1912 historical layer now available in Vanmap

With funding from the City’s Chief Digital Officer and in collaboration with the City’s GIS and Open Data teams, there is now a Vanmap layer made from a mosaic of plates from Goad’s 1912 Fire Insurance Plan. You can find it in Vanmap’s Aerial Imagery category. The data has also been released as part of the City’s Open Data Catalogue. Cropping and georectification of the scanned images was done by McElhanney.

The Vanmap layer, zoomed to downtown.

The Vanmap layer, zoomed to downtown.

What is Goad’s Fire Insurance Map?

Continue reading

Save the date: #HeritageReboot May 23

The City of Vancouver, Vancouver Heritage Foundation, City of Vancouver Archives and Heritage Vancouver will host #HeritageReboot, a fun, hands-on free public event that combines modern technology with heritage conservation.

When: Saturday, May 23, 2015 from 1pm to 4:30pm

Where: Roundhouse Community Centre, Engine 374 Pavilion, 181 Roundhouse Mews (Corner of Davie and Pacific)five-logos-1

#HeritageReboot schedule:
1 pm – Event launch followed by cake-cutting
1 pm – 4:30 pm – City of Vancouver Heritage Action Plan Open House
1:30 – 4:30 pm – Public welcome to experience and use the technology
2:45 pm – 4:15pm – Tours of Yaletown and Engine 374

The event will officially launch four initiatives that use digital technology to open up Vancouver’s heritage in new ways for everyone:

  • The City of Vancouver’s new online platform for public nominations to Vancouver’s Heritage Register
  • Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s Heritage Site Finder, an interactive map showing over 2,200 sites listed on the Heritage Register. The tool is searchable, filterable and full of images and information about the sites
  • The City of Vancouver Archives’ digital rendering of the important Goad’s 1912 Fire Insurance Plan.  Newly added as a layer on VanMap, construction materials, building footprint, street names and addresses of the time are now easily discoverable.
  • Heritage Vancouver’s Historic Building Permits Database, a searchable online database of over 32,000 transcribed pre-1929 Vancouver building permits

Everyone is encouraged to unearth the past with these newly created digital tools and use the information to nominate a site to the Vancouver Heritage Register using the new online platform.

The City of Vancouver will also be having its open house on the next phase of the Heritage Action Plan there throughout the afternoon.

Free tours will also be available in the afternoon, including:

  • The Canadian Pacific Railway’s Two Yaletowns 1886-1887 and 1910-1914.  Led by historian and author of the award winning book Vancouver: A Visual HistoryBruce MacDonald.
  • City Building: Yaletown and its Neighbours in the Nineties.  Led by former City Councillor and the current Director of The City Program at Simon Fraser University Gordon Price.
  • A historic tour of Yaletown in French.  Led by the President of the Société historique francophone de la Colombie-Britannique Maurice Guibord.
  • Tours of the Engine 374 Pavilion and the engine to mark the 128th anniversary of Engine 374 pulling the first transcontinental train into Vancouver.  Led by The West Coast Railway Association.

We’ll have a detailed post about our initiative on May 21 to coincide with its public release. We hope to see you at the event on May 23.

Historical zoning maps available

We’ve made a group of zoning maps available online. These are frequently consulted by our researchers, so we’ve made them easily available to everyone.

March 1990 zoning map. Reference code PUB-: PD 2100.6.

March 1990 zoning map. Reference code PUB-: PD 2100.6.

The maps were published:

Created by the City of Vancouver Planning Department, the maps allow you to see the permitted uses of land over time. These maps are used as a first step for an environmental assessment of a site. They are also useful for those studying the history of urban planning.

Detail from March 1990 zoning map. Reference code PUB-: PD 2100.6.

Detail from March 1990 zoning map. Reference code PUB-: PD 2100.6.

Two of the maps include text explaining the zoning and its intended use.

Detail from verso of January 1998 map. Reference code PUB-: PD 2100.8-PD 2100.8.2.

