Fonds CR-4 - Bell family fonds

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Bell family fonds

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  • 1859-[ca. 1979] (Creation)
    Bell (family)

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Physical description

151.5 cm of textual records;ca. 1760 photographs;183 maps and plans

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Biographical history

The Bell family roots in Delta begin with the arrival of the Green family in 1871 or 1872. Residents of "Greencroft", their farm on Crescent Island, Charles F. and Elizabeth Green were one of the first pioneering families in Delta. As was necessary in a pioneering community, C.F.Green played many roles in the community, including member of the school board and the municipal council. Their daughter Lydia Mary (1889-1958), the fourth of eight children, married Harry Nelson Rich (1857-1932) in 1889 at the All Saints Church in Ladner. Harry Nelson Rich arrived in Delta in 1880 to work as the bookkeeper for the Westham Island cannery. He proceeded to become a prominent businessman in Ladner, working as a real estate and insurance agent, notary public and auctioneer. He was active in many community organizations including the Delta Agricultural Society, the Delta Patriotic Society, and the Delta Branch no. 61 Canadian Legion. He also owned twenty-seven acres of land at Tsawwassen Beach, where the family spent their summers. Mary Lydia and Harry had five children including Edith Emily (1892-1981), Sidney Norris (1893-1916), Gertrude May (1899-1926), Mildred Constance (1905- ) and Phyllis Elizabeth (1909- ). Sidney was killed in World War I. Gertrude died while nursing in Kamloops in 1926. Edith met Edward Richardson Bell (1892-1976), a young banker from Nova Scotia, in Ladner around 1912. They were engaged before Edward enrolled in the service in 1915. After Edward was injured in Ypres, Edith travelled to England and the two married at Nottingham, England in 1918. Their first son, Robert Edward (1918-1992), was born in England. The Bells returned to Canada in 1919 and lived briefly in Vancouver where Harry Rich (1920-1996) was born. They moved to a house on Delta Street in 1921, and had a third child, (Gertrude) Mary (1926-). They built their house at 4551 Arthur Drive in 1929, where they lived for almost forty years. Edith and Edward Bell moved to a smaller house at 45th and Evergreen Lane in 1965. Edward Bell worked with his father-in-law, Henry Nelson Rich, in the fields of insurance, real estate, notary public and auctioneering, eventually taking over the business in 1932 when H.N.Rich died. Both Edith and Edward Bell were active members of the community. Their son, Robert Edward Bell, attended the University of British Columbia where he studied mathematics and physics. He became a renowned nuclear physicist, and was Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University in Montreal. He married Jeanne Atkinson, and spent his career years working for the National Research Council in Ottawa (during World War II) and McGill University in Montreal. After his retirement, he returned to Delta to live on the Bell properties in Tsawwassen. Harry Bell attended the University of British Columbia, and was later Associate Professor of Engineering at UBC. He remained in Ladner, and was still living in the house on 45th Avenue when he died in 1996. (Gertrude) Mary Bell studied Pre-Med at UBC and later married Frank Paul. She resides in Vernon.

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Scope and content

The Bell family fonds is arranged in three sous-fonds: Edith Bell sous-fonds, Edward Bell sous-fonds, and Harry Bell sous-fonds. Edith Bell's records include diaries, scrapbooks and photographs of family and community events as well as records pertaining to her membership in various organizations including the Imperial Order Daughter of the Empire. Edward Bell's records consist of business papers, particularly land records and wills. Harry Bell's records are personal records related to the Bell family. Through photographs, cartographic material, and textual records, the records document not only the Bell family, but much of the community of Delta. Edith Bell's records provide insight into Delta social affairs and families, while Edward Bell's business records reveal economic and social change as it is documented in land transactions.

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Sous-fonds and series descriptions, file and item (photographs, and maps and plans) inventories are available. See Photograph Reference Binders to view reference copies of photographs.

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BCAUL control number: DMA-326

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