Ralston, Keith

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Ralston, Keith

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  • Harry Keith Ralston

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Harry Keith Ralston was born in Victoria, B.C., on 3 September 1921. Graduating from Victoria High School in 1938, he earned the Royal Institution Scholarship for Victoria District. He then attended Victoria College and the University of British Columbia, receiving his BA in 1942 with First Class Honours in History. Ralston entered the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve in 1942 – beginning as an Ordinary Seaman; he worked his way up the ranks to Lieutenant and served on the Atlantic Coast before being discharged in 1945. He was the legislative correspondent for the left-wing weekly Pacific Tribune from 1952 to 1955 and wrote for The Fisherman and other labour periodicals – he was a life-long supporter of socialist and labour causes. Turning to teach, Ralston entered the Vancouver Normal School, graduating in 1956 "with distinction," in the top ten among 500 graduates. He taught at Templeton High School in East Vancouver from 1956 to 1960. In 1960 he was hired as the first curator of the Vancouver Maritime Museum, where he assembled its original collections and mounted the first exhibits. Returning to UBC, he completed his MA in History in 1965; his dissertation was entitled The 1900 strike of Fraser River sockeye salmon fishermen. He joined the UBC Department of History in 1967. His teaching focus was on the history of British Columbia and the Canadian West. Ralston retired in 1986 with the rank of Assistant Professor, although he continued to write and conduct research. He published articles on BC and labour history in BC Studies and The Beaver, and several articles for the Dictionary of Canadian Biography. He died on 20 June 2009.


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