Detail from verso of January 1998 map. Reference code PUB-: PD 2100.8-PD 2100.8.2.

Please let us know if you find these maps useful.

Third wave of BC Sugar records now available

We are pleased to announce the public release of the third batch of records from the British Columbia Sugar Refining Company fonds (BC Sugar), donated to the Archives in 2011 by Lantic Inc.

The records of BC Sugar document the activities of Vancouver’s first large-scale industrial operation that was not a sawmill or related to the railways. The company continues to operate its historic refinery on Vancouver’s waterfront to this day.

This third release focuses on the holdings of the BC Sugar Museum, founded as a unit at BC Sugar in the mid-1970s. This release predominantly consists of photographs that document the full range of activities at BC Sugar and its Canadian subsidiaries, the life of the Rogers family, and other sugar refineries in Canada, including:

  • photographs documenting construction and renovations at the refineries in Vancouver; Raymond, Taber, and Picture Butte, Alberta and Fort Garry, Manitoba; and photographs of staff and operations in the refineries;
  • photographs acquired from and about the Rogers family;
  • material displayed by the BC Sugar Museum at their purpose-built display rooms at the Vancouver refinery; and
  • small additions to a number of non-photographic records series.

We hope to make most of the photographs available online later this year; for now they are available only in their original format in the Archives’ reading room.

Finds in this third release of records include photographs from the Rogers family, many of them documenting the family’s active social life. These photographs, acquired by the BC Sugar Museum, complement the many photographs in the Rogers family fonds (AM1368).

B.T. [Benjamin Tingley] Rogers and Margaret swimming; Reference code: AM1592-1-S2-F08 : 2011-092.3807.

B.T. [Benjamin Tingley] Rogers and Margaret swimming; Reference code: AM1592-1-S2-F08 : 2011-092.3807.

In the 1940s, BC Sugar embarked on a twenty-year reconstruction program, replacing or expanding many of the original structures at the refinery. These projects are well documented in this release, which includes a large body of progress photographs.

Construction of new office building: framing second floor; Reference code AM1592-1-S2-F06: 2011-092.1976.

Construction of new office building: framing second floor; Reference code AM1592-1-S2-F06: 2011-092.1976.

A variety of photographs which document the staff of the Vancouver and other refineries, both at work and at play, are included in this release. This release includes a number of photographs of staff picnics and other social events, as well as staff at work in the refinery.

Women workers in cube department; Reference code: AM1592-1-S2-F01 : 2011-092.0467.

Women workers in cube department; Reference code: AM1592-1-S2-F01 : 2011-092.0467.

Additions to the fonds will be released over time as the records are processed. These later additions will include the company’s extensive collection of sugar-related publications and periodicals, more architectural drawings of the various refineries and small additions to various records and photograph series. Stay tuned for further information!

The City of Vancouver Archives would like to thank Lantic Inc. for its financial support for the archival processing of the BC Sugar fonds, which has made it possible for the Archives to make these records available to the public at this time.

Lantic corporate logo



Map of New Westminster District – a collaboration

We have a very large and rare 1905 map in our holdings that was dirty and falling apart. Last year, we collaborated with the Land Title & Survey Authority of British Columbia (LTSA) and the BC Archives to conserve and digitize it. This is the story of why that conservation treatment happened and how it was done.

Image of the entire conserved map

Low-resolution version of Map of New Westminster District, 1905. Reference code AM1594-: MAP 138. A high-resolution version is available from our online search.

The 1905 Map of New Westminster District is almost 1 metre wide and over 2 metres long. It shows District Lots and other divisions of land for all of Metro Vancouver and as far east as Hope. Continue reading

Moving Historical Geodata to the Web

In nearly every case, “historical geodata” means a paper map. Digitizing that map gives us an image of a paper map. While an image can be useful, historical maps turned into actionable data are much more useful. Moving geodata from paper to electronic data can be complicated and involve many actions, including:

  • Describe the map accurately, preferably using standard terms
  • Digitize the map
  • Georectify the digitized image (associate points in the image with their geocoordinates, for example, so that the image can be positioned on OpenStreetmap or Google Maps exactly where it belongs)
  • Extract image features—such as polygons, text, or contour lines—as digital layers
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, flagship building of the New York Public Library. Photographer Sue Bigelow.

Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, flagship building of the New York Public Library. Photographer Sue Bigelow.

From November 5-7, 2014, I attended a meeting of 54 people from three continents at the New York Public Library called Moving Historical Geodata to the Web. This meeting, including expenses for attendees, was funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. We were the only archives and the only Canadian institution represented. Continue reading

New in the public domain 2015

On January 1st, the copyright expired for some of our holdings: they are now in the public domain in Canada. Digital materials are no longer restricted to being viewed only at the Archives, but are available online to all. Here’s a quick look at some of the digital objects that have become easier to view and re-use.


Tattooed man pulling on rope, by Clixby Watson, 1950s. Reference code AM1562-: 72-633

Charles “Clixby” Watson was a British painter and illustrator. We don’t know if this was a work of imagination or modelled from life or why this was created. Continue reading

Pacific National Exhibition photographs are now online

Thanks to funding from the British Columbia History Digitization Program, we’ve recently completed a project to digitize over eight thousand images from the Pacific National Exhibition fonds that you can easily view and re-use. In addition, we’ve digitized another 874 images that are under copyright to other parties, but which can be viewed at the Archives. The dates range from 1914 to 1980.

2 people sharing a hot dog

Man and woman eating foot-long hotdogs from P.N.E. Gayway concession stand, 1953. Photographer unknown. Reference code AM281-S8-: CVA 180-2219.

These photographs were either created for the P.N.E. or collected by the P.N.E. staff. They document a wide variety of activities at the fair, including rides, displays, competitions and performances.

Colour photo of chair lift over grounds

Women on Sky Glider chair lift, 1971. Photographer Bob Tipple. Reference code AM281-S8-: CVA 180-6891.

Many buildings on the site are shown, including: Continue reading

November 2014 Vancity Theatre show now on YouTube

As we have before, we’ve put the video portion of last year’s Vancity screening on our YouTube channel. This does not include projected snipes, pre-screening presentations, Michael Kluckner’s commentary or Wayne Stewart’s keyboard accompaniment.

Here are the three sections of the show, and the films featured:

Vancouver at Work

First Narrows Bridge Construction (1938), excerpts
AM1487-: 2012-091.01

Jersey Farms milk delivery (c. 1940), excerpts
AM1275-S1-: MI-10

Use of milk products (c. 1940), excerpts
AM1275-S1-: MI-12

Reservoirs in the Sky (c. 1956), excerpts
AM1466-: MI-21

One Lump or Two (c. 1961), excerpts
AM1592-1-S3: 2011-092.0535

On the spot zoo story (1953), excerpts
VPK-S652-: MI-113

The Morning Show (1963), excerpts
VPK-S652-: MI-114

Stratford Hotel Fire (c. 1968), excerpts
COV-S667-: MI-176


Shriners parade (1951)
AM1443-: MI-15

Grey Cup parade (1955)
AM1443-: MI-18

Start of PNE Parade (1958), excerpt
AM1487-: MI-219

A City Celebrates (1961), excerpts
AM1487-: 2013-020.09

Vancouver Promoted

Vancouver Marches On (1936-39), excerpts
AM1487-: 2013-020.02 to 2013-020.05

Most Lovely Country – British Columbia (1958)
AM1487-: 2013-020.06

We hope to see you at our 2015 show!

Happy Holidays

The Archives will be closed from noon December 24 to 9am Monday, January 5.

Card from Charles Marega fonds, AM1416.

Card from Charles Marega fonds, AM1416.

This Christmas card was created by the sculptor Charles Marega, who created many sculptures and memorials in Vancouver including the lions at the Lions Gate Bridge. The card is part of a file called “sketches and drawings” in the Charles Marega fonds.