
1924Lt. Gov. W.S. NicholJ.D. MacLeanJudge F.W. Howay
1923Lt. Gov. W.S. NicholJ.D. MacLeanJudge F.W. Howay

E.K. (Ned) De Beck, Clerk of the House (1949-1973), made the Federation President’s gavel from maple wood that came from the colonial legislature buildings often referred to as The Birdcages (1860-1898). The date this gavel was presented to the Federation is unknown.

Another mystery – what happened to the first gavel? According to the 1929 BCHA Report, on January 14, 1927, “The Hon. Mr. Justice Martin presented the Association with a gavel made from the wood of the steamer Beaver, the first steamer to traverse the waters of the Pacific Ocean.”

If you have further information about, or photos of, the gavels, please contact us.

Awards

Historical Writing Competition

Early Years of the Historical Writing Competition

By Naomi Miller, January 2008

Naomi Miller — a former BCHF president, vice-president, honorary president and editor of British Columbia History magazine, and the first chair of the Awards Committee — shares her memories of the origin of the BCHF Historical Writing Awards. 

At the conclusion of the fall 1982 Council meeting of the BC Historical Association (BCHA) [predecessor of the BCHF], Peggy Imredy observed, “Manitoba Historical has a writing competition. Why can’t we?” There was a murmur of, “Let’s think about it,” as we scrambled to assemble papers and don our coats to leave.

I traveled via Greyhound home to Golden from that meeting. That gave me plenty of time to think. By the time I got home I had written a draft plan for this possible outreach by BCHA. When this was brought to Council in 1983, John Spittle eagerly volunteered, “I have a friend in Victoria who says there is a drawer full of medals which have no definite use. I’ll see if he can give them to me for BCHA.” Don Sale, Corresponding Secretary, noted that the Lieutenant Governor, already an Honorary Patron, might be persuaded to add glory to a BC History Book Award. He added that he knew an insider in Government House who would take this thought to his boss.

In New Westminster for the 1983 Annual Conference, Rhys Richardson, Treasurer, engineered an update of bylaws and changed the BCHA name from BC Historical Association to BC Historical Federation. He also supported the proposed Writing Competition and volunteered to become a judge. Peter Miller and Don Sale enthusiastically declared they wanted to be judges. Further, an effort to change the name of our quarterly magazine was soundly defeated upon the advice of Anne Yandle.

I set some machinery in motion and the nominations for the inaugural 1983 award – one copy of each book – arrived at my address. The books were mailed on to Rhys and Don as soon as Peter had read and evaluated them. Peter formatted a checklist with spaces for comments and photocopied this page for Don and Rhys — one for each book received. Peter, among other things, counted misspelled words. This was an era of large community histories, usually by Friesen. The Valemont representative was bowled over when he was told, “236 spelling errors in your 600-page book on YELLOWHEAD.”

The judge’s meeting was fun. The evaluation sheet was praised and altered slightly. The design of Certificates of Merit was discussed, along with how to present them. Those certificates were to be signed by the President, affixed with the Federation seal and mounted in a glass frame. Vernon hosted the 1984 Annual Conference. Rhys waited until we arrived in Vernon to obtain the signatures, then Peter and I helped him frame the certificates. He had forgotten the seal, so he phoned his daughter to courier it to him in Vernon. Saturday lunch time, between tours and AGM, Kathleen polished the glass and we sealed and framed the certificates.

The first winner, Daphne Sleigh, and her hubby were given one complimentary night at the hotel but a tiny prize money. At the banquet, President Len McCann introduced me as I was eating my first bite of dinner. Col. Gerry Andrews, Honorary President, presented the first medal. It was a pin-on style and he pricked Daphne very lightly.

Rhys gave up being a judge after a couple of years so Mary Rawson was recruited. She improved the input of books by contacting the various publishing houses. From then on almost all entries came direct from publisher. Later, Peter dropped out and was replaced by Daphne Baldwin of Prince George. Helen and Philip Akrigg donated some money to increase the worth of the Lieutenant Governor’s prize. I gave up the chair of the Awards Committee in 1988 and Pamela Mar took it over. Pamela made some very sensible changes to the rules and procedures.

