Fonds RBSC-ARC-1769 - Rex Pendril Brown fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Rex Pendril Brown fonds

General material designation

  • Textual record
  • Graphic material

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the content of the fonds.

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Physical description area

Physical description

ca. 750 b&w photographs and other materials

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Rex Pendril “Pen” Brown was born in Vancouver in 1923 to Emma Bentall Brown and Philip Pigott Brown, both from Essex. Brown attended UBC at age 16. At age 19, Brown was called to serve the army in WWII, but received conscientious objector status. Brown objected the war on philosophical grounds, having read pacifist writings by Bernard Shaw and others. His mother, a member of the Society of Friends and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, supported his conscientious objection.

Brown served his time in alternative service work camps at Kootenay National Park and Blubber Bay. He also served 30 days in Oakalla prison for refusing to complete work during his service. After the work camps, Brown worked as a bank teller in Vancouver. He was released from service in 1946. He married Elizabeth Dorothy Kovalcik in 1957, and the couple had two children, Rex and Marian. Brown was the lighthouse keeper at Pine Island, off the coast of British Columbia, from 1957 until a major storm damaged the station in 1967. The family then moved to Victoria, where Brown worked for the Coast Guard until retiring in 1989. He passed away on April 11 2018.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Fonds illustrates Brown’s time as a conscientious objector in British Columbia during WWII as well as various travels around BC prior to his time in the work camps. Brown had weekends free and received some leave; a fellow Objector lent him a camera, which he used to document his work areas and living quarters, as well as recreational travels and off-camp activities. He sent the film back to Vancouver for processing.

The fonds includes three photo albums produced by Brown, and three files of textual records. These are comprised of personal and government correspondence and a diary.

Notes area

Physical condition

Some negatives show damage, fading, or discolouration. Some handwritten captions are smudged and/or transferring onto facing pages.

Immediate source of acquisition

The fonds was acquired by the University of British Columbia Rare Books and Special Collections from the Brown family on July 17, 2017.

An accrual was transferred in October 2021 from the Museum of North Vancouver and Marian Kovalcik Brown.


The fonds contains six files, three of which are photo albums: Photo Album 1, Photo Album 2, and Photo Album 3. The archivist retained loose photographs, negatives, and enclosures with the album they were discovered in. An additional envelope of negatives was acquired and arranged with the corresponding photographs in album, and some negatives were removed from their original album to pair with photographs in the other album--these departures from the original order are noted in the file arrangement notes.

An accrual to the fonds was made in April 2018 in the form of 1 diary and 3 letters. An accrual to the fonds was made in October 2021 in the form of 1 photo album.The finding aid has been updated to reflect these accruals.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

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Restrictions on access

There are no restrictions on access.

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Finding aids

Finding aid available; file level description.

Generated finding aid

Associated materials

Letters and photos belonging to Emma Bentall Brown, Rex Pendril Brown's mother, were donated to the City of Vancouver Archives. It includes her letters to her son while in camp, as well as family photos.

Related materials


No further accruals are expected.

Physical description

Includes 391 negatives, ca. 20 postcards, 19 pages of textual records, 1 pocket diary, and 3 albums

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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Fonds arranged and described by Kristina McGuirk in November 2017.
Accrual arranged and fonds description revised by Claire Williams in June 2018. Accrual arranged and description revised by Matthew White in August 2023.

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Accession area