Family: Bonds and BelongingRead

From the Royal BC Museum

Primary Source Documents from the Royal BC Museum and Archives

Read a letter from young Dirk Fraser, who attended Vernon Preparatory School from 1938 to 1941. He wrote many letters to his mother about his adventures at the boarding school. Click here to see an image of the original letter in Dirk’s own handwriting. View the letter within the archives collection here (BCA MS-2805, box 1, file 2).

Read a typed version of Richard’s diary. At just 18 years old, Richard Alexander came to BC looking for gold. He travelled overland from Ontario with four others. It was a difficult and dangerous trek that took seven months. Richard finally arrived in New Westminster in 1862, starving and broke, with just the homemade hide shirt on his back. Click here to see an image of Richard’s original diary entries. Listen to the diary entries being read aloud here. View the diary within the archives collection here

Read on for articles about families in BC, research tips and links to other sites.

Curator of Human History Dr. Tzu-I Chung writes about the Guichon Family Ranchers in Our Roots are Here.

Dr. Tzu-I Chung finds a link between a collection of artifacts and a local Victoria family, giving us a better understanding of Victoria’s Chinese Canadian history.

Curator of Ethnology Dr. Martha Black writes about the Kitty White Collection in this 2015 edition of Curious.

This spring 2017 edition of the Royal BC Museum’s Curious was edited and written by Indigenous writers. The themes of family and personal identity are present in many of the articles. 

Where to Begin Your Own Research

Visit the Finding Families Pathway about how to research your family history in the BC Archives. 

There is research information on the BC Archives website.

If you need additional help from archives staff, you can call us toll free at 1-888-447-7977 from Monday to Friday, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.  Press ‘0’ for the operator and ask to talk with archives staff. You can also email your questions to

Outside Links

These links will take you away from the Learning Portal. Come back soon!

Open School BC has created a new teacher and student resource called Bamboo Shoots: Chinese Canadian Legacies in BC. The resource includes an extensive collection of in-class activities using primary source material and research. Lessons focus on important Chinese Canadian milestones and examine daily life for Chinese Canadian families in late 19th-century and early 20th-century Victoria, as well as considering Chinese immigration experiences in Canada from 1853 to 1923 and 1947 to 1960.

Written by Sylvia Olsen and illustrated by Joan Larson.

Yetsa’s Sweater is a children’s book that explores one family’s experience “with an old but vibrant tradition: the creation of Cowichan sweaters. Each sweater is unique, and its design tells a story. In Yetsa’s Sweater, that story is one of love, welcome and pride in a job well done.”

The amateur films of Mathew Ko offer a rare glimpse into Chinese Canadian family life from the 1930s through to the 1950s. The footage includes scenes from Chinatown in Victoria, elsewhere on Vancouver Island and the city of Vancouver, as well as from locations across the Lower Mainland.