Pamela served as chair from 1988 to 1995 then twisted the arm of Pixie McGeachie.

Don Sale continued as Writing Competition judge until 1987 when he was 80 years old. One year he knew he was slated for surgery on his legs so planned to read and read during his convalescence. After this episode he playfully created a new characteristic for evaluation – size of book – because “this book was too big to be read in bed.”

The Lieutenant Governor has presented the award several times since the competition commenced. David Lam gave us tea at Government House in 1989. Garde Gardom came to Conference 2001 in Richmond. Iona Campagnolo presented in Prince George 2003 and in Government House in Victoria 2007. [The Lieutenant Governor has since presented the award in 2009, 2012-2014 and 2016-2017.]

In 1989, we chose two winners, Bridget Moran from Prince George and Peter Waite from Halifax, because we wanted to be sure that at least one winner could attend. Both were pleased to attend and be honored.


The Competition in Later Years

In 2014, the BCHF added the Community History Award to the Competition to recognize the importance of preserving local histories as well as broader provincial histories.

YearAuthorBook TitlePublisher
2017Dr. Ben BradleyBritish Columbia by the Road: Car Culture and the Making of a Modern LandscapeUBC Press
2016Anthony KenyonThe Recorded History of the Liard Basin 1790-1910Fort Nelson News Ltd.
2015Ronald A. GreeneCarlo Gentile, Gold Rush Photographer, 1863-1866Green Frogg Press
2014Mark Forsythe & Greg DicksonFrom the West Coast to the Western Front: British Columbians and the Great WarHarbour Publishing
2013Ralph DrewForest & Fjord: The History of BelcarraRalph Drew
2012Derek HayesBritish Columbia: A New Historical AtlasDouglas & McIntyre
2011Chuck DavisThe Chuck Davis History of Metropolitan VancouverHarbour Publishing
2010Sylvia OlsenWorking with Wool: A Coast Salish Legacy and the Cowichan Sweater Sono Nis Press
2009Andrew ScottEncyclopedia of Raincoast Place Names: A Complete Reference to Coastal British ColumbiaHarbour Publishing
2008Eric JamiesonTragedy at Second Narrows: The Story of the Ironworkers Memorial BridgeHarbour Publishing
2007Judy ThompsonRecording Their Story: James Tiet and the TahltanUniversity of Washington Press
2006K. Jane WattHigh Water: Living with the Fraser FloodsDairy Industry Historical Society of BC.
2005Derek HayesHistorical Atlas of Vancouver and the Lower Fraser ValleyDouglas & McIntyre
2004Nancy J. TurnerPlants of Haida GwaiiSono Nis Press
2003Jean BarmanSojourning Sisters: The Lives and Letters of Jessie and Annie McQueenUniversity of Toronto Press
2002Francis MansbridgeLaunching History: The Saga of Burrard Dry DockHarbour Publishing
2001Milton ParentCircle of SilverArrow Lakes Historical Society
2000Richard Sommerset MackieIsland Timber: A Social History of the Comox Logging Company, Vancouver IslandSono Nis Press
1999Lilia D’Acres & Donald LuxtonLions GateTalonbooks
1998Kathryn BridgeBy Snowshoe, Buckboard and Steamer: Women of the FrontierSono Nis Press
1997Richard Somerset MackieTrading Beyond the Mountains: The British Fur Trade on the Pacific 1793–1843UBC Press
1996Richard J. Cannings and Sydney G. CanningsBritish Columbia: A Natural HistoryDouglas & McIntyre
1995Christine Frances Dickinson & Diane Solie SmithAtlin: The Story of British Columbia’s Last Gold RushAtlin Historical Society
1994Tom HenryThe Good Company: An Affectionate History of the Union SteamshipsHarbour Publishing
1993Allison MitchamTaku: The Heart of North America’s Last Great WildernessLancelot Press Ltd.
1992James R. GibsonOtter Skins, Boston Ships and China GoodsMcGill-Queens University Press
1991Geoff MeggsSalmon: The Decline of the West Coast FisheryDouglas & McIntyre
1990Paul TennantAboriginal People and Politics: The Indian Land Question in British Columbia, 1849-1989UBC Press
1989John HaymanRobert Brown and the Vancouver Island Exploring ExpeditionUBC Press
1988Peter B. WaiteLord of Point Grey: Larry MacKenzie of UBCUBC Press
1988Bridget MoranStoney Creek Woman - Sai’k’uz Ts’eke: The Story of Mary JohnArsenal Pulp Press
1987Lynn BowenThree Dollar DreamsOolichan Books
1986Charles LillardSeven Shillings a Year: The History of Vancouver IslandHorsdal & Shubart Publishers
1985John NorrisOld Silverton, British Columbia: 1891-1930Silverton Historical Soceity
1984Barry M. GoughGunboat Frontier: British Maritime Authority and Northwest Coast Indians, 1846–1890UBC Press
1983Daphne SleighDiscovering Deroche: From Nicomen to Lake ErrockBritish Columbia Heritage Trust

