This portion of the interview is about how Al Nixon began collecting and saving photographs, records and stories about the history of the Burnaby Fire Department in the mid 1980's. Finding the first scrapbook of photographs lead to other discoveries that placed the beginning of the Burnaby Fire Dep…
This portion of the interview is about how Al Nixon began collecting and saving photographs, records and stories about the history of the Burnaby Fire Department in the mid 1980's. Finding the first scrapbook of photographs lead to other discoveries that placed the beginning of the Burnaby Fire Department in 1911.
Recording is of an interview with Al Nixon, conducted by Rod Fowler. Al Nixon was one of eleven participants interviewed as part of the SFU/Burnaby Centennial Committee's oral history series titled, "Voices of Burnaby". The interview is mainly about the history and operations of the Burnaby Fire Department from its beginning in 1911 to 1990, and Al Nixon’s stories about the various ways photographs, records and artifacts about the department were collected and saved. The interview takes place while looking at photographs, but the information is clear nonetheless (His photographs have been deposited in the Burnaby Archives). Al Nixon also talks about his father's career as a firefighter, and about his Douglas grandparents and their home “The Gables” [Seven Gables] and neighbourhood in Burquitlam. To view “Narrow By” terms for each track expand this description and see “Notes”.
Al Nixon was born in New Westminster Feb. 8, 1936, the son of Provincial Fire Marshal Basil Nixon (1904-1975) and Agnes Douglas (1909-?). His mother’s family immigrated to Canada from Scotland in 1922 and lived in a large ca. 1900 home in Burquitlam at 9957 Sullivan Road called “Seven Gables” (recently demolished). His grandfather Thomas Douglas, a Coquitlam Councillor and Socialist, was murdered in 1934 in his North Road service station. Al Nixon began his career as a firefighter with the Burnaby Fire Department in 1957, eventually becoming Deputy Fire Chief Operations in 1987 and Fire Chief in 1991, before retiring in 1993. In the mid 1980's Al Nixon became interested in the department’s history after finding a photograph scrapbook at one of the firehalls. It was in very bad condition but he recognized its value and began a project to collect and save photographs, artifacts and stories about the Burnaby Fire Department, a 6 month project that turned into years. The photographs and information gathered by Al Nixon became part of Douglas Penn’s book “Follow that Fire: the history of the Burnaby Fire Department”.
Rod Fowler returned to university as a mature student in the 1980s after working about twenty years in the field of economics and computerization in business in England, Europe and Western Canada. He graduated with a BA from SFU in both History and Sociology in 1987, his MA degree in Geography in 1989, and his PhD in Cultural Geography at SFU. He taught courses in Geography, Sociology, History and Canadian Studies at several Lower Mainland colleges, before becoming a full time member of the Geography Department at Kwantlen University College.
Interviews were digitized in 2015 allowing them to be accessible on Heritage Burnaby. The digitization project was initiated by the Community Heritage Commission with support from City of Burnaby Council.
Track one of interview with Al Nixon
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