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. Continue reading
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
Archivists, when they hear researchers say that they have “discovered” records in the archives–sometimes described as the “dusty archives” to our chagrin–are likely to respond by saying: “How do you think they got there in the first place!”
The truth is archivists and researchers often work collaboratively in understanding the research value of records. As archivists we seek out and appraise records based on our mandate and on appraisal criteria which include the content of the records and where and how they were created and used, the order and completeness of the records, their condition, as well as aspects relating to their authenticity, reliability and intrinsic value.
Patrick Gunn consulting the water application record books in the Archives Reading Room, April 12, 2012
Researchers, however, bring their unique questions to the archives and the records they consult and, in working with researchers, archivists can learn a lot about the records we have acquired, organized and preserved and even how records relate to and add value to one another. Continue reading