Part of my tasks as researcher with the A City Goes to War project was to visit small local archives to explore their collections. I was not only looking for information to use in my own parts of the project but also to see what was available for students in the future. Most of these small archives have no or very limited online presence, many without digital finding aids often, and so it was quite the experience to visit them.
The Archives of the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia was one of my first stops. Located at 900 Vancouver St., in the same block as the magnificent and dominating Christ Church Cathedral, the archives are stored in an old chapel, dimly lit, and open in the mornings only for two days a week. One of the reasons for the limited hours is that the Diocese has been very busy with the Truth and Reconciliation Committee.
I find that working in these smaller archives brings out the most amazing talents for memory and research among the archivists. Their collections become their own, they know every nook and cranny, every file hidden in a folder hidden in a box under a table in a cupboard. Jacquie Nevins, the Diocesan archivist, had books and boxes ready for me right as I got there and continued to supply me with interesting tidbits of information and personal stories as well. While we had limited time together, she provided me with plenty of worthwhile information that I used in my religion section.
The most useful and interesting findings from my two weeks in the Anglican Archives were articles from the Diocesan Gazette, the monthly newspaper published in Victoria. The stories of the growing church and its role in the city and the war filled in many gaps in my knowledge and gave such a unique insight into the life of the church 100 years ago.