“The Honourable Aleck” – stories of our history

Probus June 5th“How do we learn about history?…Burrow into it and learn about the lives of the people.” This was the focus of Ian Bruce Robertson’s presentation at our June 5th meeting.  Robertson, author of “The Honourable Aleck: Love, Law and Tragedy in Early Canada”, dedicated the morning’s presentation to his grade 5 teacher, who had an inspirational way of teaching history. Her focus was on the people rather than on dry facts and dates, and she told exciting stories about the people of the times they studied.  Taking this approach to heart, Ian spent six years researching and writing about his relative, Alexander Robertson, the first Provincial Secretary in BC.  His book, a work of creative non-fiction, written about thetime of the Gold Rush in BC, was based on over 6,000 letters, photographs from the Royal BC Museum, over 2,500 documents and the happy chance discovery of old volumes of biographies published in 1913, which he found in  friends’ home, when they were packing up to move. This six year project was a labourof love. Robertson read excerpts from a section of his book about the first legislative session of BC, making the event come alive for his audience. His account of Alexander Robertson’s life was a fascinating look at early BC history. Equally intriguing were his accounts of the research process, discovery of documents and small details from old BC newspapers and the final  publishing of the book.   His final words for our group: “ From writing the book, I have learned that politics haven’t changed a bit!”
Text by Pam Foster
Photograph by Robert Hartley

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