The Collection

This exhibition tells the story of Mabel “MB” Williams, an extraordinary, ordinary woman who became devoted to national parks and engendered that devotion in others. This collection contains digitized correspondence from Williams's life, her guidebooks and other publications, and audio interviews with Williams herself which reveal her influence on, and love for, Canada's national parks. 

I wish to thank three sources for the letters, photographs, publications, and oral interview that make up this collection. MB Williams’s niece, the late Frances Girling, allowed me to digitize what is now the bulk of the collection while assisting her in donating them to Library and Archives Canada. (See M.B. Williams fonds, R12219-0-3-E, LAC.) Williams’s grandniece, Sylvia Watson, shared some wonderful photographs and a few letters. Finally, the archival collection of the Second Century Club, a group of retired Parks Canada staffers, provided the letters about parks history to and from Williams in the 1960s-70s. (See “The Second Century Club’s Second Life.”) Permission to digitize and share these documents were granted by all three parties.

Correspondence

This is a chronological collection of the letters and correspondence between MB Williams and the people she worked with, admired, and loved. 

MB Williams to her mother and sister Eva, 1899

MB Williams to “Dear People” (her family), 15 August 1901

MB Williams to “Home-birds” (her family), 18 February 1902

Postcard “Chateau at Lake Louise” from Frank Williamson, Assistant Controller, Dominion Parks Branch, to MB Williams, 1 April 1912

MB Williams to her family, 11 October 1928

MB Williams to her family, 10 October 1930

MB Williams to her family, 1931

MB Williams to her family, 16 November 1931

MB Williams to her brother Stalky, 19 November 1931

Grey Owl to MB Williams, 29 October 1932

MB Williams to her family, December 1932

MB Williams to her family, April 1933

MB Williams to her family, 1 June 1933

MB Williams to her niece Frances, 23 August 1933

MB Williams to her family, 25 August 1933

MB Williams to “334” (her family), September 1933

MB Williams to her mother, 18 September 1933

MB Williams to her family, 18 October 1933

MB Williams to her family, 29 November 1933

MB Williams to her mother, 1934

MB Williams to her niece Ruth (Rufus), January 1934

MB Williams to her niece Ruth (Rufus), 6 February 1934

MB Williams to her niece Ruth (Rufus), 14 May 1934

MB Williams to her mother, 6 May 1935

A. B. Buckley to MB Williams, 18 May 1935

J. C. Campbell, Director of Publicity, Parks Branch, to MB Williams, 2 December 1935

J. C. Campbell to MB Williams, 4 January 1936

Marius Barbeau, National Museum of Canada, to MB Williams, 5 March 1936

J. C. Campbell to MB Williams, 20 March 1936

John Hampden, of Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd, Publishers, to MB Williams, 23 April 1936

J. C. Campbell to MB Williams, 16 April 1936

MB Williams to A. B. Buckley, 8 June 1936

Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie to MB Williams, 5 November 1936

 Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie to MB Williams, 2 December 1936

Radio broadcast, forwarded by J. B. Harkin, (retired) Commissioner, Parks Branch, 20 February 1937

Judge Lees to MB Williams, 3 February 1937

MB Williams to Mary Bird Herridge (Zöe), 1940 

J. B. Harkin to MB Williams, 23 November 1941

MB Williams to her niece Ruth (Rufus),1947

Marius Barbeau (retired) to MB Williams, 10 May 1955

MB Williams to W. F. Lothian, Assistant Chief (and parks historian), Parks Branch, 20 March 1960

Telegram to MB Williams, October 1961

W. F. Lothian to MB Williams, 13 June 1967

MB Williams to W. F. Lothian, 15 June 1967

MB Williams to W. F. Lothian, 16 June 1968

MB Williams to Mr. and Mrs. W. F. Lothian, 11 December 1968

MB Williams to W. F. Lothian, 24 June 1969

W. F. Lothian to MB Williams, 24 July 1969

MB Williams to W. F. Lothian, 7 August 1969

MB Williams to W. F. Lothian, 9 August 1969

W. F. Lothian to MB Williams, 22 August 1969

MB Williams to W. F. Lothian, 16 November 1969

MB Williams to W. F. Lothian, 27 June 1970

MB Williams to W. F. Lothian, 7 September [1970]

W. F. Lothian to John I. Nicol, Director, Parks Canada 7 January 1972

Prime Minister Jean Chrétien to MB Williams, 16 February 1972

W. F. Lothian to Eleanor Shaw (MB's close friend), 26 November 1972

Eleanor Shaw to W. F. Lothian, 20 November 1972 (wrongly dated by Shaw)

Eleanor Shaw to W. F. Lothian, 18 October 1980

W. F. Lothian, “Short Biographical Sketch of Mabel Berta Williams,” 20 March 1984

Publications

Williams, Mabel Berta. The Banff-Windermere Highway. Ottawa: F. A. Acland, 1924.

Williams, Mabel Berta. Waterton Lakes National Park. Ottawa: Department of the Interior, [1927?].

Williams, M. B., Jasper National Park. Ottawa: Department of the Interior, 1928.

Williams, M. B., Prince Albert National Park. Ottawa: Department of the Interior, 1928.

Williams, M. B., Through the Heart of the Rockies and Selkirks. Ottawa: Department of the Interior, 1929.

Williams, M. B. Jasper Trails. Ottawa: Department of the Interior, [1930?].

Williams, M. B., The Kicking Horse Trail. Ottawa: F. A. Acland, 1930.

Williams, M. B. Guardians of the Wild. London: Thomas Nelson, 1936.

Williams, M. B. “​National Parks and Sanctuaries in Canada: Part II.”​ The Animals' Friend (June 1936): 193-95. 

Williams, M. B. The Banff Jasper Highway. 2nd ed. Saskatoon, Sask: H. R. Larson Publishing Co., 1963.

Oral Interviews

Below are two audio interviews (and their timelines) with MB Williams conducted by her niece Ruth and Ruth's husband Len Wertheimer in 1969 and 1970.

VE_MB Williams_track_one_combined_final_tracks_1-2.mp3, by rdeol
VE_MB Williams_track_two_combined_final_tracks_3-9.mp3, by rdeol

MB Williams's oral interview timelines 

Miscellaneous

“​Homeland Dear Forever,” date unknown

“​An Interminable Ode,” date unknown