Category Archives: Holdings

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

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

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

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

Vancouver property tax records to 2005 now available at the Archives

We are pleased to announce that after a significant transfer of records from the Revenue Services Department, the Archives can now make available property tax records up to 2005.

Map of assessment wards in the Municipality of Point Grey, with proposed changes, ~1927. Reference code: AM1594 : MAP 360

Unlike the majority of our previous holdings, these records are microfilm of tax statements (sometimes referred to as the tax roll), rather than assessments. However, the tax statements include the assessment information acquired from the BC Assessment Authority, one of the source data sets for the calculation of property taxes.

We have an almost-complete set of tax statements for the years 1976 to 2005 (1991 has yet to make its way to us), and the records include a variety of indexes that provide entry points to the records, which are organised by Tax account number. Continue reading

Habitat Forum photographs now online

Thanks to funding from the Friends of the Vancouver City Archives and the generous support of a private donor we are pleased to announce that over 6,800 photographs showing the 1976 Habitat Forum are now available online.

Habitat Forum compass rose painted on the Jericho Wharf by Lenore Barron and Frank York. Reference code: AM1671-: CVA 395-05267

Habitat Forum took place at Jericho Beach Park from May 27th to June 11th, 1976. It was a conference/exposition that happened in conjunction with the “official” U.N. Habitat conference. According to the Habitat Forum program, found in the Archives’ United Nations Conference on Human Settlements fonds, “Habitat  Forum is the collective name for the non-governmental activities related to Habitat: the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements.” Entry to the “official” UN Habitat conference was limited to government delegates, selected NGO officials and press. The Habitat Forum provided a space for members of the public to engage with the conference and monitor the U.N. sessions via closed circuit television remotely from the Forum site. Continue reading

Vancouver’s unbuilt leisure palace

While working on rehousing some of our map collection, I recently came across drawings from one of the more interesting unrealised development projects in the city’s past: a winter swimming pool and leisure complex proposed for English Bay in 1920.

Public natatorium and concert hall, English Bay (Sharp and Thompson, in conjunction with A.S. Wootton, 1920). Reference code: VPK-S98: LEG1969.09

For over a century, English Bay beach has been one of Vancouver’s most popular playgrounds. English Bay has always attracted waterfront development, and in the early years, privately-built and operated bathing houses, as well as residences, lined the shoreline. Continue reading

What a gem! The Toni Cavelti fonds

We are pleased to announce that descriptions and accompanying scans for the records of prominent Vancouver-based jeweller Toni Cavelti are now available. The Toni Cavelti fonds contains over 2,400 drawings and design materials, promotional materials, correspondence related to the design of a necklace for Queen Elizabeth, and an unpublished autobiography. We have made a small subset of his drawings and transparencies available on flickr.

A promotional photograph showing a gold necklace.
Reference code: AM1670-S2-F3-: 2016-051.385

Cavelti was born in Illanz, Switzerland in 1931. When he was fifteen he began his apprenticeship with the goldsmith Richard Bolli in St. Gallen, Switzerland. He completed his apprenticeship in 1950. Soon afterward he moved to Geneva and began work at a watch and jewellery atelier in an industrial setting. There he felt unable to fully utilize his skills and expand his craftsmanship. After seeing a painting of the Vancouver Harbour in a display at a hotel, he made the decision to move to Canada. He arrived in Vancouver on June 13, 1954. Continue reading