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Pacific Tribune Photograph Collection

Pacific Tribune Photograph Collection

The Pacific Socialist Education Association’s Pacific Tribune photograph collection comprises over 40,000 35-mm images taken for the weekly Vancouver labour newspaper Pacific Tribune. The images cover a twenty-year period, from 1972 to 1992, one of the most active periods in British Columbia’s labour history.

The paper had originally been established by the Communist Party of Canada as the B.C. Workers’ News in 1935 and published under the Pacific Tribune name continuously since 1946. For most of its history, it had relied on photographs borrowed from other publications for illustration and the year 1972 marked the first time that staff was specifically assigned to photography. Associate editor and later editor Sean Griffin shot photographs for the paper throughout the twenty years, and he was later joined on staff by another writer-photographer Dan Keeton, who began work in 1982 and continued until the paper ceased publication in 1992. In addition to their regular use in the Tribune, many of the photographs also appeared in other labour newspapers, journals and books in B.C.

The beginning of the collection coincides with the period immediately following the election of the province’s first New Democratic Party (NDP) government in 1972. It covers the period from the mid-1970s through the 1980s when wage control programs and government austerity programs were emerging as a key feature of the B.C. economy and the province’s labour movement was intensely active in defending labour rights and collective agreements. Included in the collection are images from some of the most tumultuous events involving British Columbia’s labour and social movements, including the province-wide campaign against insurance rate increases introduced by the new Social Credit government following the NDP defeat; the opposition to federal wage controls that culminated in a one-day national work stoppage in 1976; the historic Solidarity movement in 1983; and labour’s campaign — that also included a one-day work stoppage in 1987 — against government legislation that severely curtailed labour’s right to organize unions and bargain collectively. The collection is also a rich source of images from other social movements, including rallies and campaigns for human rights and the internationally recognized Vancouver walks for peace during the mid-1980s.

Over 4,500 of these images have been digitized and are available here. Many of the images are accompanied by descriptive text contributed by Griffin and Keeton that further details and contextualizes the events documented.

License and Usage Permissions

Images from the Pacific Tribune Photograph Collection have been made available by Simon Fraser University Library under a Creative Commons attribution, non-commercial license. A full legal outline of the license can be viewed at: We encourage the appropriate open use of images from this collection for educational and other not-for-profit purposes. Attribution/citation should be provided as follows:

Image [insert image number here, eg. MSC160-1961_15] courtesy of the Pacific Tribune Photograph Collection, a digital initiative of Simon Fraser University Library. [Please include the website url when images are used in an offline or print-based context].

Parties interested in using images from the Pacific Tribune Photograph Collection for commercial purposes should contact Special Collections and Rare Books, SFU Library.


SFU Special Collections and Rare Books gratefully acknowledges the financial support provided by the Pacific Socialist Education Association and the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre's "B.C. History Digitization Program" to make this collection available online.

Contributed by Special Collections and Rare Books, Simon Fraser University Library.