Series MS-1290 - John Douglas Leechman papers

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John Douglas Leechman papers

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  • 1924-1978 (Creation)
    Leechman, John Douglas, 1890-1980

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Originals, 6.9 m

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Biographical history

Douglas Leechman was born in England and was educated in the United Kingdom, Egypt and Switzerland. In 1917 Leechman came to Canada and entered the University of Washington in 1918 to pursue a career in Library Science. In 1924 he took a position in the Anthropology Division of the National Museum of Canada, where he remained until 1955, when he became the first Director of the Glenbow Foundation in Calgary, Alberta. He retired in 1957 and moved to Victoria, B.C.

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John Douglas Leechman, anthropologist and author, was born in London, England on December 20, 1890. Educated in the United Kingdom, Egypt and Switzerland, Leechman emigrated to Canada in his youth, served with the Canadian Mounted Rifles in the First World War and, after demobilization in 1917, apprenticed at the Victoria Public Library. In 1918, Leechman enrolled at the University of Washington to pursue a degree in Library Science but left the university prior to completing his degree. In 1924, while residing in Victoria, he applied for and won a position with the Anthropology Division of the National Museum of Canada in Ottawa, where he remained until 1955. During his thirty one years in Ottawa, Leechman spent part of his free time teaching evening courses in journalism at Carleton University and acquiring his BSc., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. In 1955 Leechman left the National Museum to become the first Director of the Glenbow Foundation in Calgary. He retired from this position in 1957, moved to Victoria and was shortly thereafter engaged by the Federal Government to aid in the restoration of Fort Langley and Fort Prince of Wales. When asked of his recreational activities and favorite pastimes, Leechman replied "writing". His years teaching journalism at Carlton and his extensive bibliography of about five hundred titles, attest to his leisure time pursuits. Leechman's co-authorship of the Dictionary of Canadianisms (1967), his activities, since 1968, as a Canadian consultant for the Oxford English Dictionary and his compilation of an extensive glossary of fur trade terms, found within this body of papers, are further testimony to his recreational pursuits and lexicographical interests. Dr. Leechman, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, died in Victoria in 1980. The bulk of the records consist of Leechman's theses dealing with native peoples and literature, his personal correspondence files (1925-1978) and typescripts of material submitted for publication including articles, books, radio scripts, and reviews. The records also include an extensive unpublished glossary of fur trade terms, the "Dictionary of Canadian English" which never appeared in print as a unit but became part of the Dictionary of Canadianisms; glossary notes for the Oxford English Dictionary and journalism lecture notes. Historical subject files which include material relating to Fort Langley, domestic files, diplomas, certificates, and some of his wife Ruth's general correspondence and committee files have been preserved. The records also contain some archaeological field notes relating to Leechman's study of the Cape Dorset Inuit culture as well as his field notes of archaeological sites in B.C. and the Yukon. The BC Archives library has catalogued some of Leechman's publications.

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The records were donated to the Provincial Archives of British Columbia in 1978 by John Douglas Leechman.


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General note

Photographs were transferred to Visual Records, accession 198501-14.

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Maps were transferred to the Map Division, accession numbers A17483-A17485, A17435 and B17438.

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The Sound and Moving Image Division accessioned both a print of his award winning film, The Loon's Necklace, F1981:16 and audio tape recordings of his CBC radio series, T3888.

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Accession number(s): MS-1290; 78-132; 78-210; 198501-014

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