Series GR-3264 - Bureau of Mines photograph albums

Truck used by George Clothier, Department of Mines Resident Engineer, bogged down on Dease Lake r... Logging. Mining for gold by hand. Unidentified mining operations "Direction for closing sample bottles containing mine air..."; miscellaneous B album. Department of Mines albums. Hydraulic mining; Department of Mines albums. Department of Mines albums. Department of Mines albums. Department of Mines albums. Department of Mines albums. Department of Mines albums. "Cottonwood House (1927) F.V.L." Department of Mines albums. Department of Mines albums. Department of Mines albums. Department of Mines albums. Department of Mines albums. Department of Mines albums. Department of Mines albums. "Willow Creek Ditch"; Department of Mines albums. Department of Mines albums. Department of Mines albums. Department of Mines albums. Department of Mines albums. Department of Mines albums. Department of Mines albums. Department of Mines albums. Department of Mines albums. Department of Mines albums.
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Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Bureau of Mines photograph albums

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  • graphic material
  • textual record

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the content of the series.

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Dates of creation area


  • [188-?]-1936, 1966 (Creation)
    British Columbia. Dept. of Mines

Physical description area

Physical description

ca. 5500 photographs and 1 cm of textual records

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Biographical history

The Dept. of Mines was established in 1899 in accordance with the Department of Mines Act (SBC 1899, c. 48). Prior to that, the earliest regulation of mining in the province was implemented under the Gold Fields Proclamation of 1859 with the appointment of two gold commissioners by Governor James Douglas for the Colony of British Columbia. A gold commissioner was first appointed in 1864 for the Colony of Vancouver Island. The commissioners registered claims, issued licenses and adjudicated disputes with the advice and aid of elected district mining boards.

The establishment of a provincial government with British Columbia’s entry into Confederation ultimately led to a Minister of Mines Act (SBC 1874, c. 16) in 1874. The Provincial Secretary also served as the Minister of Mines. In 1895, the Bureau of Mines Act 1895 (SBC 1895, c. 3) brought together all government offices connected with the mining industry. A provincial mineralogist was appointed who reported to the Provincial Secretary and Minister of Mines.

In 1899, the Department of Mines Act created a separate department and minister. The Bureau of Mines remained in place as the technical division of the department and was also responsible for the certification for assayists. Revisions to the Department of Mines Act in 1934 and 1937 abolished the bureau and completely reorganized and centralized the department, dividing the functions into four branches: Administration Branch under the chief gold commissioner; Assay Branch under the chief analyst and assayer; Mineralogical Branch under the chief mining engineer; and Mines Inspection Branch under the chief inspector of mines. The department had responsibility for all matters affecting mining, including the collection, publication and circulation of information relating to mining, administration of all mining laws, and the operation and maintenance of the Provincial Assay Office, laboratories, sampling plants, and the maintenance of the Museum of Minerals.

The functions and responsibilities of the department remained relatively stable until 1953 when responsibility for administration of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Act and the Coal Act was transferred from the Department of Lands and Forests. A Petroleum and Natural Gas Branch, headed by the Chief Petroleum Engineer, was established and the department was renamed the Department of Mines and Petroleum Resources in 1960 (SBC 1960, c. 107).

Custodial history

Scope and content

The series consists of photographs taken by or collected by the Bureau of Mines, where they were compiled into 30 photograph albums. Some of the albums, or parts of the albums, were compiled at the end of the year's work and were intended by the Provincial Mineralogist to document his annual summer field work throughout the province.

Many of the photographs were published each year in Department bulletins and in the Annual Report of the Minister of Mines. There is a coding in the albums which indicates that a photograph was used in the Annual Report. For example, “R1925 - A182” signifies that the photograph was used in the 1925 Annual Report of the Minister of Mines on page A182. Each Annual Report of the Minister contains narrative descriptions of the field trips taken by the Provincial Mineralogist and other Bureau of Mines staff, so it is possible to trace the relationship each year between these field trip narratives and the photographs.

W. Fleet Robertson (Provincial Mineralogist from 1898 to 1925) took some of the photographs. Beginning ca. 1906, Harold T. Nation was an assistant to the Provincial Mineralogist, and travelled with him on his summer field trips, taking photographs, compiling many of the photo albums and indexing them. Exceptions were the years 1914-1917, when Nation served in the military in Europe, after which he returned to his former position. Others from the Bureau of Mines who contributed to the creation of the albums include: W.A. Carlyle, (W. Fleet Robertson's predecessor as Provincial Mineralogist); J.D. Galloway (Robertson's successor); Herbert Carmichael (an Assistant Mineralogist); and Newton W. Emmens. They took photographs or directed that photos be taken to document their work in the field. Many photographs are labeled “B.C. Bureau of Mines” but the photographer is not identified.

