William Kaye Lamb, librarian, author, archivist (born at New Westminster, BC 11 May 1904; died at Vancouver, 24 Aug 1999). Educated at UBC (BA, 1927, MA, 1930), the Sorbonne and London School of Economics (PhD, 1933), Lamb served as provincial librarian and archivist in BC 1934-1940. He founded and edited British Columbia Historical Quarterly, and managed the development of the provincial Document Disposal Act. He was the university librarian at UBC (1940-48) before being appointed Dominion Archivist by Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King in 1948. He drafted the National Library Act of 1952, and was instrumental in creating the National Library of Canada.
In his posts as the first National Librarian of Canada (1953-67) and the Dominion Archivist (1948-69), he played a decisive role in the development of the Public Archives of Canada (PAC). His aggressive program of documentary acquisition and his improved records management systems vastly enhanced the value of the National Archives as a research institution. In his role in the planning and development of the National Library, from its creation in 1953, he was similarly concerned with making the institution useful and accessible to all Canadians. He oversaw the construction of the National Archives which opened in 1967, and established the first of four records centres. He also separated the Archives Section within the Canadian Historical Association.
Lamb published several books and articles on the Canadian Pacific Railway, the exploration and fur trade of the Pacific Northwest, and shipping on the Pacific Coast. In addition to his professional duties, Lamb established an imposing presence in scholarly publishing, achieving particular excellence with his editions of historical documents, of which George Vancouver, A Voyage of Discovery 1791-1795, 4 vols (1985), is an impressive culmination.
During his career Lamb received several awards including the J.B. Tyrell Historical Medal from the Royal Society of Canada (1965). He was given an Honorary Life Membership from the International Council on Archives, and received honorary degrees from the Universities of British Columbia, Victoria, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Assumption, McMaster, Toronto, York, New Brunswick, and Victoria (Toronto).
In 1949, Lamb was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and was president, 1965-66. He was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1969. The W. Kaye Lamb Prize was established in 1983 and is awarded annually to honour an author from the Archivaria Journal for his or her advancement of archival thinking and techniques in Canada. In 2001, the British Columbia Historical Federation named its scholarships for best student essays on BC history in honour of W. Kaye Lamb.