Series 1 - May Ellingsen historic photograph collection

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May Ellingsen historic photograph collection

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  • 1910 - 1960 (Creation)
    Ellingsen, May

Physical description area

Physical description

9 albums (554 photographs)

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Biographical history

May Ellingsen was born on March 13, 1914 to George and Robina Freeman. Her maternal grandfather, Michael Manson, was the first person to pre-empt land on Cortes Island, claiming a quarter section on Gunflint Lake in 1886. May spent her childhood on Hernando Island, where her family homesteaded and logged, and on Cortes Island, where she attended the log school at Manson's Landing.
In 1936 May married Elmer Ellingsen. They spent the next ten years in the Loughborough Inlet/Phillips Arm area while Elmer worked for his father's logging operations. During those years their children, Shirley, Bruce and Andy, were born. In 1946 the family moved to Von Donop Creek, where Elmer was logging. In 1950 they moved their float house, built at the time of their marriage, to Manson's Landing Lagoon and two years later, to its present permanent location on Hague Lake.
May and Elmer devoted much time and energy to building their community. Amongst her many community activities, May ran the library at Manson's Hall. She had a strong interest in local history, researching the history of land pre-emptions on the island, collecting and annotating photographs from pioneer families and recording interviews with old timers. She was a founder of the Cortes Island Museum and Archives Society; the archives reading room is named in her honor. Historical materials and artifacts gathered by May formed the kernel of the museum's collections and archives.

Custodial history

May Ellingsen put this collection together in the mid 1980s. She collected hundreds of old photographs from 30 donor families which were then copied and catalogued by the Campbell River Museum in 1985, with funding from the Canada Council and Canada Works (see "Musings", a publication of the CR Museum & Archives Society, Vol. IV #1, March 1985). The Campbell River Museum made negatives and two copies of the photographs; the originals were then returned to the donor families. One copy of each photo was given to May, who arranged them in albums and added her commentary. She continued to add to the albums through the 1990s, adding 72 original photographs and more descriptions. She kept the albums in the library in the Manson's Hall and then in the Cortes Museum when it opened in 1999. The albums were officially donated to CIMAS in 2004.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of nine albums holding 554 photographs of Cortes Island and nearby islands, including Twin Islands and Hernando Island, with accompanying descriptions and with additional textual information such as pre-emption records, reminiscences and newspaper clippings. Most of the photographs date from the early decades of the 20th century, depicting homes and buildings, pioneer families, community activities, schools, wharves, boats, logging and marine activity. The majority of the photographs are copies, as indicated by the numbers assigned to them by the Campbell River Museum & Archives. There are 72 original photographs in the albums.

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Photographs are copies arranged by May Ellingsen in the albums and who added descriptions.

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Item level finding aid is available for the 72 original photographs.

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Associated materials

Photographic copy negatives and another copy photographic print of many of the photographs are in the Campbell River Museum and Archives.

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