Some of the albums, or parts of albums, appear to have been compiled, not an annual basis, but at a later date, and were labeled “miscellaneous.” They relate to the mining industry, geology, mineralogy, and local culture, but are not related to the annual field trips. The Provincial Mineralogist's office collected some of these from private sources including mining companies and miners. Professional photographers whose work is found in the albums include: R.J. Hughes (Trail, BC), Hughes Bros. (Trail, BC), Joseph F. Spalding (Fernie, BC), Carpenter & Co. (Rossland, BC), Carpenter & Millar (Rossland, BC), The Dominion Photo Company (Vancouver), Richard H. Trueman (R.H. Trueman & Co., Vancouver), E.F. Tucker, and Leonard Frank. There are a small number of photos taken by Charles Camsell of the Geological Survey of Canada, 1911, so it is possible others were taken by federal government employees.

Subjects include a very wide range of industrial and cultural activities and geographic features. These include: mines and mining operations and equipment; mining camps, prospectors, miners' houses, powder magazines, first aid teams, fire brigades, mine rescue squads and stations; immigrant workers; refineries, smelters, coke ovens, concentrators, brickyards, slag dumps and tailings; railways and rail trestles; boats, scows, ships, and dredging; landscape and terrain features including rivers and mountain ranges; mining industry towns, schools, hospitals, hotels, churches, government offices and wireless offices; First Nations activities and culture, including totem poles, grave sites, and villages; whaling and whaling stations; horse pack trains, Hudson's Bay Company posts; and conferences and congresses attended by Bureau of Mines staff.

Many of the photos are annotated with directions for the printing/publication process. Many are pieced together to create panoramas. Some albums have accompanying individual indexes and some have been indexed in the master alphabetical index.

Container No. Photograph Album
001302-0001 -- Bureau of Mines photographs miscellaneous album, H.T. Nation [album misc. B] ca. 188-?-1919
001302-0002 -- Bureau of Mines D, photographs ca. 1898-1917
001302-0003 -- B.C. Bureau of Mines [E] miscellaneous photographs compiled from October 1927
001302-0004 -- 1895 Bureau of Mines [photo album 29]
001302-0005 -- 1896 Bureau of Mines
001302-0006 -- Bureau of Mines, 1897-1898
001302-0007 -- Bureau of Mines photos 1898, 1899, 1900
001302-0008 -- Dept. of Mines, 1901, 1899-1901
001302-0009 -- Bureau of Mines 1902
001302-0010 -- Bureau of Mines, 1903, Victoria, B.C.
001302-0011 -- Photographs : 1905
001302-0012 -- Bureau of Mines photos collected during 1909 [Harold T. Nation]
001302-0013 -- 1907 Bureau of Mines, Victoria B.C.
001302-0014 -- 1908 photos by Bureau of Mines, Victoria B.C.
001302-0015 -- Odd photos collected in the Provincial Mineralogist's office, entered Nov. 1910
001302-0016 -- Summer trip of the Provincial Mineralogist to the Bulkley and Telkwa Rivers and the Slocan Mining Division, 1911
001302-0017 -- Provincial Mineralogist trip to Cassiar, 1912.
001302-0018 -- Photos for 1913 report, taken by W.F. Robertson, B.G. Forbes, W.M. Brewer, J.D. Galloway
001302-0019 - 1914 photos. Photos with report of Newton W. Emmens on Trout Lake & Lardeau 1914
001302-0020 -- [Bureau of Mines photo album 1915]
001302-0021 -- Photographs : Dept. of Mines album 1916
001302-0022 -- Photographs : Bureau of Mines 1917-1918-1919
001302-0023 -- Photographs : Bureau of Mines 1920-21
001302-0024 -- Photos received at the Bureau of Mines during 1921 & 1922, compiled by Harold T. Nation
001302-0025 -- 1923 current photos, Bureau of Mines, 1920-1925
001302-0026 -- Dept. of Mines album : photos 1925 continued, 1926, 1925-1926
001302-0027 -- Bureau of Mines photographs 1926 (continued), 1927, 1922-1928
001302-0028 -- Bureau of Mines, Victoria, B.C. misc. photos, compiled by Harold T. Nation, 1927 [misc. album C], 1895-1927
001302-0029 -- Bureau of Mines photographs, 1926-1930, 1966
001302-0030 -- Dept. of Mines album 1930, [ca. 1930-1936]

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

The albums were transferred to the Archives on November 29, 1961 by A.F. Shepherd, Assistant Geologist, Department of Mines and Petroleum Resources. Some of the albums are stamped “B.C. Department of Mines Library.” It can be assumed they were at some point held by that library.


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Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

No access restrictions apply.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

All photographs were created prior to January 1, 1949, and are in the public domain.

Finding aids

The accession file contains an alphabetical subject index for the photographs up to 1927.

Associated materials

For related records see:
GR-3353 Bureau of Mines, Mineral Survey and Mineralogical Branch photographs
GR-4099 Bureau of Mines negatives and lantern slides

Related materials


General note

Accession number(s): 198604-010

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