Fonds F-318 - John Rowling fonds

CAMRA scrapbook [copy] Photographs [digital] 1993 Victoria Microbrewery Festival poster 1994 Victoria Microbrewery Festival poster 1995 GCBF poster 1996 GCBF poster 1997 GCBF poster 1998 GCBF poster 1999 GCBF poster 2000 GCBF poster 2001 GCBF poster 2002 GCBF poster 2003 GCBF poster 2004 GCBF poster 2005 GCBF poster 2006 GCBF poster 2007 GCBF poster 2008 GCBF poster 2009 GCBF poster 2010 GCBF poster 2011 GCBF poster 2012 GCBF poster 2013 GCBF poster 2014 GCBF poster 2015 GCBF poster 2016 GCBF poster 2017 GCBF poster 2018 GCBF poster 1993 GCBF photos 1994 GCBF photos
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Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

John Rowling fonds

General material designation

  • Textual records

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Dates of creation area


  • 1975-2022, predominant 1990-2019 (Creation)
    Rowling, John

Physical description area

Physical description

Paper / analog records:
52 cm of textual records
ca. 900 artefacts
ca. 345 photographs
34 posters
22 books

Born-digital records:
1.5 GB of textual records
ca. 3800 photographs (30.5 GB)

Digitized materials:
2 photo scrapbooks (583 MB)

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

John Rowling is past President and co-founder of CAMRA BC (the Campaign for Real Ale Society of British Columbia) and a co-founder and long-time director of Victoria's Great Canadian Beer Festival Society.

Rowling was born in the United Kingdom, in Sidcup, Kent in the suburbs of London on May 11, 1940. He survived the Blitz and a bomb that destroyed all the houses on his street save his family home. Rowling studied at London University, graduating with a B.Sc. in Geology in 1962. He emigrated to Canada later that year to pursue graduate studies at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) in Fredericton. After four years at UNB, Rowling settled in Calgary, working as an exploration geologist for Chevron and other companies for the next 20 years. In 1988, he moved to Victoria to take up a position in the Petroleum Geology Branch of the BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, continuing there until his retirement in 1997.

In 1968 Rowling married Carol Graham, and they had three children and six grandchildren. Carol passed away in 2022.

Rowling has been a beer and pub enthusiast all his life. From Canada he followed the activities of the UK's Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) movement. His brother Rob had joined CAMRA UK in 1974, later becoming President of the Boston, Licolnshire branch. Shortly after his move to Victoria, John learned of the existence of a CAMRA Canada and signed up. On April 7, 1990 at a meeting at Spinnaker's Pub in Victoria, Rowling along with his wife Carol and Phil Cottrell and Dave Preston founded a CAMRA Victoria branch. The group opted for independence from the eastern-based CAMRA Canada and in September 1990 registered CAMRA BC as an incorporated society, with its own constitution, by-laws and finances. Rowling served as the first President from 1990-1992, with a further term in 2000-2003.

Rowling and other CAMRA BC members participated in Victoria's first beer festival in July 1992. The experience inspired them to create an annual festival under CAMRA's auspices. Starting in 1993 as the Victoria Microbrewery Festival, it showcased BC's craft breweries, while also bringing in a smaller number of brewers from other provinces and the USA. In 1995, the event was renamed the Great Canadian Beer Festival (GCBF) and a separate body, the GCBF Society, was spun off from CAMRA to assume ongoing responsibility for planning and organization. Rowling and Gerry Hieter were for many year the main organizers, and Rowling remained a GCBF Director until 2018. In 2019 the GCBF Society disbanded and a new organization, the Victoria Beer Society, took over responsibility for the festival.

Rowling was a frequent contributor to CAMRA BC's newsletter, What's Brewing, launched in June 1990 under the editorship of Phil Atkinson. (CAMRA UK, CAMRA Canada and CAMRA BC all had newsletters by this same name.) With the very first issue of What's Brewing BC, Rowling started the long-running column that would eventually become The Hopbine, "a fresh gathering of news and gossip"). In his column Rowling brought together short news items, announcements, reviews, comments and opinions on happenings in the beer world; he continued to write it until the end of 2003. From about 2004-2015, Rowling regularly wrote about beer and the BC craft beer scene for Victoria's Eat Magazine, and during the same period he was the BC correspondent for the California-based Celebrator Beer Magazine.

