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Special Collections: Canadian History

About This Collection

Judge F.W. Howay Portrait ca. 1920 The private libraries of British Columbia Judge Frederic William Howay (1867-1943, pictured left in a portrait taken ca. 1920) and Dr. Robie Lewis Reid (1866-1945, pictured right in an undated photo) formed the nucleus of Rare Books and Special Collections when they were donated in 1943 and 1945, respectively. Howay and Reid studied law at Dalhousie University. Both graduated in 1890, and in 1893 they formed the law firm of Howay & Reid in New Westminster. The partnership lasted until 1906 when Howay became a Judge.

F.W. Howay was a student of history more than a collector of books. He sought out books to challenge and further his knowledge of the events that interested him. Of special interest was the Maritime Fur Trade, a subject on which he became an international authority. He was known to write notes and changes directly onto the pages of his texts. Howay assembled a working library, through which he became authority on every subject that he studied. The collection totaled about 3,500 books and a number of maps and photographs as well as manuscripts.

When the plans for UBC were developed in the early 1900's, Dr. Reid determined the focus that would shape his collection practices for the rest of his career. He understood that the new university would likely be forced to focus on books of general interest and immediate need, so he assembled a collection of Canadian history and literature, and books by Canadian authors to present to the university. Dr. Reid was a pure collector, whose eye was not limited to books; he was also an accomplished numismatist. At the time of its donation to the University, Dr. Reid's collection included over 9,000 books, over 4,000 pamphlets, and a collection of other media, including maps, photographs and correspondence.

This LibGuide page has been adapted from older UBC Library content created by Ken Hawkins in 1998.

Archival Materials

Colocating This Collection

Want to explore this collection but don't know where to start? We've created some links that can help you discover the material in this collection.


Indexes, Catalogues, and Bibliographies in Print

A handbook and guide to the Howay-Reid and Northwest collections of Canadiana / compiled by James W. Pilton [for the] University of British Columbia Library. Vancouver: UBC Press, 1951.

Canadian books : [a checklist of Canadiana in the library of Robie Lewis Reid / compiled by R.L. Reid] Published approximately 1900-approximately 1945.

An annotated bibliography of materials on John R. Jewitt, captive at Nootka : especially items from the Howay-Reid Collection, Special Collections and University Archives Division, University of British Columbia Library / Norman Amor. 1965.

Howay collection ; Reid collection / University of British Columbia Library. Vancouver, [194-?]

Howay/Reid Room manual. [Vancouver, B.C. : The Library, 195-].


Woodward, F., & Gundry, F. (2003). Maps and BC history. B.C. Historical News, 36(3). p. 42.

  • This articles provide an overview of maps available at Rare Books and Special Collections; includes a description of maps in the Howay-Reid Collection.

Author Search

Howay, F. W. (Frederic William), 1867-1943

Reid, Robie Lewis, 1866-1945.

Woodward, Frances, 1938 -

Lowther, Barbara Joan Sonia Horsfield, 1932- (bibliographer)

Strathern, Gloria M. (Gloria Margaret) (bibliographer)

Peel, Bruce Braden, 1916- (bibliographer)

Subject Search

British Columbia--Bibliography

Northwest, Pacific--Bibliography

British Columbia -- History

British Columbia -- Discovery and exploration.

Canada -- History

Fur Trade -- Northwest, Pacific

Fur Trade -- Maritime

Call Numbers in the UBC Library Catalogue

FC164: History of Canada

FC3845: History of British Columbia

Related UBC Library Research Guides

Robie Reid Collection Pre-WWII Canadian Literature Collection

  • Part of the larger Robie Reid Collection, this valuable collection consists of the Canadian literature dating from before WWII.

Canadian Studies

  • This guide has links to academic and newspaper articles, print and online reference books, and statistics concerning Canadian studies.


  • This guide has links to materials concerning history, including books, e-books, articles, journals, theses and dissertations, and microform.

Historical Maps

  • This guide will help you explore the UBC Library Historical Map Collection, featuring maps from all over the world, with many maps of Canada and BC.

Beyond our Collections