Subseries 12 - Archibald Murchie collection

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Title proper

Archibald Murchie collection

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  • Graphic material

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Reference code

CA OSC ARC 01-3-12

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Dates of creation area


  • [198-?] - [1999?] (Collection)
    Cox, Doug
    British Columbia
  • ca. [1893]-[1919] (Creation)
    Murchie, Archibald
    British Columbia

Physical description area

Physical description

69 photographs : b&w

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Archibald Murchie (1853-1930) was born in Scotland and immigrated to Victoria, BC as an adult on the recommendation of his brother John. John Murchie established Murchie’s Tea in 1894 and named his own son Archibald Murchie (1892-1925, and not to be confused with his uncle). Following his calling to become an evangelist minister for the Spiritualist Church (an off-shoot of the Church of England), he set off into the interior of BC to preach as a missionary.

Murchie’s photographic career began when he arrived in Williams Lake, BC, in 1893. Wherever his missionary calling took him, Murchie brought along his camera. Marcus Smith, CPR engineer and previous associate of Murchie’s via the Spiritualist Church, hired him to photograph the creation of a bridge over the Fraser River at Sheep Creek. Work on this project was slow enough to afford Murchie to engage in side trips to Quesnel, BC, and farther north. Here he made a connection with the Reverend A. H. Cameron who suggested he establish a parish in Princeton. After this failed, Murchie returned to the Cariboo and set up a photography studio in Ashcroft, BC.

In 1911 Murchie moved again to the Okanagan Valley and in 1916 at age 64 he married Amy Wood. His last attributed photograph was taken in 1918.

Custodial history

After Murchie’s death in 1930, his wife remarried and had his photography equipment destroyed. In 1948 a few glass negative plates were salvaged from a chicken house by the Gorman family children as a worker was scraping off the emulsions to use the glass. After this, the photographs were assumed into the custody of B.W. Wilson, from which point they were transferred to the Doug Cox Collection.

Scope and content

Landscapes showing developing infrastructure in the interior of British Columbia in the later 19th and early 20th century, with especially robust coverage of the construction of railroads and bridges, as well as some mining operations. Features group portraits of work crews.

Notes area

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These photographs have been digitized and are available on UBC’s Open Collections.
The same photos have been mounted in the BC Regional Digitized History Portal due to their resonance with the southern interior of BC.
These photos are expected to be copies, but the location of the originals in unknown.

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Script of description


Wilson, B.W. (n.d.) B.C.’s Evangelist Photographer Archibald Murchie [unpublished manuscript].
“About us.” Murchie’s Fine Tea & Coffee (website). Accessed January 30, 2024.

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