In 2002, Matt Phillips of Victoria's Phillips Brewing Company created a special beer to honour Rowling as "a trailblazer and true champion of the craftbrewers' art" – Big Bad John's Traditional English Barley Wine. "Giants fear him / Taste buds applaud him" declared its label. In 2018 Rowling stepped down from the Board of the GCBF Society. The following year, Rowling and Gerry Hieter were presented with Legend Awards at the BC Brewing Awards, in recognition of their contributions to BC's craft beer community.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Fonds consists of records made or received by John Rowling in the course of his activities as a founder, organizer and member of the Campaign for Real Ale Society (CAMRA Victoria / BC) and the Great Canadian Beer Festival Society (GCBF), and as a writer on the BC craft beer scene and a collector of brewery and beer-related artefacts (breweriana).

Fonds includes paper files, born-digital records, and physical artefacts. It includes the organizational files of CAMRA Victoria / BC (series 1) and the GCBF Society (series 2); working files, drafts and articles Rowling wrote for What's Brewing Magazine, Celebrator Beer News, and Eat Magazine (series 3); personal correspondence and subject files relating to brewing and the BC craft beer (series 4); Rowling's personal collection of breweriana - beer bottles, labels, posters, glasses, t-shirts, business cards and other brewery artefacts (series 5); and his library of beer reference works, guidebooks and magazines (series 6).

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

The fonds is a hybrid that includes paper files, analog artefacts and born-digital records. Two photo scrapbooks (binders) have been digitized as pdf files (F-318-1-6-0-1 and F-318-5-2-0-1); the original binders have been dismantled and the photos re-housed in photographic enclosures for long-term preservation. Born-digital records are located in series 1 through 3. File formats include textual documents (doc, docx, pdf, txt), spreadsheets (xls, xlsx) and images (jpg, png, tif). Some access copies have been created in pdf format (see series 2-5 and series 3). Consult the reference archivist for more information about accessing the files in their original formats.

Restrictions on access

Paper files are open for access in the Archives reading room; most digital files are open and available by offline delivery. Some digital materials are directly available online, see series 1-6, CAMRA photographs, 2-5, GCBF photographs, and [3, Beer writings](f-316-3]. Files in series 1-3, CAMRA membership files, contain the personal information of individual CAMRA members; access is restricted, but files are accessible through a research agreement - consult the reference archivist for more information.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Copyright applies to the records in the fonds and copyright ownership is mixed. Rowling retains copyright in works he himself authored, and he agreed to make these available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license (CC BY-NC). The records of two organizations - CAMRA BC (series 1) and the Great Canadian Beer Festival Society (series 2) - are included in the fonds and they likely hold the copyright to many of those materials. The GCBF Society is a defunct organization; Rowling was a director, but it is not clear to whom their copyright now belongs. CAMRA BC continues as an active organization. The fonds also includes copyright-protected works created by third parties, especially in the artefacts (series 5) and books and magazines (series 6) Rowling collected. For these materials, the Archives may make copies available for private study or research purposes under the fair dealing provisions of Canada's Copyright Act. Use for any other purpose may require the permission of the copyright owner. SFU Archives can assist researchers in attempting to identify copyright owners, but it is the user's responsibility to contact owners and secure any required permissions or assume all risks arising from not so doing.

Finding aids

The hard-copy and the pdf versions of the finding aid include two appendices: a fuller list of CAMRA BC officers (Appendix A) and an index by brewery to the artefacts in series 5 (Appendix B).

Uploaded finding aid

Associated materials

Other materials relating to CAMRA BC and the GCBF can be found in the Greg Evans fonds, especially series F-316-7 and F-31-8 respectively.


Further accruals are expected.

Physical description

Photographs are mainly located in series 1-6 (CAMRA) and 2-3 (GCBF), with some personal photos in series 4 (file 3). Artefacts are generally in series 5, Breweriana, but artefacts relating to CAMRA and GCBF have been kept together with the other records relating to these organizations (series 1-7 and series 2-6 respectively).

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Rules or conventions

Canadian Rules for Archival Description (RAD), 2008 edition.



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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

June 2023: fonds first arranged and described.

Language of description

  • English

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