Fonds RBSC-ARC-1708 - Frank H. Brown fonds

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Frank H. Brown fonds

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  • Multiple media

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on contents of fonds.

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1.03m of textual records and other materials

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Biographical history

Frank Herbert Brown was born in Birmingham, England, on April 26, 1894 to Edwin and Elizabeth (Attridge) Brown. He had one sister, "Madge" Ada Brown. His father eventually remarried; Brown’s stepmother was Florence Brown. Frank H. Brown studied at Queen’s University in Belfast, Ireland, matriculating with honours. He married Elizabeth McIlroy, daughter of Rev. Jas. McIlroy, on April 28, 1917, and had two sons: Dr. Thomas C. Brown and Alex G. Brown. Brown died on January 16, 1975.

Brown moved to Canada in 1911 to join the staff of the Canadian Bank of Commerce. He served in WW1 as a private with the 196th battalion (western universities) in 1917, though his health restricted him to clerical duties and returned him to work at the Bank by the end of the year. Brown remained on staff at the Bank after the war, rising in rank, becoming an inspector at the head office in 1927 and Assistant Corporation Executive from 1929 to 1936, doing business reorganization work, part of which took him to Cuba in 1934 on an inspection tour to see the CBC manager there. In 1939 he was appointed Superintendent of the home office.

In 1941, Brown was seconded to the Department of Munitions and Supply at Ottawa as Associate Director-General of Munitions productions and became successively in 1942, Director-General of Munitions Contracts; Secretary, Joint War Production Committee of Canada and the United States; Assistant Deputy Minister and, finally, Financial Advisor from 1942 to 1946 in charge of contracts, financial arrangements, negotiations, etc.; Member, Control Committee, Sorel industries limited, 1942-1946. In 1946 he was appointed Deputy Minister for National Revenue (Taxation), undertaking a reorganization of the Canadian Taxation Division before retiring in late 1947 due to his health.

In July 1946, Brown was awarded the C.B.E. for war services.

Brown moved to Vancouver, B.C. in 1948, establishing a practice as a financial and industrial consultant. He held executive posts in many companies over his 27 years in Vancouver, including (though not simultaneously) the following:


  • The White Pass & Yukon Corp. Ltd.
  • Georgia Recreations Ltd.
  • Hecate Development Ltd.
  • Kitimat Pulp & Paper Co. Ltd.
  • Martin Paper Products Ltd.
  • Pacific Coast Fire Insurance Ltd.
  • Powell Stores Ltd.
    Vice President:
  • Noctin Investment Corp. Ltd.
  • Pacific Coast Fire Insurance Ltd.
    Chairman of the board:
  • British Columbia-Yukon Railway Co.
  • British Yukon Exploration Co. Ltd.
  • British Yukon Navigation Co. Ltd.
  • British Yukon Ocean Services Ltd.
  • The British Yukon Railway Co.
  • Pacific and Arctic Railway and Navigation Co.
  • Pacific Coast Fire Insurance Ltd.
  • Skagway Terminal Co.
  • The White Pass & Yukon Corp. Ltd.
  • Yukon Pipelines Ltd.
  • Anglo-Scandinavian Investment Corp. of Canada
  • Betrust Investment Corp. Ltd.
  • Canadian Vickers Ltd.
  • Colonial Steamships Ltd.
  • Fidelity Life Assurance Co.
  • Georgia Recreations Ltd.
  • Grosvenor International Ltd.
  • Hawaiian Western Steel Ltd.
  • Locana Corp. Ltd.
  • Locana Securities Ltd.
  • Loiselle Transport Ltd.
  • McLennan, McFeely & Prior Ltd.
  • MacMillan, Bloedel and Powell River Ltd.
  • Martin Paper Products Ltd.
  • Morrison Steel and Wire Co. Ltd.
  • National Trust Co. Ltd.
  • Neon Products of Canada Ltd.
  • Neon Products of Western Canada Ltd.
  • Noctin Investment Corp. Ltd.
  • Pacific Coast Fire Insurance Ltd.
  • Powell River Sales Co. Ltd.
  • Redhill Investment Corp. Ltd.
  • Scott Misener Steamships Ltd.
  • West Coast Shipbuilders Ltd.
  • Western Bridge and Steel Fabricators Ltd.
  • Western Canada Steel Ltd.
  • Westview Investment Corp. Ltd.
  • The White Pass & Yukon Corp. Ltd.
  • Yorkshire Corp. Ltd.

