The University of British Columbia is now the home of one of B.C.'s largest historical photo collections.

Over 18,000 rare photos, some dating back to the 1850s, have been donated to the university by Uno Langmann, a Vancouver-based fine arts collector.

Langmann, who immigrated to Canada in 1955, started his collection of historical B.C. photographs in the late 1960s.

"I realized that I was onto something very important, and that was the history of British Columbia," Langmann said.

"The written word is something, but there's nothing to explain better than a photograph."

Uno Langmann

Uno Langmann at Uno Langmann Limited Fine Arts (Jason D'Souza/CBC)

The UBC Library has already begun to digitize the photos, and hopes to have them available online by the summer for the public to peruse.

A press release from the university put the value of the priceless collection at around $1.2 million.

Langmann said he hopes that his donation will inspire others with rare historical pieces from B.C.'s past to donate them to a public institution.

"Giving is the biggest pleasure — not receiving," he said. "I hope it will have the same joy for the people that receive it."