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Historic collection from the Klondike Gold Rush gifted to UBC in $2.5M donation

Donation from UBC alumnus and Canadian telecommunications icon, Philip B. Lind, CM, creates an essential new source for historical research and scholarship

UBC alumnus and Canadian telecommunications icon, Philip B. Lind, CM, has donated $2.5 million to UBC. This gift is comprised of the Phil Lind Klondike Gold Rush Collection, an unparalleled rare book and archival collection, dating from the Klondike Gold Rush (1894–1904), and financial support to ensure it is preserved and made available to the public at the UBC Library, where it will support research and learning.

The Department of Canadian Heritage’s Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board (CCPERB) recently designated the collection as a cultural property of outstanding significance.

The collection includes books, maps, letters and photos collected by Lind, whose grandfather, Johnny Lind, was a trailblazer who carved out success as a prospector, arriving in the Yukon two years before the big Klondike strike in 1896 that ignited the gold rush, and he operated and co-owned several claims on Klondike rivers and creeks. Lind says that he made collecting archival materials from this period a real passion of his over the past 50 years.

Philip B. Lind, CM

Philip B. Lind, CM

“My grandfather was there, and he was a central figure in all of this, even though he wasn’t widely known,” says Lind, who notes the first books in the collection were given to him by his father. Lind then developed relationships with collectors all over the West Coast to build out the collection, piece by piece, over the ensuing years. “My hopes for this collection are that more people would hear the stories and would be interested in it.”

The historical objects from the Klondike Gold Rush era will contribute to a collective understanding of the shared stories and experiences that have shaped British Columbia. “Looking to our past and critically examining our place in the world can help define a better path forward,” says Santa J. Ono, UBC president and vice-chancellor. “UBC now has the opportunity to understand the stories of the gold rush era in a tangible way, through materials that have survived over a century. I am grateful to Phil Lind for entrusting UBC with this rare, one-of-a-kind collection.”

This extraordinary collection offers so much possibility for both research and teaching, says Dr. Laura Ishiguro, associate professor in the department of history at UBC.

“I hope that this is a call to take the North seriously, and to take the history of the Klondike Gold Rush seriously but also to think about the North on its own terms,” she says. “It’s extraordinary, it’s enormous, there’s a great deal of diversity there, but there’s also hard questions to ask about which histories, we know and which ones we don’t.”

To facilitate scholarly and public access to the materials, the library will be making the collection available online through UBC Library Open Collections. A preview of featured collection items is available to view now in a curated photo gallery.

“UBC Library is ideally suited to preserve and provide access to the rare archival and book material found in the Phil Lind Klondike Gold Rush Collection,” says Dr. Susan E. Parker, university librarian. “We’re excited to digitize this collection and make it available to everyone, through the library’s Open Collections. The Lind Collection will be an essential new source for historical research and scholarship across Canada.”

At the centre of Phil Lind’s philanthropy is his steadfast belief that deeper understanding and connection can create a more inclusive world. From revolutionizing the broadcasting landscape in Canada to transforming the potential of telecommunications, his work has greatly contributed to the social, cultural and economic well-being of Canada. Lind is a long-time supporter and advocate of UBC. He has generously invested in many areas of scholarship at the university, including the Phil Lind Initiative, which invites leading U.S. thinkers to UBC for open, thought-provoking dialogue on a range of urgent issues. Lind has also supported the Phil Lind Chair in U.S. Politics and Representation, the U.S. Studies Program, the Rogers Multicultural Film Production Project and the Belkin Curator’s Forum.

Explore select items from the Phil Lind Klondike Gold Rush Collection and learn more about UBC Library’s Open Collections. Original story from UBC News.