In recent years, the MOV has received funding from the BC History Digitization Program, run by the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre at UBC. The aim of the program is to promote increased access to British Columbia’s historical resources. For us, that means photographing the objects in our collection and making those images accessible to the public at openmov.museumofvancouver.ca. This year’s round of digitization focused on objects from the Vancouver History Collection. Two sets of artefacts in particular caught my eye. They both involve long-standing Vancouver institutions (though one is now defunct) awarding their employees with jewelry for extended years of service.
The first set, comprised of a tie clip, keychain, and a ring, belonged to Eric Nicol. Though born in Kingston, ON, Nicol’s family moved to BC when he was two and he was truly a Vancouver boy, attending high school at Lord Byng and university at UBC. After a few years away in Europe, he returned to Vancouver and became a longtime humour columnist for The Province, winning three Stephen Leacock Memorial Medals for Humour during his tenure.
These three pieces were awarded to him by The Province; a tie clip for 15 years of service, a keychain for 20 years, and a ring for 25 years. It’s unclear what company was responsible for the manufacture of the tie clip and key chain, but the ring’s history reads like a provenance hat trick. Not only was it awarded to a Vancouver resident by a Vancouver newspaper, it was produced by Birks, which has, despite its origins in Montreal, over a century’s worth of history in Vancouver.
The other service awards the MOV has in its collection are from Woodward’s. The company awarded its employees everything from tie tacks, to watches, to cufflinks and earrings. Most of the awards in the MOV’s collection are for 20 years of service and the Roman numerals XX feature prominently. There are a few tie tacks and a set of cufflinks, however, which feature the iconic script W that the company first started using in 1958.
It’s strange to imagine being gifted rings and cufflinks by one’s employer, much less working for the same one for over 20 years. Much like being able to afford a house in Vancouver or making it through March without a rainy day, it’s not something that a lot of people see as feasible. However, should anyone currently employed at the MOV still be around in 20 years, I’d like to see them gifted with our iconic white roof immortalized as a giant pendant from Birks, thank you very much.
The digitization of the Vancouver History Collection was made possible by funding from the British Columbia History Digitization Program at the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, University of British Columbia.
By Adrian Sinclair
Ballot Box, City of Vancouver (1902). Wooden, Cedar. openMOV. H971.259.1
In 2013, Elections BC has taken a few notable steps to make voting more accessible. They have partnered with non-partisan organizations like Vancouver Design Nerds, Get Your Vote On, Rock The Vote, , and Bike To Vote to make educational resources available online and on the street for a new generation of voters.
The evolution of who has been able to access the voting process is quite the read. In 1918, Canadian women were enfranchised to vote in federal elections (except in Quebec, where women were enfranchised in 1940).
Suffrage Blotter, (1917). Rectangular, White Blotter. openMOV. H994.30.9
Historically, many other groups have been excluded from accessing the right to vote. In 1993 persons with diagnosed mental disabilities were given the right to vote for the first time. In 1970 the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 and ten years before that in 1960, First Nations living on reserve were given the right to vote for the first time. There remains further work to be done in order to ensure the vote be fully accessible. Of concern are Young voters (18-35) who have the lowest turn out among registered voters.
Of course it’s not only the non-partisan institutions that have an interest in making the vote as broadly accessible as possible. A quick look through the MOV’s online collections database openMOV, yields an interesting attempt by a political candidate to get the youth vote out during the 50’s. This faux pep pill containing Teresa Galloway’s political platform on a mini-scroll of paper, was handed out to notify voters that “our city hall needs a tonic … A woman of action can supply pep and vigor.”
Theresa Galloway Election Campaign Capsule, (1955). Plastic, Paper, Ink. openMOV.
Elections BC’s efforts to ensure fair and accessible elections that represent the political will of the electorate is a work in progress. Here at the MOV, we are also constantly working on how to make our collections more accessible in order to provoke, engage, and animate Vancouverites around our shared material and cultural history.
After exploring our online collection political artifacts, reading up on the candidates (of past and present), get out there and vote today!
Engage with the political life of your city and province!