Interior of 502 Vernon Street, when the building was used as a post office. Touchstones Nelson Collection

Touchstones Archives

The Shawn Lamb Archives collects, preserves and provides on-site access to textual, cartographic, visual and audio records of Nelson and district. The Archives, which includes an extensive research library, are located on the lower level of Touchstones Nelson.

Archive Hours:
Thursday to Saturday from 11am to 4pm
Closed Sunday thru Wednesday

Important collections include:

  • The Notre Dame University/David Thompson University Centre fonds
  • Kootenaiana Archival collection
  • 54th Kootenay Battalion Association collection
  • Nelson Daily News collection
  • West Kootenay Forest History archives
  • Collections of various West Kootenay photographers

For descriptions of archival materials held at Touchstones Nelson please visit MemoryBC The British Columbia Archival Information Network.


Online Photo Archives

Online Photo Gallery

The Shawn Lamb Archives of Touchstones Nelson Museum of Art and History houses thousands of photographs that document the early history of Nelson and area, its peoples, places and events from the late 1800s to the late 1900s.

In 2011, Touchstones Nelson completed the first phase of an image digitization project that, for the first time, provided online access to hundreds of photos from Society’s archival collection. The photos from this first phase are available for viewing through the Touchstones Nelson FlickrŪ Photostream site: Touchstones Nelson has now completed the second phase of this significant project with an online gallery, which provides access to an additional 1000 photographs. The gallery is organized by various collections within the Society’s holdings.

This digitization project was completed in order to preserve the deteriorating negatives and to make the collection more accessible to the public on the World Wide Web. It was proudly supported in part by the Columbia Basin Trust, the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance and the Hamber Foundation.


Touchstones Nelson’s Flickr® Photostream

Touchstones Nelson’s extensive collection of nitrate negatives are now accessible for viewing through the Society’s photostream account on Flickr® via The Flickr® site allows the general user to help Society staff identify individuals in the photos, as well as locations and landmarks, by leaving comments and/or tagging images. The site currently includes photographs by Stevens Studio, Archie Renwick, J. H. Allen, Geo. A. Meeres, and J. D. Spurway, as well as the construction of the CPR Procter-Kootenay Landing link, local hotels and saloons and fruit labels. Photographs will be uploaded onto the account regularly, so be sure to check it out!

The Flickr® Nitrate Negative Digitization project was generously supported through a grant from the Columbia Basin Trust.


Photo Exhibits

Snapshots of the West

The Jacob “Jake” Ludwig sous-fonds consists of 202 black and white glass-plate and cellulose nitrate negatives. These photographs depict early BC mining camps and equipment; trains, steamships and sternwheelers of the Columbia Basin and the Coast; towns and cities including: Nelson, Rossland, Vernon, Kamloops and Revelstoke, parks in Vancouver and Victoria and various government buildings. Also included are some images of the Yukon, Southern Alaska, and Northern California.

The creation of the site has been funded in part by the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, University of British Columbia, British Columbia History Digitization Program.

Visit the exhibition at


Landscape Lost: Forestry and Life in the Duncan River Valley

Landscape Lost: Forestry and Life in the Duncan River Valley is a collection of photographs by Robert “Bob” Wallace of the Upper Duncan River Valley including fire lookouts, old mining and trappers cabins, community gatherings, as well as, the communities of Howser and Lardeau.

The BC Forest Service hired Wallace around 1939 as a lookoutman at Bear Creek in the Upper Duncan River Valley. Over 200 photographs document the area prior to the construction of the Duncan Dam that flooded the valley in 1967. The images, beautiful in their own right, have added significance in that they document jobs, transportation methods and communities that no longer exist, yet were common place just over half a century ago.

The site includes a biographical sketch of the photographer and excerpts from a work journal kept by Wallace in the summer of 1942 as he worked on the construction of the Bear Lookout in the Upper Duncan Valley.  Visitors to the site will get a glimpse of the talents, hard work ethic and love of the outdoors Wallace shared with his family, friends and co-workers.

The creation of the site has been funded in part by the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, University of British Columbia, British Columbia History Digitization Program. The exhibit is available at:


Changes Upstream - the Photographs of Stanley G. Triggs

During the summers of 1969 to 1972 Stanley Triggs visited the area in Southeastern British Columbia that was to be flooded by the construction in Montana of the Libby Dam on the Kootenay River.  He documented the shift from large productive ranches and range land to wide expanses of water in the area north of the Libby Dam.  Through these photographs he recorded its effect on both the people living in the area and the landscape.

The creation of the site has been funded in part by the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, University of British Columbia, British Columbia History Digitization Program. Visit the exhibition at


A Life in the Woods - Oral Histories from the West Kootenay Forests

Listen to 16 audio interviews and follow along with the transcripts to the memories of sixteen individuals who worked in the forest industry in the West Kootenay during the last century, including forest fire spotters, loggers, truck drivers, and fire fighters. Created from a selection of 16 recorded interviews previously edited for publication in 3 coil-bound volumes by Peter Chapman and Joel Russ for the West Kootenay Forest History Project during the mid-1990’s.  Funding for the development of the site was received from the BC History Digitization Program of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre at the University of British Columbia. View the exhibit online at .


Local History


Up the Lake

- a North Shore of Nelson BC history Project

This website has been created as a means of collecting and recording the history of the North Shore of Nelson from Kokanee Lodge (2mile) to Kokanee Creek (12 mile) over the past 100 years.

This project was funded by the Columbia Basin Trust - Community Initiatives & Affected Areas Programs - RDCK Area F and sponsored by Touchstones Nelson.

It is available at


A History of John Houston

A virtual exhibition based on the life of Nelson’s first mayor, John Houston, is now available thanks to the Nelson History Theatre Society. Featuring rare photographs, engaging excerpts from early Nelson newspapers, and a detailed timeline, the website is both a comprehensive and entertaining resource. The site will be especially interesting for those from this area, since John Houston was a prominent figure in communities throughout the region. Richard Rowberry, Nelson History Theatre's Executive Director undertook most of the research into Mayor Houston’s life with additional assistance provided by Joey Bell, Kendra Cooper, Cricket Carroll, Greg Nesteroff, and web designer Evan Brynne.

The project was funded through a grant from Columbia Basin Trust/Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance, and through contributions from Touchstones Nelson. The Shawn Lamb Archives at Touchstones Nelson facilitated a great deal of the research.

View the site at


Archives offer a glimpse of our past: Nelson's C.P.R. rail yard in 1910. Touchstones Nelson Collection

Touchstones Nelson: Museum of Art and History | 502 Vernon St., Nelson BC, V1L 4E7
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