On the hunt for 2116 Maple Street: A house history expedition – Part 3: City Directories

The final part of hunting for information about 2116 Maple Street, after looking at fire insurance maps, water records, building permit registers, and photographs, involves looking up the names of the residents in the city directories.

The Archives’ city directories available in the Reading Room. Photo by Bronwyn Smyth

The city directories are one of our most well-used resources, as many researchers look for the history of a building’s occupants, or where a relative lived over time. It is time consuming to go through the publications year-by-year and trace the occupants of a house, but, I would argue it is time well spent. Often an underlying narrative emerges about the residents, about the house, and about the neighbourhood. Continue reading

Food and Drink: New Video Wall Show

Over the past several years, five video wall shows centering on various themes have been created at the Archives. Titles include Vancouver Vignettes, Games in the City, Edifice, Forces Shaping a City, and Parks. The video wall shows highlight the diverse nature of our photograph, video, and textual holdings.

One of the photographs included in the video wall show. Fishing on Greer’s (now Kitsilano) Beach, 1890s. Reference code: AM54-S4-: Be P142

It has been a few years since the last video wall show, Parks, was created, so we felt it was time to add another one to our rotating shows. We are happy to announce the latest show: Food and Drink: Growing, making, buying and consuming.

The inspiration for this latest installation was two-fold. As an undergraduate, I studied horticulture and agriculture, and therefore the production and consumption of food and beverages are never far from my mind. Secondly, in my daily work at the Archives, I constantly come across a wealth of materials relating to the production and consumption of food and beverages in and around Vancouver throughout the last 150 or so years. Continue reading

On the hunt for 2116 Maple Street–A house history expedition – Part 2: Photographs

The second phase of hunting for information on 2116 Maple Street, after locating it on fire insurance maps, getting the water service records, and getting the building permit register information, involves delving into the Archives’ photographic holdings.

Houses in Kitsilano. Reference code: AM1535-: CVA 99-1347

The ideal for every house history researcher is to find an old photograph of his or her house in the Archives’ holdings. I hate to burst their bubble, but this often doesn’t happen. However, it is feasible to find photographs of the neighbourhood, which often give a sense of what the area was like throughout the years.

A concerted effort has been made to scan and describe much of our street and neighbourhood photographs. These digitized images can be found from the comfort of your home through our online database. Knowing how to search for these photographs, however, does take a bit of creative thinking and practice. Simply typing in an address or street name into the search bar won’t bring up the masses of results one might have been expecting or in most cases, any results. This is where I recommend a pause from the computer, grabbing some scrap paper and a pencil and brainstorming different search terms. Continue reading

Winter Wander in Vanier Park – 2018

This past Saturday, February 3, the sky was its typical overcast winter self, perfect for the seventh annual edition of Winter Wander in Vanier Park.

Winter Wander, a fun family event, is a chance for people to explore the institutions that call Vanier Park home, including Museum of Vancouver, Vancouver Maritime Museum, HR MacMillan Space Centre, City of Vancouver Archives, Vancouver Academy of Music, and Bard on the Beach. Continue reading

Houses and Schools and Churches – Oh My! Newly digitized Heritage Inventory photographs now available

Thanks to funding from the British Columbia History Digitization Program we are pleased to announce the addition of over 6,900 newly-digitized photographs to our online database (with a subset on flickr). The photographs are the result of two City of Vancouver heritage inventory projects, one that took place in 1978 and the other from 1985-86.

Pedestrians outside of Melonari’s Ladies Shoes shop at 1301 Commercial Drive. Reference code: COV-S639-1-F10-: CVA 790-0272

In the past, these images have been difficult to access. They are acetate negatives and are stored in the Archives’ frozen storage vault. They also did not have item level descriptions in the database. It will now be much easier for researchers to find and use these photographs which provide valuable insight into Vancouver’s heritage houses, buildings, public structures and parks. Although the structures were the main focus of the photographs, they also show vehicles, pedestrians, streets, storefronts, signage and various other aspects of life in Vancouver. Continue reading

New in the public domain 2018

On January 1st, the copyright expired for some of our holdings: these are now in the public domain in Canada. These digital materials may now be legally re-used for any purpose. Here’s a quick look at some of the images, maps, and moving images that have become easier to re-use.

