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Reginald Roy’s Legacy in Special Collections

Permalink 02/14/13 09:27 , Categories: Uncategorized

Dr. Reginald H. Roy’s contribution to the UVic Special Collections is a tremendous legacy for the study of Canadian History, especially military history. Returning as a veteran after WWII, he went to Victoria College and then UBC earning an M.A. in History (1951). He then served with the Canadian Scottish Regiment as a historian in the Historical Section of DND, and as an archivist at the Public Archives of Canada. This early association with archives bore bountiful fruit in his later career as a historian.

Throughout his career as a military historian, and later the Chair of Military History in the UVic History Department, he actively collected archival material which he duly donated to various archival institutions. UVic Special Collections received his book manuscripts, his subject files, his oral history interviews; a large and comprehensive collection of military maps; an interesting collection of military lists, manuals and pamphlets; his correspondence, lectures, photographs, teaching slides, and postcards.

Interviewing for one of his books, he recorded 74 interviews with Major General George Pearkes, and Pearkes's family and associates. Later 51 more interviews were made for book projects with other distinguished veterans. As well, with DND funding, he hired and trained his senior students to conduct interviews with veterans. In all his students deposited, year by year, about 120 interviews in Special Collections. Later this interview based teaching became the inspiration for the much vaunted Veterans Oral History project, which carries on to this day. Altogether the Roy Military history collection contains more than 1,500 hours of interviews. At the end of his UVic career he also deposited 63 tapes that he made of lectures given by military specialists to his class. Suitably, Dr. Roy’s contribution to recording and preserving the memories of veterans was recognized by the Lieutenant Governor in a special ceremony in 2005.

(See The Ring article about the Veterans Oral History Project: http://ring.uvic.ca/05feb03/news/veterans.html)

The library also acquired through his office the Canadian Scottish (Princess Mary’s) regimental archives and the archives of many other distinguished military veterans including two who won Victoria crosses. These records include accounts and diaries of the Crimean War, the Boer War, Major General Pearkes’s WWI experiences, and the WWII Normandy invasion and the great Canadian debate over the flag. The library stacks and the Special Collections book collections also benefitted greatly from his book selections and from his donations of military lists, maps and manuals.

To the UVic Archives he gave records concerning Canadian Officers training corps, in which he served for 10 years; The Victoria College Alumni association and the Social Sciences Research Centre which he headed in the mid-seventies and which published among other things the B.C. Bibliography. He also bought for the Archives the fascinating Helen Christie Riel Rebellion scrapbook. In addition Roy contributed records of many other distinguished British Columbians and Canadians to the B.C. Archives and the Public Archives of Canada.

His legacy is huge and the task of preserving and making accessible these records has been daunting. Over the years Special Collections has applied for and gained SSHRC and Archives grants to first index and then publish a guide to the Reg Roy military oral history interviews. This consists not only of his collection but the collection of six other veteran interview projects. Once reference copies of the tapes were made a guide was published, and orders for copies of the interviews came from across the country and around the world.

Building on this success, John Eggenberger persuaded the Royal United Institute (Victoria Chapter) and the UVic History Department to establish the Veterans Oral History Project to carry on the tradition established by Dr. Roy of training History students to conduct interviews with veterans. Since 2005, a class has been taught in the History department and the student interviews deposited in Special Collections. Up to the present, 214 interviews from this project have been deposited with Special Collections.

In response to the large demand for the interviews from across the world, Special Collections decided to digitize the interviews and make them accessible online. To date 529 interviews are accessible online. As the grants for archiving interviews dried up in the nineties, the Library has had to rely more and more on our students and the library staff to do the work of gathering releases, preparing summaries, adding subject headings and making them all available in our online portal: http://contentdm.library.uvic.ca/cdm/search/collection/collection13

Most of Reg Roy’s papers, including his most recent 2012 accession, have been arranged and described and finding aids can be found online. The Reginald Roy fonds, containing his early manuscripts and papers and later accessions of his material can found at: http://library.uvic.ca/spcoll/guides/sc104.html

In addition guides to other materials can be found by clicking on the following links:

Military maps: http://library.uvic.ca/spcoll/military/milmaps.html

Military manuals: http://library.uvic.ca/spcoll/military/milmanuals.html

Military photographs: http://library.uvic.ca/spcoll/military/milphotos.html

Military posters: http://library.uvic.ca/spcoll/military/milposters.html

Finally, through Roy’s agency we received the papers of many other distinguished veteran-- almost too numerous to mention. These include the following archival materials: Gerald Smedley Andrews collection; Aylmer family fonds; Walter Bapty fonds; J. Cecil Berezowski fonds; Reginald Biscoe fonds; Ace Beach fonds; Shawn Cafferky collection, one of his students; Canadian Army collection; 16th Battalion (The Canadian Scottish) fonds; Canada. Canadian Army. Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary's) Canadian Scottish Regimental Museum collection; Canada. Canadian Army. Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary's); Defence Associations National Network. Pacific Region fonds; William Okell Holden Dodds fonds; Destrube family fonds; J.W. Farris fonds; Federation of Military and United Services Institutes of Canada fonds; Margaret Fletcher fonds; Fort Henry Prisoner of War Camp collection; Major-General Harry Letson fonds; Frederick Victor Longstaff fonds; Keith Macgowan fonds; Theodore Benning Monk fonds; George Randolph Pearkes fonds; Cy Peck fonds; A.G. Richards fonds; W.E. Rolls fonds; within the Reginald H. Roy fonds John Laurie (RCAF Provost Marshall), Rev. E.G. Parker, and the Red Chevron Association of Vancouver Island; Royal United Services Institute of Vancouver Island fonds; Robert Lowder Seaborn fonds; Ralph Thistle fonds; Hugh MacIntyre Urquhart fonds.

Links to each collection can be found on our Archival Collections page.

Chris Petter, February 2013

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