The BCHF is saddened to announce that we have lost a long-standing member of the Friends of the BC Archives, and past president and program director of the Vancouver Historical Society. Dr. Robert A. J. (Bob) McDonald, an eminent BC historian, passed away on 18 June in Vancouver.
Bob joined the Friends in 2000 and held membership #53. He utilized records in the BC Archives in his many publications about the history of business, labour and politics in BC.
He was the author and editor of four books, over a dozen peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and many book reviews and occasional essays. His first book, a collection of essays co-edited with Peter Ward and entitled British Columbia: historical readings (1981), was a mainstay in BC undergraduate history courses for many years. A second collection co-edited with Jean Barman, entitled Readings in the history of British Columbia (1989), was also popular with students and teachers. His monograph, Making Vancouver: Class, Status, and Social Boundaries, 1863-1913 (1996), was hailed as a “groundbreaking study” in the field of urban history. He was the editor of the scholarly journal BC Studies from 2002 to 2008.
In recognition of his meritorious publications and exceptional contributions to regional history, the Canadian Historical Association awarded him its Clio Achievement Prize for British Columbia in 2011.
Bob was an active and enthusiastic member of the Friends. In February 2008 he gave a talk entitled “A Certain Slackness in Administrative Procedures: BC’s Civil Service 1870s -1940s,” about “blatant pandering to patronage” in BC. His talk was reworked as an article in BC Studies. He also participated in a symposium sponsored by the Friends in November 2008, with a paper on how BC’s 1958 provincial centennial celebrations were a symbol of “modernism” in our province. His presentations and talks were always edifying, instructive and entertaining.