Trading Post, a 1967 production from CHAN-CHEK TV, came to us when we acquired the Playhouse Theatre records. It was thought to be related to the Playhouse Theatre, but when the 2” videotape was digitized, it was discovered to be a program that allowed people to phone the host with items for barter or sale. Reference code AM1487-: LEG188.7.

Continue reading

Happy Holidays

The Archives will be closed from noon December 22 to 9am Wednesday, January 2, 2018.

Front of card

This greeting card “wishing health, joy and wealth be unto you” is from the Lorne Brown fonds. Just who the “broadcaster” was is uncertain, but the delightful colours and message ring true this time of year.

The matching textured envelope with block printing inside the flap is a wonderful added touch to this charming circa 1930 card.

With contributions by Bronwyn Smyth.

Legacy Open Data Sets Now Available

We’re very pleased to announce that legacy versions of the City’s open data sets are now available through our online database.

The City of Vancouver’s Open Data Catalogue has its roots in the “Open3” motion (Open Data, Open Standards and Open Source) passed by Vancouver City Council in 2009, which declared the City’s endorsement of the principles of open and accessible data, including the free sharing of data with citizens, businesses and other jurisdictions without compromising privacy and security. Part of the City’s response to the motion was the launch of the Open Data website in September 2009. In 2011, the City of Vancouver was recognized by BC Business as the Most Innovative Organization in BC for the open data initiative.

The City’s Open Data Catalogue at vancouver.ca/opendata, accessed 2017-11-24

British Columbia’s strong and growing open data community uses raw City data, alone or in combination with data from other sources, to identify, analyze, and present solutions to challenges facing citizens of Vancouver and BC. The data sets on the Open Data Catalogue are updated on an ongoing basis (the refresh rate varies across sets). Recognizing that retaining historical data would enable the community to identify trends and changes across time, resulting in richer analysis of civic issues, the Archives began to grab snapshots of the datasets – first semiannually, then quarterly – in order to preserve the overwritten data sets and make them available to the public. Continue reading

On the house history hunt for 2116 Maple Street – Part 1: Fire Insurance Maps, Water Service Records and Building Permit Registers

House history research is one of the most common reasons people find their way to the Archives. As such, we thought it would be helpful to write a series of blog posts on the type of resources we have to help in the quest. To illustrate the process, I have chosen a house located at 2116 Maple Street to research. This post will introduce the fire insurance maps, water service records, and building permit registers in the Archives’ holdings.

I begin my search by starting with the fire insurance maps.

Bound volume of Goad’s 1912 Fire Insurance Atlas

Fire Insurance Maps

Fire insurance maps or atlases were created as a way to quickly appraise the risk and distribution that architectural and environmental factors posed should a fire break out. The first Vancouver fire insurance atlas was produced by the Charles E. Goad Company in 1912. Charles Goad also created the system of partial revisions, allowing for multiple corrections slips to be printed on one page, cut out, sent out to the underwriters, and finally pasted over the area of the map requiring updating. This decreased the need for printing completely new editions each year, thus making updating the maps economical. Consequently, the later fire insurance atlases (Map 599 and Map 610) include a date range, rather than one specific year. By 1975, due to company amalgamations and the changing needs of the insurance industry, fire insurance maps ceased to be produced.[1] Continue reading

SAA 2017 Annual Meeting – Alike/Different

Last July, I was among the many archivists who, seduced by legends of the land of milk and honey food trucks and microbreweries, braved the Oregon Trail to attend the 2017 Society of American Archivists conference in Portland OR.

The Oregon Trail – video game version

The first half of the week was taken up by a two day workshop on arrangement and description of digital archives, led by Carol Kussman (University of Minnesota Libraries) and Chris Prom (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign). This was an excellent opportunity to assess our current practices at the Archives, to measure the maturity of our own digital preservation program against other institutions of different scales and to get an idea of how we rate relative to other programs. The workshop was very popular – SAA ultimately expanded the number of seats available due to the demand. Continue reading