The BC Archives Paintings, Drawings, Prints and Photographs collection has more than 10,500 works of art and published images.

“When most people think about the BC Archives, they think about textural documents, they think about journals, diaries, letters, government documents and historical photographs, but they think less about the art collection.  And the art collection at the BC Archives is a very valuable resource that we can offer to researchers to help display the early history of the province,” says Lesley Golding, collections manager for Paintings, Drawings, Prints, Photographs at the BC Archives.

The collection includes the work of artist William Hind, born in England in 1833.

“He was trained at the government school of art and design in Nottingham,” said Golding.

Upon graduating in 1851, Hind joined his older brother Henry in Toronto.

“And he almost immediately sets up shop as an artist in Toronto,” said Golding.  “He also, almost immediately, gets a job as an art instructor at the Toronto Model School. That’s pretty remarkable, considering at the time he’s only 18 years old.”

In 1862, as exhibition artist, Hind joined a group of about 60 explorers journeying from Fort Garry (present-day Winnipeg) to the Cariboo goldfields.

“We’re not entirely sure what his motivation was,” said Golding.  “He likely wanted to travel to the Canadian west to draw and paint the unique landscape, nature, and people of the Canadian West.”

The BC Archives has a journal from that difficult journey, but as Golding explained, “the textural documentation can only provide so much information.

“We’re very lucky that here at the BC Archives we also have a wonderful collection of William Hind’s work that helps us illustrate the journey of the Overlanders in 1862.   He was painting images that were taken back to the UK [United Kingdom] and used to entice people to settle in the Canadian West, and to display the expanse of the British Empire.”

In 1863, Hind reached Victoria, and set up an art studio on Broad Street.  William Hind died in New Brunswick in 1889.   The BC Archives acquired 15 of his paintings in 1927.

“There are only six known self-portraits of William Hind in existence and we’re very lucky that we actually have one of them here in the BC Archives collection” said Golding.

The Hind collection is among more than 10,500 works in the BC Archives collection, available for researchers around the world.

Veronica Cooper