Royal BC Museum Front (Wiki Media)

Museum makes historic Indian Reserve Commission document accessible to public

Ledger details decisions that led to creation of reserves on Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island

The Royal BC Museum is making a historic ledger documenting decisions from the Indian Reserve Commission accessible to Indigenous communities and all British Columbians.

The book from 1876 – Volume One of the “Journal of Proceedings” – was acquired by the museum in 2018 from a private seller for $15,000 and has been digitized. It details decisions between the Joint Provincial and Federal Indian Reserve Commission and Indigenous elders and chiefs on lands later designated as reserves on the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.

Established in 1875, the Joint Indian Reserve Commission was created by the governments of Canada and B.C. to fix boundaries of Indian Reserves in the province. According to the Royal BC Museum, it is believed no other copy of Volume One exists.

The book is comprised of daily entries from November 1876 to June 1877 by the three-person committee made up of Alexander Caulfield Anderson, Archibald McKinlay and Gilber Malcom Sproat. The three met with Indigenous communities on the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island to discuss the creation of reserves, according to the Royal BC Museum.

READ ALSO: Royal BC Museum asks for pandemic stories, photos for COVID-19 exhibit

The first quarter of the volume contains several small, coloured ink drawings of reserves on the mainland. The maps for Vancouver Island are more roughly sketched in black ink, likely by a different person according to the Royal BC Museum. At various points in the volume, correspondence and accounts of statements by Indigenous peoples, settlers and personal letters have been placed between pages.

While the ledger’s core information is preserved elsewhere in official records, it was not microfilmed or digitized until now.

“It is an interesting read, providing new insight into the work of the Joint Reserve Commission,” said Dianne Hinkley, research director for the Cowichan Tribes and a member of the Royal BC Museum’s Indigenous Advisory and Advocacy Committee.

Chief executive of the Royal BC Museum Jack Lohman said the volume reflects the process of colonialism and serves as the official record of meetings and dates of decisions at each community.

“The Royal BC Museum anticipates the volume will be of great interest to Indigenous communities in B.C. documented within, and we will ensure all British Columbians have access to the contents,” Lohman said.

Librarian and Archivist of Canada Leslie Weir said the second volume of the ledger has been digitized by Library and Archives Canada as part of its We Are Here: Sharing Stories initiative.

READ ALSO: Repatriation efforts work to heal and connect through history: Royal BC Museum

“[Library and Archives Canada] acknowledges the significance of these two volumes for recognizing the history of First Nations in British Columbia,” Weir said, adding that they aim to increase access to Indigenous-related content in its collection “as part of its commitment to move forward on the path toward reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and the Metis Nation.”

Royal BC Museum staff have photographed, digitized and described the contents of Volume One and the journal is available to the public at search-bcarchives.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/joint-indian-reserve-commission-journal-of-proceedings-volume-i.

A finding aid listing all of the Indigenous communities visited by the Commission is also available here and a

a comprehensive webpage about the volume here.

shalu.mehta@blackpress.ca


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

IndigenousRoyal BC Museum

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

CRD explores option to use Oak Bay Lodge for people who are homeless

Motion asks staff to work with BC Housing, Island Health on possibilities

Public tips lead to arrest in alleged random assault on Victoria bus

June 19 incident was recorded by onboard camera

Woman who talked to unconscious husband, a Victoria police officer, for 30 years focus of study

Ian Jordan suffered a head injury when he and another officer were on their way to a call in Victoria in September 1987

B.C. residents can go to the Royal BC Museum for half price all summer

Museum reopening in phases, COVID-19 measures in place

Sidney asking tourists to respect health guidelines

Messaging says Sidney is ‘excited to welcome smart, safe, and respectful visits’

VIDEO: Victoria’s Raging Grannies call for end to public funding of for-profit senior homes

Organizer says COVID-19 has made senior home issues more apparent

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 7

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Would you get a vaccine for COVID-19 when it is available?

With the number of positive COVID-19 tests skyrocketing across much of the… Continue reading

Campaign aims to raise $50K for young family of deceased Vancouver Island skydiver

James Smith, 34, died July 5 following incident in Nanoose Bay

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

B.C. ports part of data integration project to protect marine ecosystems

The $1.2 M federally funded program will draw crucial baseline data from Canada’s three coastlines

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

Most Read