Brown maintained a lifelong interest in music, writing song lyrics and poems, performing in musicals, and generally supporting musicians and musical endeavours. He had trained early in life to be an opera tenor, but realized there was little opportunity, and so became involved in finance instead. He was also greatly interested in cancer research, participating in at least two national cancer societies. In the mid-1950s Brown formed an interest in stereoscopic (3D) photography, taking many photos and getting them developed into stereoscopic slides and View-Master reels.

Custodial history

Upon the passing of Frank Herbert Brown, his materials were transferred to his son, whose children donated them to UBC in 2013. The materials remained in F. H. Brown's original cabinets and desk until 2010, when they were condensed and some contextual notes about Brown's life were added.

The original filing and arrangement of the files can be significantly credited to Constance Louise Bawden, Brown's personal secretary from the time he moved to Vancouver in 1947 until his death in 1975. Bawden's actions may be seen on a great many documents, including filing notes, action notes, and correspondence that she handled on Brown's behalf.

Scope and content

The fonds is comprised of materials related to Brown's personal life (mostly recorded through photography) and his various professional positions, particularly his role in the White Pass & Yukon Corporation and its expansion into containerized shipping.

Approximately one third of the fonds is materials that have been condensed by Brown's descendants and filed chronologically. This portion has been called the Chronological papers, and materials related to all other series may be found there, as well as a wide range of personal materials.

The rest of the fonds has been divided into 10 series of: general correspondence; papers from Brown's two government posts; his work for the White Pass & Yukon Corp.; his work for MacMillan, Bloedel, and Powell River; his work as director for other companies; subject files related to his interests; speeches and articles he wrote; personal papers; and slides (both personal and professional).

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Materials were donated to UBC in 2013 by Brown's granddaughter Lynda Tanaka.

In November 2019, Brown's granddaughter Lynda donated an accrual to the fonds that resulted in files 09-11 through 09-25. This material was added to the appropriate series.


When received, the materials were in 6 banker's boxes, 5 of which were labeled with an original location. As a result, the files have been physically kept in the order received, to maintain any bond.

Files 1-01 to 2-17 were in a box labelled "FHB File Drawer BSMT."
Files 3-01 to 5-03 were in a box labelled "FHB File Drawer BSMT."
Files 5-04 to 6-17 and oversize photo BC 2161/486 were in a box labelled "FHB File Drawer BSMT R side."
Files 6-18 to 7-06 were in a box labelled "FHB Top Middle R Drawer File Cabinet BSMT."
Files 7-07 to 8-08 and four oversize times (BC 2161/487-89, cancer certificate) were in a box labeled "FHB Family Store."
The rest of the files and the other oversize materials were in the last (unlabelled) box.

Three types of material have been removed from the fonds: first, three loose books which have been added to the main library catalogue: Johan Luger and G.H. Wallagh's 1945 <i>All About Amsterdam</i>, Lambert Florin's 1971 <i>Alaska, the Yukon and British Columbia Ghost Towns</i>, and the Canadian Bank of Commerce's 1920 <i>Letters from the Front: 1914-1919</i>; second, books and pamphlets which were already present in the library catalogue; and third, materials which were duplicated within individual files, like multiple copies of the same press release.

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General note

Photograph identifier: BC-2161

Physical description

1.03m of textual records ; 492 photographs (BC2161/1-492) ; 3 technical drawings (RBSC-ARC-1708-OS-01-01 to 01-03) ; and 1 painting

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Description revised by Natalie Trapuzzano in March 2020.

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  • English
  • French

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