How the city reporters of the 1950s must have loved Major Matthews. Eminently quotable, forthright and provocative in speech . . . his mere presence at any discussion of a contentious nature would be enough to ensure a wealth of good copy, and a strong, catchy headline as well.
So writes Daphne Sleigh in her compelling biography of controversial archivist Major James Skitt Matthews, whose dedication, dogged persistence and guerrilla tactics were instrumental in preserving the history of Vancouver, British Columbia. One of the city's great "characters," Matthews was as noted for his fiery nature as he was for his obsession with collecting artifacts and oral histories. In founding the City of Vancouver Archives, the prickly Major ensured that the history of his beloved "magic city" would be available to future generations.
By the time Matthews took up the heritage cause, he had already lived an adventurous, action-packed life. Sleigh's portrait of the Major covers his unique background and the unusual experiences that shaped the man and set the stage for a remarkable future.