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archival descriptions
Chester P. Lyons fonds
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Published materials

This series consists of records related to Lyons' activities as an author, including book-length publications, newspapers and magazine articles, and covers the period of the early 1950s until his death. Lyons typically addressed British Columbia history, botany, wildlife, parks, and other related topics in his writings. This series includes manuscripts and monographs by Lyons with extensive handwritten revisions. It also contains botanical drawings used to illustrate Lyons' field guides, as well as research notes, newspaper and magazine clippings, correspondence, dust jackets, brochures, pamphlets, reports, photographs, slides, and other textual records pertaining to Lyons' publications. This series consists of three subseries: 1) monographs; 2) field guide illustrations; and 3) newspapers and magazines.


This subseries consists of records related to Lyons' book-length publications. It includes Lyons' books on local and natural history in British Columbia, comprised of Milestones on the Mighty Fraser: Travel Guide to the Historic Fraser Canyon Vancouver-Kamloops (J.M. Dent & Sons: 1950, rev. ed. 1956); Milestones in Ogopogo Land: In Which the Many Wonders of the Land of Ogopogo and Sunshine are Revealed (1957) ; Milestones on Vancouver Island: The Story of This "Island to the West", Its Past and Its Present (Evergreen Press: 1958). This subseries also contains Lyons' popular field guides to the plants of British Columbia and Washington state, including Trees, Shrubs and Flowers to Know in British Columbia (J.M. Dent & Sons: 1952, 2nd rev. ed. 1965); Trees, Shrubs and Flowers to Know in British Columbia and Washington (Lone Pine: 1995); and Wildflowers of Washington (Lone Pine: 1997). According to the "About the Author" section in Wildflowers of Washington, "Chess' first book, Trees, Shrubs and Flowers to Know in British Columbia, published in 1954, was the first non-technical field guide in the province. Two years later in 1956, he wrote a similar book for Washington State. They served for many decades, through many reprints and revisions, and were finally combined into one volume in 1995" (192). The 7 monographs in this subseries are mostly labelled "Work Copy" or "Office Copy" indicating that they are early proofs or otherwise being revised, as the handwritten ink comments throughout attest. The records consist of monographs, manuscripts, research and research notes, correspondence, dust jackets, miscellaneous brochures and maps used for research, one notebook, and electronic records on three computer disks. The three computer disks contain electronic version of the revised manuscript for Trees, Shrubs, and Flowers in BC and Washington from 1994.

Miscellaneous records

This series consists of correspondence and other records pertaining to aspects of Lyons life and work that are not covered in the other series of the fonds. It includes material related to Lyons professional work in the BC Forest Service, BC Parks, and BC Fish and Game, as well as Lyons' work with Toastmasters. There are also some records from Lyons' involvement with the B.C. Museum Association. This series also includes other miscellaneous personal records and some painting and drawings by Lyons. There is no discernible order to these records, but they have been loosely grouped into this series. Records include Lyons' expired passports, maps, brochures, research notes, correspondence, reports, postcards, booklets and pamphlets.

Chester P. Lyons fonds

  • Fonds
  • 1932 - 1988

The fonds consists of material relating to Lyons's work as a BC Parks developer, botanist, author, lecturer, independent documentary filmmaker, wildlife photographer, and world traveller. It includes a variety of textual records, moving images, photographic materials, sound recordings, and maps. The fonds has been arranged into six series: 1) published materials; 2) scripts; 3) field notebooks; 4) photographic materials; 5) audiovisual materials; and 6) miscellaneous records.

Lyons, Chester P.

Field guide illustrations

This subseries consists of approximately 425 drawings that Lyons used as the basis for his field guide illustrations. As such, they mainly feature botanical subjects like trees, shrubs, and flowers from British Columbia and Washington. Drawings are arranged numerically, which roughly correlates to their appearance in the publications. Due to the numerous revisions that Lyons' field guides went through, the page correlations cannot be determined precisely.

Newspapers and magazines

This subseries contains records from Lyons' activities as a writer of newspaper and magazine articles, largely in the 1950s and 1960s during the time that he was still employed in BC Parks. The subject of the articles typically concern the BC outdoors and activities and include titles like "BC's Great Cliffs," "Native Shrubs," and "Enjoy Outdoors with Home on Wheels." While Lyons wrote articles for a variety of newspaper and magazines, most records in this subseries appear to be from Lyons' "This Amazing Province" series which ran in the Victoria Times in the early 1950s, as well as several articles that appeared in the magazine Forest and Mill, published by the Forest Industries of B.C. until 1966. This subseries consists of manuscripts, drafts, clippings (some glued into a scrapbook), photographs and negatives, research notes, reference material, correspondence, and other textual records pertaining to newspaper and magazine articles by Lyons.

Field notebooks

This series consists of approximately 66 coil-bound notebooks with Lyons' handwritten notes detailing his travels in British Columbia, Mexico, England, Asia, and elsewhere. Many of these notebooks appear to be related to Lyons' activities as an international tour guide for his travel company, Golden Eye Travel, especially those that mention tour members. The information recorded in these notebooks include travel notes, such as expenses, names and addresses, accomodation, food, foreign words and phrases. Lyons also used these note books to record notes on botany and wildlife, such as names and sketches of flora and fauna, especially birds. There are also some sketches of maps. Film notes, sound notes, and photograph notes also figure strongly here. Some notes are extremely detailed diary-like entries that may be the beginnings of the film scripts inspired by these trips. These notebooks have been arranged chronologically.


This series consists of textual records Lyons used to narrate slide shows, films, and other lectures for the Audubon Society and the CBC television show Klahanie. Lyons also used scripts for other lectures, seminar talks, and speeches. The subject matter typically addresses nature and wildlife conservation and activities, especially in British Columbia, as well as international travel. This series includes drafts, revisions, and final versions of the scripts, as well as the background material and research notes used as sources. This series consists of three subseries: 1) Audubon scripts, 2) Klahanie scripts, and 3) Other scripts.

Photographic materials

This series consists of photographic prints, negatives, and slides that Lyons created throughout his lifetime in his various roles as BC Parks employee, botanist, writer, travel guide, worldwide traveller, and father. Prominent subjects in Lyons' photos include travel, scenery, wildlife, and historic sites in British Columbia. Many photos also depict botanical specimens, undoubtedly used in Lyons' field guides. The largest number photographic images come from Lyons' international travels to India, Asia, Central and South America, and elsewhere. Some of these images were published in Lyons' monographs, newspapers, and magazine articles. This series is arranged by format into two subseries: 1) prints and negatives; and 2) slides.

Audio-visual materials

This series consists of moving images and sound recordings created by Lyons, beginning in his employment with BC Parks and continuing after he left government service. As with Lyons' other material, the subject of the moving images are the BC outdoors and international travel. The sound recordings were accompaniments to Lyons' films and slide shows. They also relate to Lyons' later involvement with B.C. Parks reunions. This series is arranged by format into two subseries: 1) moving images; and 2) sound recordings.