Fonds RBSC-ARC-1300 - John Keenlyside Legal Research Collection

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Title and statement of responsibility area

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John Keenlyside Legal Research Collection

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

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  • 1858-1903, 1923-1950. (Creation)

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2.45 m of textual records

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Custodial history

The provenance of this collection starts with a fire in the Supreme Court in Victoria in the mid 1890s. In a rush to evacuate the records, a portion went to the British Columbia Provincial Archives and the other portion was removed and held by Justice Sir Henry Crease and his descendants until about 1950. The documents were then acquired by Dr. Joseph Pearce (Dominion Astrophysicist in Victoria) who had it administered by the well-known collector Gerald Wellburn after Pearce became critically ill. Wellburn sold the entire collection to a Vancouver stamp dealer in 1960 where it sat in a downtown vault of a trust company until 1991 when Keenlyside purchased it.

Rare Books and Special Collections acquired the Augustus Pemberton subseries from John Keenlyside on February 26, 2008 and the Inferior Court of Civil Justice subseries from Keenlyside December 30, 2008. Subsequent accruals acquired were also collected by John Keenlyside.

Scope and content

The fonds consists of legal documents collected by John Keenlyside over the last thirty five years. The documents give insight into the formation of British Columbia's legal system when it consisted of two colonies. The legal records (including writs, testimony, judgements, and other court documents) were produced by judges, magistrates, defendants, claimants, and other relevant parties. Some figures of historical significance who created legal records in this fonds are the first judge in BC, the first Attorney General, and BC's earliest clergy, businessmen, and other prominent figures from the colonial period.

This fonds also consists of documents related to the British Columbia Provincial Police force and various Japanese-Canadian and civil rights groups.

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Accrual transferred from John Keenlyside in two portions in October and December of 2009.

Another accrual acquired from John Keenlyside in December 2010.

A third accrual was acquired from John Keenlyside in December 2013.

A fourth accrual was acquired from John Keenlyside in December 2018.

A fifth accrual was acquired from John Keenlyside in December 2019.

A sixth accrual was acquired from John Keenlyside in December 2021.

A seventh accrual was acquired from John Keenlyside in 2022.

An eighth accrual was acquired from John Keenlyside in 2023.


Material was collected and arranged by John Keenlyside.

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Description revised by Natalie Trapuzzano in February 2020 to accommodate 2019 accrual. Additional revision by Allison Gale in January 2022 to accommodate 2021 accrual. Additional Revision by Matthew White in August 2023 to accommodate 2022 accrual. Additional revision by Elizabeth Robertson in November 2023 to accommodate the 2023 accrual.

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