Fonds - Donald Graham fonds

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Donald Graham fonds

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  • 1885-2003 and [n.d.], predominant 1981-2002 (Creation)
    Graham, Donald R.

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Physical description

95.8 cm of textual records and other materials

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Donald Ronald Graham was born in Regina, Saskatchewan on August 3, 1947 to Jim and Marjorie Graham. After he graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a masters degree in history, he worked as an economist for the Saskatchewan Economic Development Board for a couple of years before he accepted the position of the provincial governments cultural conservation co-ordinator in 1970. He married Elaine in 1969 and had two sons, David and Jonathon. In 1976, Donald moved his family to Victoria, British Columbia on the first leg of their journey to join an agricultural co-operative in Belize. While in Victoria, he saw a job ad and applied to be a lighthouse keeper. By February 1978, Graham was first assigned to Point Atkinson in West Vancouver and then transferred to Lucy Island in Chatham Sound. After a year, he was then assigned to the lighthouse at Bonilla Island in the Hecate Straits. By 1981, however, Graham asked to be reassigned to Point Atkinson where he remained as the light keeper for the next 17 years until his position was finally replaced by an automated light in 1996. Despite the loss of his job, he and his family remained as residents of Lighthouse Park, as his wife was the areas warden.;Graham wrote two books <i>Keepers of the Light</i> (1985) and <i>Lights of the Inside Passage</i> (1986) that document the history of lighthouses in British Columbia and reveal many personal and sometimes tragic stories about lighthouse keepers and their families. Both books were well received by the public and eventually garnered him a B.C. Book Award. In recent years, Graham became an outspoken critic of a federal government policy of automating the lighthouses as a cost-cutting measure and was frequently quoted in newspapers defending the tradition of humans staffing lighthouses. Prior to his death from pancreatic cancer on October 8, 2003, his research files and his collection of photographs, maps and sea charts that were used in his books were donated to the Leonard G. McCann Archives at the Vancouver Maritime Museum.

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Scope and content

The fonds consists of biographical information, writings, publications, minutes, memorandums, transcripts of interviews, correspondence, newspaper clippings, reports, research notes, reviews, press releases, maps, slides, and photographs. The fonds consists of 8 series: Biographical and Writings; Point Atkinson; Subject Files; Keepers of the Light; Correspondence; Maps; Light Stations; and Photographs and Slides. The records have been organized according to either Grahams original filing system or to its overall contents.

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BCAUL control number: VMM-3

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