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Special Collections: Canadian History

About This Collection

About the same time as the Howay and Reid bequests, Mrs. Alfred James Towle Taylor presented the library with her husband's Arctic collection, much of which had been assembled with the help of his friend, the Artic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson. Taylor, a native of Victoria, was born in 1887 and died in 1945. He was a prominent engineer in British Columbia involved in the building of the Lion's Gate Bridge, the British Properties, and the Capilano Estates. During World War II he was an advisor to the British Ministry of Production in London and New York, and for ten years was responsible for the Guinness interests in British Columbia.

The collection contains material on the discovery and exploration of the Arctic regions, the exploration of the Northwest Passage and the search for Franklin. Many first editions of the major voyages to the Arctic and the searches for the Northwest Passage are present. Maps of the Arctic region are included. The chronological emphasis in on eighteenth and nineteenth century voyages. Current publications on early Arctic discovery and exploration are collected, but not current scientific and technical writing.

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Indexes, Catalogues, and Bibliographies in Print

Amor, Norman L. Beyond the Arctic Circle : materials on Arctic explorations and travels since 1750 in the Special Collections and University Archives Division of the University of British Columbia Library. Vancouver: UBC, 1992.

Amor, Norman L. Catalogue of the Taylor Arctic Collection, Rare Books and Special Collections, UBC Library. Vancouver: UBC Library, 2012

Subject Headings

Arctic Regions

Arctic Regions--Discovery and Exploration

Arctic Regions, Descriptions and Travel

Stefansson, Vilhjalmur, 1879-1962

Call Numbers in the UBC Library Catalogue

G606: Arctic Exploration

G246: European Exploration, Travel, and Expansion (International)


To find maps of the Arctic region at RBSC, click here. Other maps can be found in the Alfred Taylor fonds. 

Related Works

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