Gosnell was the first provincial librarian, from 1893 to 1898, and also the first provincial archivist, from 1908 to 1910. He wrote one of the earliest histories of B.C.

Born in 1860, R. Edward Gosnell was an Ontario teacher and journalist who came to B.C. in 1888 and became provincial librarian in 1893. He was secretary to the premier from 1896 to 1901. In 1890 the Vancouver News-Advertiser published his digest simply called British Columbia listing natural resources and industrial possibilities. A similar work called Land of the Okanagan appeared in 1891. The Year Book Of British Columbia: Compendium appeared in 1897 as an edited version of a 406-page work from the King's Printer. In 1900 He co-authored Art Work on British Columbia, Canada: Published in Twelve Parts (Victoria?), with William H. Carre. The books contains many photographs of B.C. at the turn of the century. Gosnell produced The Year Book of British Columbia (Government of the Province of British Columbia, Victoria) again in 1903. His 783-page A History of British Columbia (Lewis Publishing, 1906) consisted largely of biographical profiles. It was followed by a biography co-written with Robert Hamilton Coats, Sir James Douglas (Toronto: Morang & Co., 1908), plus The Year Book of British Columbia and Manual of Provincial Information (Legislative Assembly, 1911) and The Story of Confederation (1918). Gosnell contributed to several other books, including Adam Shortt's Canada and its Provinces (1914) but his contributions as a historian are often overlooked. Gosnell co-wrote A History of British Columbia for the B.C. Historical Association in 1913 with E.O. S. Scholefield, just a year before Scholefield partnered with Judge F.W. Howay to produce the standard four-volume history, British Columbia from the Earliest Times to the Present. Gosnell died in 1931. There's a CNR whistle stop named in his honour at the confluence of the North Thompson and Albreda Rivers.


A History of British Columbia (Lewis Publishing, 1906)
James Douglas (Toronto: Morang & Co., 1908).
The Year Book of British Columbia and Manual of Provincial Information, Coronation Edition (Victoria: Legislative Assembly, 1911).
A History of British Columbia (B.C. Historical Association, 1913). With E.O. S. Scholefield.

[Alan Twigg / BCBW 2003] "History of B.C." "1900-1950"