British Columbia

Art collector donates 2,500 B.C. photos to UBC archives

Five years ago, Vancouver art collector Uno Langmann donated 18,000 historical photos of B.C. to the University of British Columbia library archives, and now he's added 2,500 more photos to the collection. 

'History was developing so fast in British Columbia from about 1870 onwards,' says collector

Photograph of collapsed portion of Broadway Street, in Vancouver, after a rainstorm on November 28, 1909. Inscribed on front: The only "drop" in real estate in Vancouver's history/“Broadway” Photographer: Rosetti Studios (Submitted by Uno Langmann)

Five years ago, Vancouver art collector Uno Langmann donated 18,000 historical photos of B.C. to the University of British Columbia library archives, and now he's added 2,500 more to the collection.

Langmann gathered the B.C. photos — taken by different photographers over the years — in part to keep a photographic history of the province, which grew rapidly in the late 19th and early 20th century. 

"I honestly don't know everything about every photograph that I buy, I just know that it's important that they are kept because history was developing so fast in British Columbia from about 1870 onwards," says Langmann.

Hand-tinted photograph of a Quatsino wedding in canoes and in a woven cedar bark frame and hand coloured photograph. The photographer is unknown. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Langmann moved to Vancouver in 1958, from Denmark. Now, he buys photographs from all over the world.

The B.C. collection consists of photos from the 1850s to the 1950s, including landscapes, portraits, and pictures of towns and cityscapes.

The collection was digitized at UBC, and Langmann says the photos are available for anyone to use and publish. Close to 9,000 have already been digitized.

"I insisted on the photographs being readily available to every British Columbian," says Langmann.

Uno Langmann, pictured in Vancouver, B.C. on Friday, July 26, 2019. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

In fact, UBC students will be doing research based on the archives to gain more insight into the history of the province and the photos.

"They will have a lot of material to dig into," he said.

Langmann brought photos to show The Early Edition's Stephen Quinn on Friday, including one from 1909, which depicts a crowd gathered for the opening of the Granville Bridge.

Photograph of crowd gathered for the opening of the Granville Street Bridge in Vancouver, B.C., September 6, 1909. Bridge was opened by Earl Grey. Photographer: Bullen Photo Co.

"There's not too much to say except that obviously Vancouverites at the time were very enthused about getting this new bridge... a lot of people showed up," he said.

You can view the Uno Langmann Family Collection of British Columbia Photographs here.

Caption on photo reads: Indian Houses Albert Bay (should read Alert Bay). (Ben Nelms/CBC)
Uno Langmann speaks with Stephen Quinn. 7:47

With files from The Early Edition

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