Fonds RBSC-ARC-1794 - Bob Williams fonds

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Bob Williams fonds

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  • Multiple media

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Physical description

5.9 metres of textual records and other material.

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Robert (Bob) Arthur Williams was born in East Vancouver, British Columbia in 1933. He attended Britannia High School in Vancouver, and then received his Bachelors of Arts in Economics and Geography from the University of British Columbia in 1955. He returned to U.B.C. where he earned his Masters of Sciences in Community and Regional Planning In 1958.

After graduation, Williams worked as an independent consultant and contractor providing work and services in municipal and community planning. He also taught as a lecturer at his Alma Mater in the School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP), and later, at Simon Fraser University.

Williams’ political career began in 1965 when he was elected Alderman to the city of Vancouver. In 1966 he was elected to be a Member of Legislative Assembly (M.L.A.) for the district of Vancouver East. He worked in this office until 1971.

In 1972 Dave Barrett appointed Williams as the Minister of Forest, Lands, and Water Resources. During this time, he helped to establish the Environment and Land Use Committee which worked to greatly expand park area in British Columbia, and change the pricing of natural resources. He also established the Burns Lake Native Development Corporation, and was responsible for several crown corporations including B.C. Hydro, B.C. Housing, B.C. Cellulose, Canadian Cellulose, Plateau Mills, Kootenay Forest Products, and Ocean Falls Corporation. In 1976 he established the British Columbia Institute for Economic Policy Analysis.

After his tenure as Minister, Williams continued to work in the private sector, becoming a local business owner. In 1984, he was once more elected as M.L.A. and served in office for eight consecutive years. In 1990 Williams became chair of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC), and also became a member of the board of directors of Vancity Credit Union. On December 6, 1991, he was appointed as Deputy Minister to the Crown Corporations Secretariat, and in 1993 continued in a similar role as Secretary to the Crown Corporations Committee Executive Council. During this time Williams worked to transform Surrey Place Mall into Surrey City Centre, and also participated in a joint project with government officials of St. Petersburg, Russia, assisting them with land management.

From 2004 to 2006 Williams served on the Vancouver City Planning Commission, and from 2007 to 2017 he again returned to the Vancity Board of Directors. In 2017 Williams was awarded an honorary doctor of laws from Simon Fraser University. Williams is currently living in Vancouver, and continues to participate in community projects and studies.

Custodial history

Records were in the custody of historian Benjamin Isitt prior to their transfer to Rare Books and Special Collections.

Scope and content

The fonds reflects the efforts of Bob Williams’ political and business career. Records in the fonds relate to Williams’s various roles: teacher, M.L.A., community planning consultant, Minister, chair of ICBC, and Secretary of Crown Corporations. As such, the records relate both to Williams’ personal career as well as British Columbia's governmental systems of resource management, transportation, forestry, energy, housing, and recreation. Correspondence is featured throughout the fonds; other records types include reports, studies, speeches, notes, legal agreements, bills, acts, notebooks, daily journals, travel memorabilia, presentation materials, photographs, VHS tapes, audio cassettes, optical discs, news clippings, scrapbooks, and transcripts of interviews. The fonds is comprised of four series; Alderman and Member of Legislative Assembly records, Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Water Resources Records series, Crown Corporations Records series, and Business, Personal, and Academic Records series.

The Alderman and Member of Legislative Assembly Records consists of material related to Williams' roles as Alderman of the City of Vancouver and later as M.L.A. for East Vancouver. Records include letters, faxes, telegrams, newspaper clippings, reports, speeches, notes and other related material.

The Ministry of Forests Lands and Water Resources Records series relates to Williams's time spent on the provincial cabinet working under the government of Dave Barret. Records consist primarily of correspondence, especially between Williams and major corporations and individuals in the forest industry. Other records include reports, studies, news clippings, bills and acts, speeches, presentation materials, and transcripts.

The Crown Corporations records series is comprised of documents stemming from Williams' activities as chair of ICBC, and his work in the Crown Corporations. Many records relate to the construction of Surrey City Centre. Record types include correspondence, reports, legal documents, and news clippings.

The Business, Personal and Academic Records series contains records related Williams’ business career, personal memories and diaries, pictures and travel memorabilia, and his experiences meeting other politicians. Record types include planning consultant studies, correspondence, interviews, and materials from his academic career including course outlines and reading lists.

Notes area

Physical condition

Documents have undergone remediation, researchers may find water damage.

Immediate source of acquisition

All records were donated by Bob Williams.


Where identifiable, original order has been maintained. Many of the records arrived in disarray and have been rearranged by the archivist. All records are reflected in the intellectual arrangement described above, and some records in the same series are physically located in different locations in order to retain original order. Where present, file names have been preserved. In order to retain original order and original file titles, some files include a scope and content note or supplied title element in order to accurately describe contents.

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A finding aid complete to the file level is available in this database.

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Associated materials

Interview with Bob Williams; available at University of Victoria.

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No further accruals are expected.

Physical description

58 photographs; 3 VHS Video Cassettes; 1 audio discs. Vinyl; 6 audio cassette tapes; 2 optical discs; 7 oversized maps; 2 oversized development plans.

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Fonds arranged and described by Claire Williams in summer of 2018.

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