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Richmond archives volunteer recognized for outstanding impact

John Campbell is a 'driving force' behind the Friends of the Richmond Archives' social media, says Heritage BC.
John Campbell, board member and social media coordinator of the Friends of the Richmond Archives, recently received an award for his impact as a volunteer.

If you've read a story about Richmond's history, chances are it was either written by or written with information curated by John Campbell.

John Campbell, board member and social media coordinator of the Friends of the Richmond Archives, was recently recognized for his impact at the 2024 Heritage BC Awards.

"It is, of course, very nice to be recognized for the work I’ve done. I certainly didn’t expect to receive an award like this," the Outstanding Impact Volunteer Award recipient told the Richmond News.

"I feel fortunate to be able to work at the archives with such a great, supportive group of staff and Friends of the Richmond Archives volunteers who are so dedicated to preserving Richmond’s heritage."

Campbell is the "driving force" behind the Friends of the Richmond Archives' social media program, according to Heritage BC.

For the past 12 years, he has researched and written about 650 social media posts on pieces of local history. He also creates videos for the Friends of the Richmond Archives' YouTube channel and writes regular articles about the growth and development of the city for his "Outside the Box" blog. 

As well, he maintains the HistoryPin site that helps users identify present-day locations of historical buildings, places and events.

Campbell, who is a retired engineer and industrial historian, began his volunteering journey at the Friends of the Richmond Archives began in 2010 when he retired and moved to Richmond from Powell River.

"I was involved with historical research and writing in my hometown of Powell River and wanted to continue with that type of thing," he explained.

A long-time historian, Campbell told the News his interest in history "just happened."

He credits it to growing up in a historic district where his family had "been there since the beginning." He also worked in a mill with equipment operating since the early 20th century, which sparked his interest in industrial history.

At the suggestion of former city archivist Bill Purver and with Campbell at the helm, the Friends of the Richmond Archives decided to start a social media program to increase community outreach and raise awareness about the records kept in the archives.

"Social media is, by far, the most effective way to reach a large number of people and give them some insight into the history of their community and information that is available at the archives," Campbell explained.

He added posts can generate a lot of interest and conversation especially when it's something community members remember.

With a breadth of knowledge about Richmond's history, it's a little difficult for Campbell to pinpoint his favorite tidbit.

"There are so many interesting and surprising things that have happened here, things that most people have no idea about," he said.

"Whenever I start looking into a subject, I guess it becomes my favourite."

For more information about the awards and other recipients, click here.