Stuart Thomson was a commercial and civic photographer in Vancouver for 50 years during which time he photographed people, places and events, including sports. Although he had no direct affiliation with a rugby club, sub-union or the BCRU, he photographed teams in action and in portraits from 1911 to 1959. Without this very large body of work, many of which have been digitized and can be seen on-line and in person at the City of Vancouver Archives, there would be a vacuum in the visual history of rugby in Vancouver during this period.
Other well-known photographers, both private and newspaper, also recorded rugby events but the number is miniscule when compared to Thomson's voluminous collection. Thomson snapped the photos of still existing teams like the Vancouver Rowing Club, UBC and Meralomas, as well as some that no longer exist like Crusaders, Firemen, Welsh, North Shore All Blacks, Seaforths, Centrals and Native Sons. A few school teams and former school teams like Ex-Tech, ex-Magee and Ex-King George are also included in the collection.
When the BCRU's representative team played Japan (1930), Queen's University (Belfast) (1953), Oxford/Cambridge Universities (1955), Barbarians (1957), Australia (1958) and British Lions (1959), Thomson was on site to ensure their place in visual history. In addition, Vancouver and Victoria representative teams that played against the touring sides from overseas and from Edmonton, Calgary, California and Eastern Canada between 1911 and 1959 were also photographed. The McKechnie Cup series was the highlight of every season and Thomson was at many of the games with his 8" x 11" Empire State camera. Some of his photos are in the Brockton Pavilion.
Thomson also showed up at Brockton Oval during the World War II years to take photos of the Victoria Army, Vancouver Army and RCAF Station Sea Island service teams. A feature that was unique to many of Thomson's team photos were the names of the players that he inscribed on the negatives with his name sometimes added in the familiar bottom right corner triangle.
When the Rugby Union of Canada, now Rugby Canada, went to Japan in 1932 Thomson was in the touring party. This was the Rugby Union of Canada's first ever official overseas tour and, except for the photos that appeared in the Japanese newspapers, only those taken by Thomson have been kept for posterity.
Thomson's induction into the BCRU Hall of Fame as a Pioneer was long overdue.