Fonds UBCA-ARC-1303 - Ridington family fonds

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Ridington family fonds

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  • Textual record
  • Photographic material

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50.5 cm of textual records.
17 photographs.

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Biographical history

John Ridington was born in West Ham, London, England, in April 1868, the son of William Richard Ridington, a building contractor, and his wife, Cecilia James Eleanor. He was the eighth of nine children. Four of his sisters died in infancy before his birth. The three who survived all married. They were Jane Ennor (Mrs. Alexander H. Guest), 1852-1942; Elizabeth Symons (Mrs. Joseph Henry Williams), 1856-1941; and Rosina Symons (Mrs. John Ellis Griffith), 1862- 1939. The ninth child and John Ridington's only brother was William Richards Ridington, 1870-1944. The details of John Ridington's education are not known. In later life, he claimed to have been a student at the London School of Art and the University of London; he also received training for a career in teaching. William Richards Ridington emigrated to Canada in the spring of 1889, bringing his wife and two sons. The three sisters remained in England. On April 25, they sailed from Liverpool aboard the S.S. Parisian, arriving at Québec City on May 5. Then they travelled by train to Birtle, Manitoba, where he took up farming and opened a carpenter's shop in Foxwarren. John Ridington was employed as a school teacher in rural schools of northwestern Manitoba, first in the summer of 1889 at Burdette, later at Rookhurst. In January 1896, John Ridington became the publisher and editor of the Carberry News. On November 6 of the same year, he married Maggie Dykes Charleston.
When fire destroyed the press early in 1901, he sold his interest in the paper. He moved to Winnipeg, where he became "special reporter, dramatic and art critic, and editorial writer" for the Manitoba Free Press, under the editorship of J.W. Defoe, with whom Ridington developed a lifelong friendship. In 1907 Ridington changed careers again and joined the firm of William Pearson Co. as a real estate salesman. In 1910 or 1911, he moved to Vancouver and became sales manager for Canada Western Trust Co. He invested in land development but lost everything in the depression of 1913. He was destitute to the point of borrowing money from neighbours. The only work he could find was teaching a course in English literature for the Vancouver Night Schools. His daughter Margaret Dorothy Ridington died on March 28, 1912. In later years when reporting the details of his life to biographical directories, Ridington eliminated these unhappy years from the record, stating that he moved from Winnipeg to Vancouver in 1914. By August 1914, he had found employment as the "acting librarian" of the new University of British Columbia. From May to August 1916, he attended summer school at the New York State Library, Albany. UBC President Frank Wesbrook nevertheless continued to search for an experienced librarian to replace Ridington. In June 1922, Wesbrook's successor, Leonard Klinck, finally changed Ridington's title from Acting Librarian and Cataloguer to Librarian.
Ridington's wife Maggie died on April 26, 1927. He married for a second time on August 8, 1929. Muriel Patience Fallows, the daughter of William W. Fallows and his wife, Patience Seale. John and Muriel Ridington's son John Fallows Ridington was born on May 29, 1930. John Ridington retired as University Librarian on April 31, 1940, at the age of 72. In the following years, he occupied himself by acting as Secretary to the Western Gate Lodge of the Masonic Order and by writing the occasional column for the Vancouver News-Herald. He died on April 20, 1945. A portrait of John Ridington, painted in 1912 by his brother-in-law Malcolm Charleston, hangs in the Ridington Room, Main Library. Malcolm Charleson was a graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he worked as a commercial artist.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds consists of material generated by John Ridington and other members of the Ridington family and includes correspondence (1904-1987), diaries (1917-1980), Ridington family history, and photographs. Also included is a collection of bound copies of John Ridington’s articles and speeches (1911-1944).

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

The selection of bound articles and speeches and some other materials were acquired from Jamie Ridington, through UBC Rare Books and Special Collections, in September 2012.
Unbound copy of “A tribute to Dickens” (3-17), and letter to “Mrs. Fallows” (3-28) transferred from Rare Books and Special Collections in 2014.


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Location of originals

Ridington photographs are located in the Archives vault, cabinet 2, drawer 12. These include a photo of a Pacific NW Librarian's association group photograph 1928. Also included is UBC Library under construction 1927, UBC Library 1937, Stanley Park Alaska Party 1925, UBC Library in a snow blizzard, portrait of LS Klinck and RE MacKenzie. A page of the Vancouver Morning Sun, 1925 "The official opening of new point grey home of the UBC" and an oversize group photo of Wesleyan College 1914-15.

Availability of other formats

Selected photographs have been digitized and included in UBC Library Open Collections series UBC 31.1

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