Collection - William John Hills Collection

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

William John Hills Collection

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  • Graphic material
  • Textual record

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Statement of scale (cartographic)

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

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Physical description area

Physical description

Includes 53 photographs, 2 postcards, and 1 receipt.

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Name of creator

(1923, 1982)

Biographical history

William John Hills immigrated to Canada sometime in the 1890s from the United Kingdom. Hills was considered to be a ‘home child’ who along with many other were sent to Canada between 1869 to the late 1930s during the child emigration movement. Hills ran away from his labour-based placement and was adopted by the Speer family. Hills married Betsey (née Jones) Hills in 1906. The Hills and Jones family were friends with Joe Keeper, a Canadian marathon athlete in the 1912 Olympics.

Some members of the Hills family worked for the Norway House Indian Residential School, located in Rossville, Manitoba. William Hills and his son, Arthur Edward Hills, born in 1909, worked at the Norway House school while Betsey’s brother, Joseph Jones, began as a teacher in 1914. Betsey taught sewing at the school while William worked as a custodian. William also created a garden to grow fresh vegetables for the children and the staff members. Joseph later became a Reverend and the principal of the Norway House school from 1944 to 1946. During William’s employment at the school, he took various photographs as an amateur photographer. He died in 1961.

Norway House Indian Residential School was a boarding school for Aboriginal children built in 1899, managed by the Methodist Missionary Society of Canada. The school began with three staff members and 56 students in its first year. The original building was destroyed by a fire on February 26, 1913. After the new building was built, the school reopened on October 15, 1915, able to accommodate 80 students. The school was operated by the United Church in 1925. Norway House reopened again in 1954 after another fire that destroyed the building on May 29, 1946. The Indian Affairs Department officially closed Norway House as an Indian Residential School on June 30, 1967. The building was then converted into classroom space for the Day School Programme for children living in the area.

Custodial history

William John Hills Collection was donated by William John Hill’s grandchild Isobel (nee Hills) Tamney and her husband Dalton.

Scope and content

The collection primarily consists of photographs of the environment around the Norway House Indian Residential School. Several images taken of individuals on a Curtiss Model F aircraft display the aircraft that was used for the first air mail run to Rossville. The collection also contains a receipt and postcards.

The collection has one series titled William John Hills Collection.

Notes area

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  • English

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No further accruals are expected.

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Created by Sara Min on 3 May, 2017.

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