Collection of rare books offered for sale on coast

Ha-Shilth-Sa, August 9, 2011

Rare book collector David Ellis displays two of his more popular books.

Po — 

More than 60,000 books were made available for sale at the Port Alberni Friendship Centre Aug. 9 and 10. Some were limited edition, some out of print, most were rare and many contained Nuu-chah-nulth history, stories and photographs.

David Ellis arrived at the Port Alberni Friendship Center with more than 50 boxes of books. He said he spent 11 years collecting his books and only sells them when he’s on the road visiting communities at his book sale events.

In July he sold books in Tofino.

With such titles as “Reminiscences of the West Coast” by Reverend Charles Moser and “Voices of the Sound” by Margaret Horsfield, Ellis said not only do the books tell of what life was like for Nuu-chah-nulth people more than 100 years ago, but they also can serve to help former residential school students.

In order to qualify for residential school compensation, former students must prove they attended residential school. For many, this is impossible because some of the institutions were burned down, losing all records in the fire.

Some of the local history titles Ellis offers contain group photographs of former students.

Cracking open an old book, Ellis shows a black and white photograph of young Nuu-chah-nulth children at a residential school.

“If they’re in this photograph they can bring this in and say here is your proof,” said Ellis.

Specializing in First Nations books, Ellis offers books and publications for and by first nations throughout B.C. and Alberta.

He has books written by Nuu-chah-nulth authors, as well as books written about Nuu-chah-nulth-aht by anthropologists, archaeologists, linguists and photographers, including Drucker, Arima, Sapir and Carter.

Also available are materials useful for treaty research, including publications on treaties reached by other first nations and materials about water, land, sea and other rights.

For the artists there are books about both ancient and contemporary Nuu-chah-nulth art, weaving, canoe building, and cookery.

There is plenty to choose from for schools wanting to add aboriginal content to their libraries. First Nations children’s books and curriculum materials from K to 12, adult education, as well as First Nations fiction are in stock.

Ellis admits his books are pricey but, he said, many are hard to find. An out of print, very rare book cost $100, but Ellis is willing to make a deal for bulk buyers and he’s willing to barter.

He has not made a listing of all his titles because, he said, it is constantly changing as he sells books and acquires more through trades and purchases.

Preferring not to go through the hassle of mail order sales, Ellis said he would rather visit the communities and meet the people face-to-face where he can trade books and share information.

Ellis will be back on Vancouver Island selling his books next summer.

By Denise Titian