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Fonds AM1 - Bell-Irving family collection

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Bell-Irving family collection

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  • Textual record
  • Graphic material
  • Photograph

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  • 1861-1980, 1861-1968 predominant (Creation)
    Bell-Irving family

Physical description area

Physical description

  • 2.6 m of textual records
  • 145 photographs

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Biographical history

The Bell-Irving family were descendants of Henry Bell Irving, a Glasgow, Scotland merchant. Bell Irving resided in Millbank, Dumfries County, and in 1851 he married Williamina McBean Irving. The couple had seven children, two of whom established the family in Vancouver. The eldest son, Henry Ogle Bell-Irving (1856-1931) and his brother, Dr. Duncan Bell-Irving, moved to Granville in 1885. The family retained properties in Scotland, which were administered by a trust after the death of Henry Bell Irving in or before 1863.

In Vancouver, Henry Ogle Bell-Irving went on to found and operate a number of prominent Vancouver businesses, including Anglo-British Columbia Packing Company and Bell-Irving Insurance. Dr. Duncan Bell-Irving practiced medicine in Vancouver for many years; in 1900 he joined his brother's firm, H. Bell-Irving Co. Ltd.

Custodial history

Transferred, in part, from the Centennial Museum.

Scope and content

The fonds consists of primarily of the records of Henry Ogle Bell-Irving, including his diaries (1889-1930), a deed book (1887-1894), address books, scrapbooks (1903-1931), a file of loose clippings which includes a copy of schedule of sundry personal assets and property of H. Bell-Irving (1930), letter-books (1861-1930), and business records of various Bell-Irving firms, including audited accounts and annual reports, A.B.C. Packing Co. Ltd. Vancouver and London (1891-1911), minute books and annual financial reports of the Bell-Irving Insurance Agencies Ltd., (1920-1973), clippings (1920-1931), and the Pacific Fisherman Yearbook (1935).

Also included are three scrapbooks of salmon can labels, summary statistics on company canneries and on the B.C. salmon canning industry, and an H. Bell-Irving and Co. Private Cipher Code (1912) and annual financial reports. There is also material relating to the management of the estate of Henry Bell Irving in Scotland. This includes document copy books, financial reports, a journal, a ledger and a cash book. Also included is a family tree compiled in ca. 1980 and a logbook dated 1907-1909 from the "Beatrice". Photographs depict workers and a group portrait of industry businessmen. Other photographs pertain primarily to Duncan Bell-Irving's aviation career during World War 1 and to the wartime experiences of his brothers Malcolm (Mick), Roderick and Richard who were also officers, and sister Isabel, a volunteer nurse in a London military hospital.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Records donated by Mrs. Elizabeth O'Keily and Mr. Gordon Bell-Irving.


Photographs in this fonds have been assigned item numbers with the prefix "CVA 355" or "CVA 1158".

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Associated materials

Related records include the Anglo-British Columbia Packing Company fonds (AM870) and the Duncan Bell-Irving fonds (AM1158).

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General note

The fonds includes records from separate accruals formerly identified and described as AM1, AM485 and AM592; citations for these records should use only AM1.

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