This Week in History: Books published by the Royal BC Museum


When John Fannin, the Royal BC Museum’s first curator, published his Check List of British Columbia Birds in 1891, he set in motion a publishing program that has engaged and informed British Columbians for nearly 128 years.

Since that first publication, the Royal BC Museum has released hundreds of works on diverse subjects, bringing the human and natural history of this province to life in exciting, innovative and personal ways.

“We have been publishing books, as I understand it, since we have been a museum,” says the Royal BC Museum Publisher.

“Over the last 150 years, we’ve been steadily upping our game, with improved production standards, improved distribution, expanded topics, and different kinds of books.”

So where do the ideas for the various book topics come from?

“Traditionally,” says the publisher, “the ideas have come mostly from within the Museum, either people doing research in our collections, or people working within the Museum.”

Such as a recent publication, the Indigenous Repatriation Handbook.

“We published it earlier this spring,” says the publisher, “and I’m really excited about this book, just because of what it represents.  The fact that it’s written by, and for, Indigenous people, and specifically for Indigenous communities who are working with museums to have their treasures and their ancestors returned to their communities.”

There are also two new books that were published this fall.

“So the first one is Great Expectations, Reflections on Museums in Canada by our CEO Jack Lohman.  It’s a series of lectures and essays that Jack has given over the years that sort of articulate his vision for where museums in Canada could or should be going.

“Another is Once Well Beloved, Remembering a British Columbia Great War Sacrifice.  It’s another smaller book, that tells the story of 12 men from the Nicola Valley in Interior BC who died in the First World War.”

Two more books will be published next spring.  One is a handbook on sharks, skates, rays and chimeras of British Columbia.

“The other one that we’re publishing is to accompany our upcoming Orcas exhibition, and it’s called Spirits of the Coast: Orcas in Science, Art and History, and I’m incredibly excited about this one. It’s going to be a hard cover, but small enough for people to pick up and put in their luggage as a souvenir from the exhibition.”

The public is encouraged to pop into the Royal Museum shop to look through the book collection, or shop online.

Veronica CooperVeronica Cooper

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