Author Archives: Bronwyn Smyth

Merging Time: Past & Present Combined

Merging Time, an exhibit created by the students of Langara College’s Professional Photography program, has returned to the Archives gallery space. It is an exhibit that merges a photograph from the Archives holdings with a newly-shot image of the same scene. This year, there are nineteen of these past-and-present combined images adorning the gallery walls.

Archives photograph selected by Luc Frost for the Merging Time exhibit. Hastings Street looking towards Cambie Street intersection, ca. 1913. Reference code: AM1376-: CVA 220-10

Digital composite by Luc Frost incorporating Archives image AM1376-: CVA 220-10

The creation of the merged images may look effortless and seamless, but don’t be fooled. The first challenge for these students is finding the locations from which the original photographs were shot. Getting a new shot with their dSLR cameras from the same perspective can be tricky, as buildings, construction, or other barriers that didn’t exist in the past may block or obscure today’s views of the original scenes. Even the height of the original photographer can make getting a similar shot a challenge. Continue reading

Vancouver Elections: New Video Wall Show

With the 2018 civic election set for October 20, and advance polls October 10-17, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to search through our holdings to see what election-related material would make an interesting and new video wall show. As the official repository for the City’s records of archival value, our holdings are rich in election-related material. These records give insight into how Vancouver and its electoral system has developed and changed throughout the years. The changes range from who could run for election, and who could vote, to frequency of elections, to the abolishment of the ward system, to what topics ruled the various plebiscites in a particular election year. A sampling of these records–photographs, posters, maps, and other visually interesting textual records–has been captured in the latest addition to our video wall shows: Vancouver Elections.

Council room at City Hall, ca. 1910. Reference code: AM336-S3-2-: CVA 677-82

The invention of photography preceded the incorporation of Vancouver in 1886, which means that there are photographs of the first elected city officials, including the first mayor, and the first City Hall in our holdings. Later photographs capture significant milestones in Vancouver’s political arena. A photograph showing Helena Gutteridge, the first woman elected to City Council, taking her oath of office in 1937 represents one of these milestones. Continue reading

Tea, Talk and Treats: An Exclusive Summer Evening in Vancouver’s Chinese Garden

The City of Vancouver Archives is the repository for the early records of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden Society and on July 5, at 6pm, the Friends of the Vancouver City Archives is hosting an evening entitled “Tea, Talk and Treats: An Exclusive Summer Evening in Vancouver’s Chinese Garden” at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.

Friends of the Vancouver City Archives invitation for the July 5th event

The event will support the Archives’ digitization work and will offer Chinese tea and pastries, a presentation given by Professor Alison Bailey regarding the traditional concepts and artistic and poetic representations of the Chinese garden, and a tour of the Garden led by docents that will highlight the Garden’s architectural and horticultural elements.

The records held by the Archives were donated by the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden Society in 1991, 1992, and 2011. They span from 1981-2009, with the majority from 1981-1991, and consist of approximately 1700 photographs, 22 videocassettes, 139 architectural drawings, 1 technical drawing and 2 maps. Continue reading

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

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

Hugh Pickett Gala

The Friends of the Vancouver City Archives with the support of Famous Artists, is hosting the Hugh Pickett Gala, Monday, October 16, 2017, at the Sylvia Hotel. It will be an evening filled with live music, bubbly and hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction, and illustrated presentations. Funds raised at this event will go towards the processing and digitization of  long-time Vancouver impresario Hugh Pickett’s records. The records were recently donated to the City of Vancouver Archives by Gordon Boyd, Hugh’s life partner.

Hugh Pickett at home. Reference code pending

The Hugh Pickett fonds is vast and colourful, filled with theatre programmes, scrapbooks, event files and photographs emanating from Hugh’s long and rich career in the entertainment industry. The event files include documentation from an array of touring artists and entertainers ranging from pop singers to comedians, circuses to dance companies, classical and opera performers to country artists. Many of the photographs are of early Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) productions, as Hugh was one of the creators of TUTS. Although not directly related to Hugh’s career, there are rare Spitfire Fund scrapbooks included in the fonds from when his mother was involved with the fund in Vancouver.

Some of the Theatre Under the Stars programs. Photo by Heather Gordon

With a successful fundraising effort, we anticipate being able to make the records available to the public in mid to late 2018 and to have a portion of the photographic materials digitized and available online (as rights permit).

A small portion of the 1000+ photos in the fonds. Photo by Heather Gordon

Tickets are $50 per person, purchased via Eventbrite. The gala runs from 7:00 – 9:00 PM, on Monday, October 16 at the Sylvia Hotel (1154 Gilford Street).

Dress code – dress cool, for as Hugh would say, “Tuxedos are for waiters.”

Hugh with material promoting some of his shows. Reference code pending

The 2016 Vancity Theatre Screening is now on YouTube

Last month we had another successful run at Vancity Theatre of some of our newly digitized film and video. For those who are unable to attend, and those of you would like another look, we post all past shows on our YouTube channel, including this year’s Vancouver: Exponential Change. Please note that the online content does not include the pre-screening presentation, commentary, or accompanying music. To read more about this year’s screening, please visit our previous post.

Below is the list of films featured in Vancouver: Exponential Change.

Bastard Love – reel 1 (1928)
excerpts
2015-049.1

Bastard Love – reel 2 (1928)
excerpts
2015-049.2

Bastard Love – reel 3 (1928)
excerpts
2015-049.3

Vancouver Honeymoon (1961)
AM1487-:2013-020.24

P.N.E. Parades 50, 51, 52, 53, and 56 – P.N.E. Ground[s] 60 and 61 (c. 1960, 1961)
AM1601-S1-:2012-010.14-1

Vancouver on the Move (1986)
AM1576-S6-2-: 2011-010.2702

Make Vancouver Sparkle campaign (1986)AM
1576-S6-2-: 2011-010.2699

Vancouver Centennial song (1986)
AM1576-S6-2-: 2011-010.2704

Expo views (1986)AM1553-8-S7-: MI-239

“Expo” day 3 – cam[era] rolls 4-5 (1986)
AM1553-8-S7-: MI-244

“Expo” [camera rolls 1-3] (1986)
AM1553-8-S7-: MI-240