In-Depth Study

Vernon Cuthbert “Bert” Brink (1912–2007) was a student of John Davidson’s who later became a UBC professor in agronomy, the science of soil management and crop production. Brink often accompanied Davidson on Vancouver Natural History Society field trips and had a close relationship with him. Listen to an interview with Brink or read the transcripts of Brink’s detailed memories of John Davidson.
Listen to or read more of Vernon Brink’s memories of John Davidson, including his descriptions of some of John Davidson’s lantern slides.
Robert F. Scagel, another of John Davidson’s students, later became the head of the UBC department of botany and is now a professor emeritus. Listen to or read the transcripts of an interview with Scagel in which he recalls his days as a Davidson’s student and provides details of Davidson’s personality and the early history of the UBC department of botany.
John Davidson often spoke eloquently and urgently of the need for conservation. Follow his 1924 presidential address to the Vancouver Natural History Society to discover the environmental issues that the young city of Vancouver faced.
Sunao “Steve” Shigematsu was a Canadian of Japanese descent and a member of the Vancouver Natural History Society. During the Second World War, Shigematsu was confined to an internment camp. Read the series of letters through which Shigematsu, John Davidson and the Office of the Custodian, Japanese Evacuation Section worked to entrust Davidson with Shigematsu’s butterfly collection.
William McGhee was a student of John Davidson’s from 1941 to 1947, although his coursework was interrupted by his service in the Second World War. Read McGhee’s letter to his granddaughter, in which he talks of his memories of John Davidson and Andrew Hutchinson.
When Davidson first arrived in Canada, he found work as a field assistant in the newly formed provincial botanical office. He was later promoted to the position of provincial botanist. As part of his work during the office’s short existence, Davidson wrote three annual reports on the office’s activities. Read the first of these reports to learn details about the many programs introduced by Davidson to spread knowledge of the native flora of British Columbia.
Many natural historians keep detailed notes about their observations of the natural world. John Davidson was no exception. Browse through a few of John Davidson’s handwritten notebooks in these interactive slide shows.
After 25 years of work in the province of British Columbia, John Davidson gave a presentation on the progression of knowledge regarding the flora and natural history of British Columbia from 1911 to 1936. Examine John Davidson’s notes from his speech to the Vancouver Natural History Society.
In this 1914 speech to the Vancouver Chamber of Mines, John Davidson explains the value of increasing British Columbians’ knowledge about their province’s botany and natural history. Read Davidson’s definition of native flora as well as his suggestions for using knowledge of botany to make predictions about an area’s landscapes and geology.
Recent gardening trends recommend using native plants because they are suited to local areas’ environmental conditions. In this speech to Vancouver residents, learn how John Davidson supported the use of native plants in gardening as early as 1915.
John Davidson’s speech to the British Columbia Academy of Science in 1912 provides insight into Davidson’s view of how little British Columbians knew about their province’s flora and landscapes. Read about Davidson’s plans for promoting knowledge of natural history and botany within the province.
Learn about the history and goals of the Arbor Day movement within Vancouver through John Davidson’s 1929 presidential address to the Vancouver Natural History Society.
John Davidson believed that the development of the City of Vancouver and its public institutions should include buildings and sites dedicated to natural history. Read Davidson’s 1918 presidential address to the Vancouver Natural History Society to learn more about his vision for Vancouver.