The Lieutenant Governor is the Honorary Patron of the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Historical Writing and has presented the medal in person at the following Annual Conference Awards Galas:

  • 1989 – Victoria
  • 2001 – Richmond
  • 2003 – Prince George
  • 2007 – Victoria
  • 2009 – Nelson
  • 2012 – Campbell River
  • 2013 – Kamloops
  • 2014 – Cloverdale
  • 2016 – Revelstoke
  • 2017 – Chilliwack
Year(s)Historical Writing Awards Chair
2014-presentMaurice Guibord
2011-2014Bill Morrison
2006-2010Barb Hynek
2004-2005Bob Mukai
2003Helmi Braches
1998-2002Shirley Cuthbertson
1995-1997Pixie McGeachie
1988-1994Pamela Mar
1983-1987Naomi Miller

Other Awards

The W. Kaye Lamb Award is presented to outstanding post-secondary student essays relating to the history of British Columbia. The award has been presented since 2000. In 2004, the BCHF introduced two award categories: one for students in their first or second year of study, the other for students in their third or fourth year of study.

YearRecipient - First or Second Year of StudyRecipient - Third or Fourth Year of Study
2017No submissionsNimrit Toor, UBC, 3rd year Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice. Project: The South Okanagan Punjabi Community
2012No submissionsKatherine Hill, University of British Columbia, "Our Neon Nightmare: the Role of the Civic Arts Committee in Dismantling Vancouver’s Sign Jungle, 1957-1974"
2011Bruce Dyck, Langara College, "The Fringe: 1201-1299 West Georgia" (Published in British Columbia History 45.3, Fall 2012)

Honourable Mention: Jo F. Coffey, Okanagan College (Salmon Arm), "William A.C. Bennett: A Man and Premier for the Time, 1951-1972"
Alice Huang, University of British Columbia, "A Potlatch of Provincial Proportions: The Representation and Participation of Aboriginal Peoples in the British Columbia Centennial of 1958" (Published in British Columbia History 45.2, Summer 2012)

Honourable Mention: Kelsey Siemens, University of the Fraser Valley, "The Mennonite Menace: Perceptions of Conscientious Objectors in the Fraser Valley, 1939-1946"
2010Chantal Morin, Langara College, "Home in the Midst of Industry: A Land-Use History of the 500 Block of Alexander Street [Vancouver]" (Published in British Columbia History 43.4, Winter 2010)Jeremy Buddenhagen, University of Victoria, "Wi’an: The Kwakwaka’wakw Art of War"


