All the strange Gods
the Arts, Historical, and Scientific Society
The Vancouver Art Association began in 1889, in a small store on Hastings Street. It failed just a few years later. (Some newspaper accounts of the day blame the exclusion of women for the club’s demise.) In 1894, the Art, Historical and Scientific Association took over the smaller association’s collection.
This newer and more robust organization, formed in the foyer of Christ Church Cathedral, had big plans. It aimed to develop an art gallery, a library and a museum of antiquities representing First Nations life, as well as to preserve a collection of BC’s natural products.
Anyone who shared the organization’s goals could become members. In particular, the association welcomed those in the educated upper class in order to create a more “cultured” membership. They did not want a membership made up of labourers like that of the Aberdeen Workingmen’s Natural History and Scientific Society.
In reality, the association often had difficulty fulfilling its lofty goals. Natural history could not inspire the membership and, despite regular requests at annual meetings for people to come forward and carry out “original investigation,” few answered the calls. As the executive wrote in an annual report:
Surely amongst our Members there are some who would desire to form classes in some or all of these subjects [ethnology, botany, entomology, mineralogy, etc], whose collections and reports could be exhibited and discussed and thus historical and scientific groups would be formed which by study and research would materially increase the status of the Association and make it more worthy of its name.