Early page by Ogston - Macnaughton, Wesbrook, Davidson1 Ornate Ogston page - Ashton, Harris2
Pages inscribed and illustrated by John Roy Ogston (1, 2, 3)
Whimsical Ogston page - Mathews, Gillies, Morrow3
Alexanders' page (1) - Armstrong, Knutson, Boughton4Armstrongs' page (2) - Buck, Ogawa, Borden5
Pages inscribed and illustrated by Robert and Irene Alexander (4, 5) and their students (6, 7)
Alexander students' page (1) - McElroy, Pillsbury, Clark6Alexander students' page (2) - G.H. Harris, J.A. Harris, Guthrie7

The UBC Faculty Book of Remembrance or "Memorial Book" is currently housed at Rare Books and Special Collections in Main Library.

The book’s display case or "repository" was designed by UBC’s official architects Sharp & Thompson (later Thompson, Berwick, Pratt & Partners), and built by the University’s cabinet-maker. It is made of solid oak, elaborately carved, and topped by the University crest and the motto Tuum est. Behind a glass cover the book rests on a blue and gold cushion. Its pages are turned periodically to "exercise" the binding and prevent it from growing stiff and fragile.

The cover of the Memorial Book is made of inserted panels of leather, with a diamond-shaped piece in the centre surrounded by blue and brown panels with delicate gilt ornamentation and the inscription "Woven into the stuff of other men’s lives", and with the year "1934" inscribed at the bottom. There are also tiny florettes or fleur-de-lis patterns in the centre and outer panels, consisting of separate green and ruby pieces of leather set into the binding. The back cover is identical to the front, except for the inscription "University of British Columbia".

The book’s pages are of the highest quality vellum, and their design is a fine example of the calligrapher’s art. The title page is illuminated in rich colours and an elaborate design around the University’s coat of arms and the title A Book of Remembrance – University of British Columbia – 1915- . Inside are written the names, positions, and dates of death of faculty and emeritus faculty who have died since the University’s inception in 1915.

The original calligrapher and illustrator for the Memorial Book was John Roy Ogston of Vancouver. After 1935 he continued to update the book at regular intervals until 1963.

Note that Ogston’s original illuminations from 1935 were based on UBC’s official colours of blue and gold (1). His later work broke from that convention, utilizing more colours and gradually becoming more ornate (2) and even whimsical (3).

In 1973 the University administration, at the prompting of Professor G.P.V. Akrigg, decided to bring the Memorial Book up-to-date. Robert and Irene Alexander of North Vancouver were hired – Irene inscribed the names of faculty deceased since the early 1960s, while Robert was responsible for the illustrations.

The Alexanders had their own recognizable style (4, 5). Later pages were illustrated mostly by the Alexanders’ students, and so were variable in both quality and style (6, 7).

Of the last few pages, some have names inscribed without illumination, while others are decorated without having any names written on them. This may have been the result of the several students working on the book not properly coordinating their tasks and being unable to finish the pages before the budget ran out in 1974. Alternately, it may have been assumed that more money would be made available in the future – in which case, leaving some pages unfinished would provide some continuity of style if different calligraphers or illustrators were hired.

(Based on interviews with Helen Hahn and Irene Alexander, and sources held in the University Archives)