Title and statement of responsibility area
Edgar Dunning fonds
General material designation
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Edition statement of responsibility
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Dates of creation area
1830-1983, predominant 1930-1980 (Creation)
- Dunning, Edgar, 1910-2010
Physical description area
247.5 cm of textual records
ca. 2000 photographs
3 architectural plans
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Archival description area
Name of creator
Edgar Clesson Dunning was born in Elbow, Saskatchewan, January 7, 1910, the eldest of three sons of Vincent Clesson Dunning and Gertrude Agnes (Hastey) Dunning. Edgar's brothers are Winston Eric (1912 - 1971) and William Abijah (1914 - 2003). In 1922, the Dunning family moved to Ladner where Vincent Dunning, a printer by trade, started a newspaper, the Weekly Optimist. Mr. Dunning went to California the following year, but Gertrude and her sons stayed in Ladner and continued to publish the Optimist. Edgar acted as the editor of the paper from 1935 to 1942, taking over as publisher from Gertrude in 1942. The award winning Delta Optimist became the premier community paper of Delta. Edgar acted as reporter, editor, and photographer for the paper, and expanded the operation into the printing business. He held the position of publisher until 1964 and then acted as co-publisher from 1964 to 1980 when a half interest in the paper was sold to E.G. Bexley. The Bexley family purchased the remaining shares in January 1983. The Delta Optimist now publishes as part of the Can West Company.
Edgar Dunning has always been active in the community life of Delta, his long association with the Optimist giving him a perfect vantage point for observing Delta events. He was a founding member of the Kinsmen Club of Ladner (1935), the Delta Community Band Society (1964), and the Delta Historical and Museum Society (1969). He has served on the executives of the Delta Board of Trade, Beach Grove Golf Club, Delta Memorial Park Association, and the Ladner Business Association, and has been a member of such fraternal organizations as the Elks, Odd Fellows, and the Masons. Edgar has the distinction of serving on every Delta committee organized to mark national, provincial and municipal centennials. An alumnus of King George V High School in Ladner, Edgar has been instrumental in organizing reunions of the "Ex High Club". Edgar was also an active member of the British Columbia Weekly Newspapers' Association and the Canadian Weekly Newspapers Association, serving as the youngest president of the former in 1941. In 1961, Edgar was appointed editor of the Pacific Region edition of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's (CBC) radio program "Neighbourly News," for which he created broadcasts for the next 26 years.
After retiring from the news business, Edgar returned to writing columns for local Delta papers, starting the Rambling column in 1989 and writing a series on the old homes of Delta in 1991. He has authored many articles, and collaborated on books, about Delta's history, and continues to actively promote the preservation and appreciation of the history of Delta. In his ninth decade Edgar continued to contribute to the community through his activities in community associations, notably as a commissioner on the Delta Heritage Advisory Commission and as director of the Burns Bog Conservation Society.
Edgar Dunning married Elsie Maria Bowing (1916 - 1998) in 1942. Elsie was the youngest daughter of Westham Island pioneers, Herman and Elvira Bowing. Edgar and Elsie had two children, Susan Elvira (Douglas) Darlington, and Gene Lindsay (Jane) Dunning.
Edgar died at the age of 100 yrs on October 23, 2010. Up until his death in 2010, Edgar was still writing his 'Rambling' editorial column for the Delta Optimist Newspaper.
Scope and content
The fonds consists of Mr. Dunning's family and business records; records accumulated as a member of various community organizations; and documents, manuscripts, and photographs resulting from Edgar's work for the Delta newspaper, the Optimist, and his interest in Delta community events and history. Family records include correspondence and legal records regarding the property on 48th Avenue and Delta Street, as well as financial and educational certificates. A large series of memorabilia includes invitations and other ephemera, which Edgar accumulated as publisher and reporter for the Optimist and as active community member. Business records are largely from the Optimist printing business, and include examples of print products such as invitations, programs, letterheads, tickets, municipal reports, etc., which were printed for local people and businesses of Delta. A small series of Optimist newspaper records include lists of subscribers from the 1940s. The fonds includes a sample of Edgar's writings for the Optimist on historical topics, plus a larger group of manuscripts that have been edited by him in his capacity as editor of the Optimist and as an interested and knowledgeable local historian. The fonds also consists of minutes of meetings, correspondence, reports, etc. accumulated by Edgar as a member of the Delta Community Band, various centennial committees, the Delta Historical and Museum Society, and other organizations. Edgar is a talented amateur photographer, and his photograph collection reflects his work as a reporter and his interest in the people and events of Delta. The fonds has been arranged in the following series: Centennial committees records; Delta Community Band records; Other society and committee records; Family papers; Manuscripts; Memorabilia; The Optimist (newspaper) records; The Optimist (printers) records; Photographs; Reference files.
Immediate source of acquisition
All materials have been donated by Edgar Dunning.
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BCAUL control number: DMA-277
Includes sound recordings