234 Menzies St


About VHS Presentations

Presentations will take place on the fourth Thursday of each month (September – May). Entry is free for VHS members and $5 for non-members. Membership forms will be available for those that wish to join the Victoria Historical Society. 

Upcoming Presentations:

September 22, 2022

Dr. Jean Barman, British Columbia in the Balance

Location: This talk will be presented on Zoom but also theatre style at the James Bay New Horizons. 7:30pm 

The pathway British Columbia took 150 years ago to become the Canadian province it is today was neither certain nor inevitable, reminding us the choices we make today are similarly unpredictable.

Jean Barman is professor emerita from UB and the author of more than 20 books on British Columbia history including the standard The west Beyond the West: A History of British Columbia. She is the winner of many awards including the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award for an outstanding literary career in BC, and the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Historical Writing, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2002 and recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. Her book, French Canadians, Furs, and Indigenous Women in the Making of the Pacific Northwest, won the 2015 Sir John A. Macdonald Prize for best English-language book in Canadian history, the Governor General’s history award for scholarly research, Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Book on British Columbia, and K.D. Srivastava Prize for Excellence in Scholarly Publishing. She has a new book with the same title as her talk coming out this fall.

Jean Barman

October 27, 2022

Dr. Sylvia Olsen,  Finding the Scottish connections to the Cowichan sweater – the anatomy of cultural fusion

Location: James Bay New Horizons, 7:30pm

Sylvia Olsen is a knitting historian. She is curious about connections—the way one knitting tradition borrows and blends with others. Her life and her studies have been a deep immersion into Coast Salish knitting and she will share the fascinating links between Scottish knitting traditions such as Fairisle and the famous Cowichan sweater from the west coast of British Columbia. Her presentation is a life-affirming account of how knitting unites us and about the knitting ties that bind us together.

Sylvia is an author, story-teller, knitting designer, housing specialist and teacher. She has an M.A. and Ph.D. in History from the University of Victoria.   She is also a best selling author of youth fiction with more than fifteen books  to her credit and won the Lieutenant Governors Award for historical writing for her book Working with Wool on the history of the Cowichan Sweater; shehas two other books on knitting and co-authored a biography of Green Party activist Elizabeth May.

Sylvia Olsen

November 24, 2022

Dr. Robin Fisher,  Reconciliation Before Its Time: Wilson Duff as Provincial Anthropologist

Location: James Bay New Horizons, 7:30pm

Today there is real concern in the museum world, and particularly, at the Royal British Columbia Museum, about appropriation and decolonization. But these issues, and efforts to confront them, are not new. As Provincial Anthropologist from 1950 to 1965 Wilson Duff worked to bring a First Nations presence and First Nations voices into the Museum. This presentation will focus on two of his many initiatives: first his partnership with Mungo Martin to rebuild Thunderbird Park and the opening of the house called Wa’waditla and, second, his work to salvage and restore totem poles from First Nations villages on the northern coast. Current efforts to decolonize do not always acknowledge those who have gone before.

Robin Fisher has published on several aspects of British Columbia history including the Contact and Conflict: Indian-European Relations in British Columbia,   1774-1890, which won the award for best historical writing in Canada, Duff Pattullo of British Columbia, and Vancouver’s Voyage: Charting the Northwest Coast, 1791-1795. He taught British Columbia and First Nations History, sometimes in First Nations communities such as Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc in Kamloops and Kitasoo in Klemtu. He was also involved as an administrator establishing two new universities: the University of Northern British Columbia and Mount Royal University in Calgary where he was Vice-President Academic. He returned to the coast in 2012 and worked on a biography of Wilson Duff which has recently come out with Harbour Publishing and titled Wilson Duff: Coming Back – A Life. He continues to teach in Vancouver Island University’s Elder College.

Robin Fisher