Norman Rupert Hacking was born on February 12, 1912. His career as a journalist began at an early age when he started collecting scrapbooks filled with images and articles about the maritime industry. Norman grew up in Vancouver and in 1925 attended one year of high school in Melbourne, Australia. He returned to Vancouver and completed his secondary education at Prince of Wales High School in 1928. Norman attended the University of British Columbia where he graduated with a B.A. in History, with First Class Honours in 1934. While attending UBC, Norman was the editor of The Ubyssey in 1934. Norman's graduating thesis was titled "The Early Marine History of British Columbia."
Norman began his career with the Vancouver Daily Province as a Campus Correspondent while in his last year at the University of British Columbia. After graduation, he moved to the newsroom where he began writing columns about Vancouver's marine community. During World War II, Norman took a leave from the newspaper and served with the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve. He was stationed in the North Atlantic from 1941 to 1945 where he served on corvettes and minesweepers. By the end of his service, he had attained the rank of First Lieutenant. After the war, he returned to writing for the Province and became the Marine Editor, a position he held for 30 years from 1947-1977. His column, titled "Ship and Shore" covered all aspects of British Columbia's dynamic and growing marine shipping community. In 1953 Norman began regularly contributing articles to Harbour and Shipping, a local magazine about Vancouver's maritime activities. In 1978, shortly after retiring from the Province, Norman resumed his writing in Harbour and Shipping where he wrote a monthly column (also) titled "Ship and Shore." Norman wrote this column until just weeks before his death on September 18, 1997.
Norman lived an energetic life, travelling around the world and pursuing his love of all things maritime. He travelled to Europe many times and led an active life on the water. He sailed from Gibraltar to the West Indies as a crew member on a small schooner, and in 1966, Norman sailed on a 27-foot engineless ketch from Hawaii to Victoria, British Columbia. Norman was a deeply-respected member of Vancouver's maritime community. He was an active supporter of the Vancouver Maritime Museum and was an influential member on its Collections Committee. Norman was instrumental in the acquisition of numerous pieces, including some of the major and valuable artifacts at the museum.
Norman received public recognition for a number of his endeavours within and for the marine industry in British Columbia. In 1974 he received the Honorary Commodore Award from the Port of Vancouver and in 1979, was awarded the Medal of Merit from the Canadian Port and Harbour Association for his marine writing. Norman was also honoured as a Lifetime Member of the Marine Technology Society.
Norman expanded his love of journalism by writing and publishing a number of books. His thesis, Early Maritime History of British Columbia, was formally published in 1934 and is still used as a standard reference work in the B.C. Archives. Other published books by Norman Hacking include:
An auto-biography written by Norman entitled Hacking Aweigh exists in an unpublished form. During his career, Norman also worked actively as an editor for other marine historians.
The fonds consists of records created by Norman Hacking during his private life and public life as a writer. The majority of the fond are textual records, but there are some photographs that document his childhood, family members and friends, and marine vessels. Included in the fonds are a number of Norman's daily journals and a series of correspondences that record his activities and relationships with family and friends while stationed overseas during World War II. There are theatre pamphlets and other travel ephemera that reflect Norman's travels throughout Europe and there are records relating to research into the Hacking family history. Also included in the fonds are research notebooks, scrapbooks, and ephemera relating to B.C. history and the maritime history of Vancouver, newspaper articles from the Vancouver Daily Province, and unpublished drafts of manuscripts and short stories.
Records removed from the Norman Hacking estate were arbitrarily boxed and brought to the museum where their arrangement and description took place. An initial box inventory was created by Bob Cuthbert, a Vancouver Maritime Museum Volunteer, during July and August in 1998. The fonds has since been arranged by function as there was no sense of the creator’s original order from the initial appraisal of the materials. In cases where the creator’s original order existed clearly within the defined series, all efforts were made to preserve it.
In addition to his papers, a large quantity of periodicals from Norman Hacking’s estate were acquired by the Vancouver Maritime Museum. A box-list inventory was made of all the journals and magazines when they first arrived at the museum. Original magazines and specific issues that the museum did not have were culled from the accession, catalogued, and integrated into the museum’s library holdings. Duplicate journals that were already in the museum’s collection were sold or given away. A number of marine related books were also acquired from the Norman Hacking estate. Original books were kept and integrated into the Vancouver Maritime Museum library holdings while duplicate publications were sold.
A number of photographs were found loose within the fonds. They were labelled as “Norman Hacking Collection” and integrated into the existing VMM photograph collection and include:
Additional loose items related to ship histories was labelled and integrated into the VMM ship reference file collection by corresponding boat name: