This Week in History: Royal BC Museum is conserving and digitizing BC’s Trapline Maps


The B.C. Archives provides access for both government and public researchers to records documenting the history of this province.

Some of these items are fragile, and must be digitized to save the important information.

And that job often falls to Lauren Buttle, a paper conservator at the Royal B.C. Museum.

“Generally anything coming out of, or going into, the institution comes through one of the conservation labs,” says Buttle.

“The job of each conservator is to assess each item based on physical and chemical stability.”

“So I want to ensure that it’s safe for the reader, and for the record, to be handled, or in this case to be photographed and digitized.”

Buttle’s aim is to ensure she does not change the look of the original document.

“The best conservation treatments are the ones that you can’t actually see.”

One of the Museum’s on-going digitization projects is B.C.’s trapline maps.

These maps date from 1909 to the late 60’s, and outline areas registered to licensed trappers.

The maps were heavily used, and digitization will ensure they can be viewed without further wear and tear.

“The purpose of conservation work is not to make it look brand new,” says Buttle.  “I’m trying to keep the feel, keep the original condition.”

There are hundreds of trapline maps to be digitized.

Buttle will patiently assess and treat the damage to ensure future generations can view, digitally, these historic documents.

Veronica CooperVeronica Cooper

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