Vancouver Feature: The Carnegie Library’s Own Tut

The Carnegie Community Centre is a thriving refuge in the Downtown East Side. It occupies what was once the Carnegie Library — not only the main library for Vancouver, but for years the resting place of the Vancouver Museum’s most popular attraction: Princess Diane, an eternal visitor from Luxor, Egypt. She has proven to be a mummy with a very mysterious past.

Many a Vancouver schoolkid made a field trip to the old Vancouver Museum on the upper floor of the Carnegie Library at Main and Hastings. The primary attraction for ghoulish juveniles was the child-mummy dubbed Princess Diane. Donated by Dr. George Kidd in 1922, the very year that Howard Carter opened King Tut’s famed tomb, the alleged princess inspired all the suitable awe and horror that the mysteries of Egypt were spreading around the world.

It wasn’t for many years that x-ray examination revealed Princess Diane’s secret — she was really a young boy whose name, Panechates, son of Hatres, was written on his chest in Greek script. The x-rays may have disappointed those who were impressed by the royal lineage of the “princess”, but they did reveal a further mystery: the seven or eight year-old had fractures to his skull and both femurs. Was Vancouver’s mummy an ancient murder victim? The answer is lost in the sands of time.