Honorable Mention: Katrina Andres, University of Victoria, "For Pulp, For People Too: A Case Study of Gold River, British Columbia’s First Instant Town"
AND
Racan Souiedan, Simon Fraser University, "Serving the Sheltered Waterways: Conflicting Impulses within the British Columbia Ferry Corporation, 1958-1980"
2009Timothy R. Noddings, Camosun College, "Douglas the Pragmatist"Marie-Eve Daunais, University of British Columbia, "Vancouver’s Street Trees: A Public Affair" (Published in British Columbia History 42.3, Fall 2009)
2008Jeremy Buddenhagen, Camosun College, “The Evolution of Security Intelligence in British Columbia, 1820-1900” (Published in British Columbia History 42.1, Spring 2009)Jennifer Cador, University of Victoria, “Spiritual Designer: Emily Carr, Religious Innovation and the Boundaries of Society”
2007Shannon Lucy, University of Victoria, “Agricultural Societies and Farmers’ Institutes in Nineteenth-Century British Columbia”Susan Ritchie, University of Victoria, “Field Correspondence Sheds Light: McIlwrath’s Letters on His Own Monograph”
AND
Tessa Stiven, University of Victoria, “Representing Space as Place: Property Dialogues in the McKenna/McBride Royal Commission, 1913-1915”
2006No submissionsRamona C. Boyle, University of Victoria, “The Hudson’s Bay Company in Barkerville: 1867–1871”
2005Christopher Friesen, Camosun College, “The Development of Air-Mail Services in British Columbia, 1937–1938”Leanne Doolan, University of British Columbia, “The Gay Rights Movement Meets the Judiciary: An Examination of the Landmark Gay Rights Case GATE v. The Vancouver Sun”
2004Jamie McAllister, University of British Columbia, “Douglas Jung: Re-evaluating a Political Career Lost to Ethnic Appropriation”Marla Coulas, University of British Columbia, “Recreating Maillardville’s Historic Identity: Representations of the Past in the Public Domain”
2003Brenda Smith, Douglas College, “But I’ve Got Two Homes Now: Monica Storrs and the Missionary
 Ideal” (Published in British Columbia History 43.3, Fall 2010)Karen Sawatzky, University of Victoria, “The British Columbia Assessment Act of 1876 and its role in State Formation”
YearRecipient - All Years of Study
2002Marki Sellers, Simon Fraser University, ”Negotiations for Control and Unlikely Partnerships: Fort Rupert, 1849-1851” (Published in British Columbia Historical News 36.1, Winter 2003)
2001Kimberly Boehr, Okanagan University-College, "’Individual Acts of Kindness’ and Political Influence: Alice Parke’s Experience with the Vernon Women’s Council" (Published in British Columbia Historical News 35.2, Spring 2002)
2000Julie Stevens, University of British Columbia, “Letters from Montney: An Insight to the Rural Teaching Experience in Early Twentieth Century BC” (Published in British Columbia Historical News 34.2, Spring 2001)

Conference

YearDatesLocationThemePhotos
2018May 24-27NakuspHistory. Springs. Eternal.Photos - 2018
2017May 25-28ChilliwackLand, Water, PeoplePhotos - 2017
2016May 26-29RevelstokePhotos - 2016
2015May 21-23QuesnelJourney to the CaribooPhotos - 2015
2014CloverdalePhotos - 2014
2013May 9-12KamloopsPhotos - 2013
2012May 3-10Campbell RiverPhotos - 2012
2011May 5-25Powell RiverPhotos - 2011
2010May 6-21VancouverPhotos - 2010
2009NelsonPhotos - 2009
2008New WestminsterPhotos - 2008
2007Victoria
2006Kimberley
2005Kelowna
2004Nanaimo
2003Prince George (University of Northern British Columbia)
2002Revelstoke
2001Richmond
2000Port Alberni
1999Merritt
1998Surrey
1997Nelson
1996Williams Lake
1995Chilliwack
1994Parksville/Qualicum
1993Kamloops
1992Burnaby
1991Duncan
1990Grand Forks
1989Victoria
1988Banff, Alberta (joint BC-Alberta conference)
1987Mission
1986Vancouver (University of British Columbia)
1985Galiano Island
1984Vernon
1983New Westminster
1982Duncan (Cowichan Bay)
1981Cranbrook
1980Princeton
1979Nanaimo
1978Burnaby (Simon Fraser University)
1977Burnaby
1976Victoria
1975Campbell River
1974Cranbrook
1973Vancouver (University of British Columbia)
1972Port Alberni
1971Victoria
1970Nanaimo
1969Penticton
1968Victoria