Fonds 345 - J. Lewis Robinson fonds

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J. Lewis Robinson fonds

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  • Textual record
  • Cartographic material
  • Graphic material

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  • 1942-1990 (Creation)
    Robinson, J. Lewis

Physical description area

Physical description

1 folder of textual material
7 maps
118 images : b&w prints, col. prints, col. slides

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Name of creator

Biographical history

J. Lewis Robinson was born on July 9, 1918 in Leamington, Ontario. He received his BA in 1940 from the University of Western Ontario, his MA from Syracuse University in 1942 and his PhD from Clark University, in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1946. J. Lewis Robinson was appointed the Federal Government's first professional geographer with the Department of Mines and Resources in 1943 and that same year he participated in the Eastern Arctic Patrol where he visited communities in the Eastern Arctic and in the Keewatin Region. In 1945, he was transferred to the Mackenzie Valley section of the Northwest Territories Administration in Ottawa to help with the North Pacific Planning Project. The aim of this project was to bring together government administrators and scientists to plan for postwar development in northwestern Canada. Since no maps existed in the Northwest Territories Administration showing the relative position and spacing of buildings in the old settlements, Robinson was sent to the Mackenzie Valley in order to map these buildings. The mapping was done by pacing distances and later redrafting the sketches. During this time, J. Lewis Robinson visited and mapped the buildings in the following settlements: Fort Smith, Hay River, Fort Providence, Norman Wells, Fort Norman, Fort Good Hope, Arctic Red River, Fort McPherson, Fort Simpson, Aklavik, Fort Resolution, Port Radium, Yellowknife and Fort Resolution. Robinson came to the University of British Columbia to establish a Geography Division within the Department of Geology. He became chair of the division and, in 1958, established a separate Department of Geography. Robinson served as head of the department until 1968. He has written various published articles and books about geography, environmental resources and people of northern Canada. He retired in 1984 and lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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Scope and content

This fonds consists of 71 photographs, 47 colour slides, one photocopy of a map showing the settlement of Hay River in 1945, 6 original sketch maps of various other communities also from 1945, and one report entitled "Report on Physical Geography Study of the Western Arctic, 1947." The photographs show various communities across the north including, Hay River, Fort Smith, Fort Simpson, Fort Providence, Pine Point, Tulita, Inuvik, Aklavik, Port Radium, Rankin Inlet and Yellowknife. The photographs of Hay River show dwellings and tents; however, there are also images of the meteorological station, airfield and Hudson's Bay Company. The images of Yellowknife are primarily aerial images of the town, images of Old Town, residential areas and places of business. There are also photographs of Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) barracks, Con Mine, Gordon Lake Mine, Negus Mine and commercial gardens. The photographs of Port Radium show the Eldorado uranium mine. Other photographs show pipeline activity at Inuvik. The slides are also mainly aerial images, and document communities throughout the NWT and Nunavut, including Yellowknife, Fort Smith, Fort Good Hope, Inuvik, Tuktoyaktuk, Aklavik, Hay River and the Mackenzie river. Nunavut locations documented on slides include Cambridge Bay, Baffin Island, Mansel Island, Prince Charles Island, Boothia Peninsula and Arctic Bay. One colour slide is a picture of Tom Doornbos of Yellowknife, carrying his water pails. The report was generated from personal observations by Robinson during a visit to the western arctic in August of 1947. The majority of the report focuses on observations about Victoria Island, Prince of Wales Island, Somerset Island and the Boothia Peninsula; however, there are also notations concerning the topography from Yellowknife to Bathurst Inlet. The report includes a diary of the trip and contains discussions of the topography, mapping, geology, ice conditions, vegetation and animal life. The report was originally produced for the Federal Government, Lands and Development Services Branch, Northwest Territories and Yukon Services.

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      The vast majority of Mr. Robinson's records are held by the UBC Archives in Vancouver as the J. Lewis Robinson fonds. There are also records of his at the Yukon Archives.

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