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You can now see the oldest item ever printed in Vancouver

UBC Library’s Rare Books & Special Collections recently acquired the only surviving copy of the first issue of a newspaper published in 1886 in Vancouver.

 Image courtesy UBCImage courtesy UBC

On Friday, January 15, 1886, the first edition of The Vancouver Weekly Herald and North Pacific News hit the presses. This is the "first item ever printed in the city of Vancouver," and now it's available for public viewing.

UBC Library’s Rare Books & Special Collections (RBSC) recently acquired the rare newspaper for $7,500 through a private seller, and the artifact will now go into their Chung Collection.

What's even better is that the acquisition represents fresh opportunities for anyone to view the document. See the newspaper in person by booking a tour of UBC Library’s RBSC, or hang tight until it is digitized and made available through UBC Library’s Open Collections, which should happen by the end of January.

According to UBC, the paper does have some mottling and staining, and is showing some signs of separation along its edges.

Still, the document offers a time capsule glance at Vancouver over a century ago. Topics on the front page of this only-remaining copy of the paper include "many local advertisements, histories of the Granville and Vancouver townsites, reportage of the meeting of locals to draft a request for incorporation and a column entitled 'The Chinese Question,'" according to UBC.

The Vancouver Weekly Herald was published by Scottish-born Richard H. Alexander, who came to B.C. in 1862 and became a prominent local figure. Alexander lost Vancouver's first mayoral election (to fellow Scotsman Malcolm Alexander MacLean), and eventually served on the Board of Trade.

"We’re thrilled to be acquiring this item," says Katherine Kalsbeek, Head of RBSC in a media release.

"One of our core mandates is to collect and preserve materials that directly relate to the history of British Columbia. We are committed to developing this core component of our collection."

The UBC Library's RBSC offers tours via a weekly open house, which happens at Wednesdays at 11 am.