I find all our collections unique in their own way, but recently I processed one that stood out. It transported me to a British Columbia I wish I could have seen. This summer, the Leonard G. McCann Archives had the honour of acquiring the Brown-John & Rumley photograph collection. The collection of 64 photographs taken between 1937 and 1945 is digitized and can be viewed on our online database.

The photos tell the story of the Rumley and Brown-John families before and during World War II. Both families were heavily involved in the coastal life of British Columbia. The images provide nostalgic glimpses into a life centred around the ocean.

Featured in many of the images are sepia-toned views of popular locales on the B.C. coast. These include Half Moon Bay, Sechelt, Secret Cove, and Hardwicke Island, to name a few.

Lumberman's Arch

Lumberman’s Arch (VMM71.06)

Of particular interest may be a 1938 shot of Lumberman’s Arch. The background of the shot show Lions Gate Bridge still under construction.

Florence Benson in front of their float house (VMM71.34)

The collection also contains images of the friends that the Rumley and Brown-John families made in their travels along the coast. They spent time with loggers and other seafarers. We see them lounging on small family boats or dipping their feet in the water in front of their homes. Sometimes they’re barefoot. Often they’re smiling. The images tell a story of community and camaraderie and a shared love of the maritime world that brought family and friends together.

The donor of the collection is a young man in several of the photographs. He has relocated to Ontario, but he describes himself as “still dreaming of the British Columbia coast.” The collection makes it easy to see why.