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Royal BC Museum buys Moody album

Col. Moody with an unidentified First Nations man, more than 150 years ago, in B.C.  - ROYAL BC MUSEUM
Col. Moody with an unidentified First Nations man, more than 150 years ago, in B.C.
— image credit: ROYAL BC MUSEUM

A 150-year-old photo album owned by one of New Westminster and the province's earliest builders has been acquired by the Royal B.C. Museum.

The photograph and picture album highlights the work and travels of Col. Richard Moody who commanded the British Royal Engineers based in New Westminster. It was bought online from an English auction house in December for just over $26,000.

Friends of the BC Archives, a non-profit organization, contributed $10,000 toward the purchase with the rest coming from the museum and the museum foundation's acquisition funds. A museum spokesperson said it was put up for sale by a former member of the U.K. Royal Navy who found it in a flea market in the 1970s.

There are more than 90 photos, including four believed to have been taken in 1859, and there's also a pencil sketch of Moody's home in New Westminster.

"The album's historical value is unquestionable, as these five images expand our knowledge of what life looked like in colonial British Columbia," said Don Bourdon, a museum curator.

The museum believes the album will complement a collection of letters by Mary Moody, the colonel's wife, donated by Moody family descendants in the 1970s because it shows the places and people she referred to in her letters home.

Moody commanded the Columbia detachment of the British Royal Engineers in the colony of British Columbia and was chief commissioner of lands and works from 1858 to 1863. Moody Park in New Westminster and the city of Port Moody is named after him.

The album was put on display at the Royal BC Museum on March 4 and remained there until March 10 before being moved into the archives.

The museum plans to digitize the photographs and eventually make them available to researchers by appointment.

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