Museum & Gaol


February 28, 2018 in the Agricultural Hall from 1 – 4 pm.

This will be your first opportunity to view the recently digitized pictures taken by early island resident John Aitken.

With a photographer’s eye and a 4” x 5” camera, amateur photographer John Aitken captured images of his Gulf Island life in the late 19th, early 20th century.  Settling on Mayne Island in 1909 he and his family lived in and operated a grocery store in Miner’s Bay.  Aitken’s legacy includes over 300 glass plate negatives, now a treasure of the DeRousie family. The family have kindly allowed the Mayne Island Museum to make digital and print copies of these historic photographs. 

The collection will be available for viewing at the Mayne Island Agricultural Hall on Feb 28th, 1 – 4 pm and permanently at the Mayne Island Museum.

This project is made possible by the generous cooperation of the DeRousie family, and financial support from the Mayne Island Agricultural Society and a BC/Canada 150 grant.  

Musem/Gaol – Summer Opening Hours:                               DSC_0084

Saturday  10 am to 1 pm
Sunday    12 pm to 2 pm

July 1st weekend to Labour Day weekend
and by request at:


Watch for the addition of the John Aitken historic photographs, on display this summer.

Links to a database containing these photographs will be published here as soon as they become available.

The members of the Society are very excited to announce we have been awarded a grant from the B.C./Canada 150 project for $24,000. The Ag Society is the sponsor and is providing an additional 20% for a total of $30,000 for the project. David Lindquist is Project Administrator and Jennifer Iredale is in charge of Curation.

Don and Doug De Rousie have graciously agreed to share their grandfather’s photographic collection.  We thank them for allowing this opportunity to view this photographic history of Mayne Island and B.C.

Below is an extract from the application as written by Jennifer and Dave:

“Mayne Island settler, John Aitken (1873-1959) had a camera and a good eye.  His collection of 308 silver plate negatives has been passed down through 3 generations to his grandchildren – Don and Doug DeRousie.  Aitken’s photographs are beautifully composed and provide a very special view of the history of not just Mayne Island but also the Klondike gold rush and other parts of BC around the turn of the century. This amazing primary source collection of previously largely unknown material will be preserved and made accessible through this project. 

 The DeRousie family have agreed to work with the Mayne Island Museum Committee (subcommittee of the Mayne Island Agricultural Society) to have these silver plate negatives copied with high resolution images and made accessible through on-line digitization, a permanent exhibit and a rotating display.  The Royal BC Museum curatorial and conservation staff will be consulted on conservation of the silver plates negatives and invited to provide curatorial input and interpretation for the online and physical exhibition of the Aitken photo collection.

To deepen the meaning and significance of the photographs, the project will interview Aitken descendants and gather a history of John Aitken’s life and family. Aitken married Ellen Brown, reputed to be of indigenous heritage from Beecher Bay.  Ellen’s great grandmother Agatha attended the Kuper Island Residential School and family lore is she was from the T’souk Nation. 

Towards building a lasting legacy, the project team will make this previously unavailable material publicly accessible by:

  1. providing internet access to these collections and other Mayne Island Museum material through an on-line database and website.
  2. developing a permanent exhibit in the Museum of selected images of Mayne Island;
  3. a temporary BC / Canada 150 exhibit during 2017 in the historic Mayne Island Agricultural Hall to showcase the larger collection.”

For more photos and details of the John Aitken Collection, click here