Skip to main content

'These tremendous years'

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/Y3062S

Scope and Contents

Photographs, most measuring approximately 195 x 145 mm or 150 x 95 mm, which were originally housed in an album presented by Chapman to King George V and Queen Mary during the 1930s. They have been disbound for conservation reasons. Many of the photographs are stamped on the reverse with Chapman's official stamp. Not all are his own work, however. Some photographs are captioned on the reverse, but many are not, and some scenes and individuals remain unidentified. Uncaptioned prints have been given brief descriptive titles in parenthesis.

The first section of photographs documents the experience of Canadian and British soldiers fighting on the Western Front during the First World War. It includes some striking images of the misery of trench warfare and of post-war memorial ceremonies held in Belgium in 1922. The second section contains some images of Canada’s First Nations, but largely reflects Chapman’s work as official photographer, recording the visits of distinguished guests to Victoria. These include several Royal Visits: the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, 1901; the Prince of Wales, 1910; and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, 1939. There are also photographs of the Coronation festivities organised for George VI in Victoria in 1937. Other distinguished visitors include Winston Churchill, Lord and Lady Baden-Powell, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, the King and Queen of Siam [Thailand], and Frederick Banting, the co-discover of insulin.

Newspaper cuttings dated 17 Oct 1996, describing the discovery of the album at Bircham Primary School, are also filed with the collection.


  • Creation: 1890 - 1939


Conditions Governing Access

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (

Biographical / Historical

John Howard Arthur Chapman was born in Wiltshire on the 9th October 1861, and in 1890 he moved to Victoria, British Columbia. He was employed initially as a travelling salesman, dealing with a variety of products from soap to shoes, and by 1908 was listed as ‘J. Howard A. Chapman - Importer and Manufacturers’ Agent.’ It is likely that he combined photography with his travelling and became the Official Photographer to the Government of British Columbia. Between 1895 and 1912, Chapman travelled and photographed extensively in Western Canada, establishing an impressive line of quality German-lithographed postcards. From 1912 until 1936, Chapman concentrated his photographic efforts on people, places and events associated with Victoria, Vancouver and the west coast. He died on 12 June 1942.


202 item(s) (202 images)

Language of Materials


Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

fair condition, some extensive fading.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented to the Royal Commonwealth Society Collection, Cambridge University Library, by Helena Nwaokolo, Head Teacher at Birchwell Primary School (now The King George VI School) 15 October 1996.

Originally, the album was presented to Queen Mary and King George V by John Howard Arthur Chapman. It was then presented to Bircham Primary School, Great Bircham, Norfolk, by Queen Mary in 1945. Further images were discovered by Bircham Primary School and added to the collection in May 1998.


This item level description was entered by MJC and WS.


Chapman, John Howard Arthur, 1861-1942, photographer

Includes index.
2007-02-21 16:43:30+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom