Category Archives: Digitization

2013 Association of Moving Image Archivists Conference

In early November, I attended the annual conference of the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) in Richmond, Virginia. Here are a few of the highlights.

Buttons from AudioVisual Preservation Solutions, consultants specializing in AV preservation.

Buttons from AudioVisual Preservation Solutions, consultants specializing in AV preservation.

The Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) is an association for many different types of professionals involved in the preservation and access of moving image heritage. Members come from all over the world to attend the conference.


In partnership with the Digital Library Federation, AMIA held its first Hack Day. Software developers and non-developers (like me!) spent a day solving problems. I was part of the group of non-developers that created a guide to using FFmpeg software which was aimed at archivists who would like to use it but find it too complex. We put the guide on a wiki, expecting it to become more useful as information is added. Our group won one of the jury prizes. Continue reading

The photography of James Crookall

Thanks to funding provided by the Friends of the Vancouver City Archives, we have been able to describe and digitize over one thousand of James Crookall’s images and make them available online.

James Crookall was born November 7, 1887 in Preston, Lancashire, and came to Vancouver as a child. Throughout his life, Crookall was an avid amateur photographer and an enthusiastic outdoorsman. He was an active member of the Vancouver Photographic Society and regularly exhibited his photographs in international salons. He died on July 27, 1960, and his fonds was donated to the Archives by Mrs. Doris Crookall in 1979.


Self portrait, 1938. Reference code AM640-: CVA 260-978.

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The Map and Plan Digitization Project

Thanks to funding from the British Columbia History Digitization Program, we’ve completed a project to digitize 512 maps and plans in our holdings. Here are some highlights from the project. We’ve provided links to descriptions in our database so you can click through to the full-resolution versions of the maps if you’d like to examine them in detail. Here’s the link for the map below.

Bird's Eye view detail

Panoramic view of the City of Vancouver, 1898. Detail from reference code AM1594-: MAP 547


The project makes these maps available to everyone quickly online, and makes them easy to re-use. It reduces damage to the oversized originals due to handling, as they no longer have to be retrieved from storage. Very light-sensitive materials, like blueprints, may be kept in the dark so they don’t fade. Continue reading

“Conversations with Khahtsahlano” is available online

Did you enjoy the recent Khatsahlano Music and Arts Festival and want to know more about the origin of the name? Conversations with Khahtsahlano 1932-1954 is now online at the Internet Archive.

We uploaded it a while ago but there was a glitch that sent it to our film collection. That’s been fixed, and it’s now available in several text formats and in the online reader.

Published in 1955, it contains transcriptions of conversations between Vancouver’s first City Archivist, Major J.S. Matthews, and August Jack Khahtsahlano, a Squamish chief born in 1877 near the site of the Burrard Bridge. Over the course of 22 years Chief Khahtsahlano recounted details of his family and their lives as well as stories about local events. Matthews in turn transcribed the visits and augmented them with maps, drawings and photographs.

Panoramic photographs: the Number 8 Cirkut Outfit

Part of an occasional series on the W.J. Moore panoramic photographs.

We have previously featured W.J. Moore’s panoramic photography and his life.  Here’s a look at the type of panoramic camera and film he used and some of the unusual features of the photographs it produced.

The best-known and most widely used of the rotating-film panoramic cameras was the Cirkut camera. Capable of shooting a 360° view, it was patented in 1904 and sold until the 1940s. It was not easy to use, and so was purchased mainly by commercial photographers. Some photographers shoot with well-maintained Cirkut cameras today.

Cirkut camera with film and accessories. Photographer: Henry Tabbers.

Cirkut Outfit

There were six distinct cameras in the Cirkut family to fit five different sizes of film. Four of the cameras were used exclusively for panoramas; two were built to be used with either panorama film or glass plate negatives. These last two versatile cameras were referred to as Cirkut Outfits. Continue reading

Archives film part of Jubilee Concert

We’re honoured that one of our films was part of yesterday’s Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace.

We had contributed, via Youtube,  a copy of the film to Historypin’s Pinning the Queen’s History collection. An excerpt was selected to be part of the animation that was projected on Buckingham Palace during the concert.

This is the animation. Our excerpt appears at about 1 minute, and it shows the Queen watching an assembly of children creating a dogwood-flower-shaped formation in Queen Elizabeth park.

Yes, the pin representing our video is stuck in the middle of the Prairies. That’s because it represents the Queen’s 1959 visit to Canada, not Vancouver.

The longer video from which the excerpt was taken is below. You can see the children preparing for their formation, and more of the presentation itself. It is Reference code VPK-S652-: MI-111.

You don’t have to be royalty to use one of our videos. We invite you to find and download some and get creative.


Beer in Vancouver

Vancouver Craft Beer Week is here. Let’s take a look at some of the breweries, brands and beer drinkers represented in the Archives.

Early in the city’s history, breweries were established in several locations, usually taking advantage of the numerous creeks running throughout. Some breweries, such as Stanley Park, Red Cross and Royal breweries, were located near Burrard Inlet. [1]

The Columbia Brewery at Cedar Cove, at the north side of Powell Street at Wall Street and Victoria Drive., ca. 1892. Photographer William Stark. Reference code AM54-S4-: Bu P127

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2011 Association of Moving Image Archivists Conference

A few weeks ago, I attended the annual conference of the Association of Moving Image Archivists in Austin, Texas. Here are a few of the highlights.

Austin calls itself the Live Music Capital of the World and there are performance stages everywhere. This is the live stage at the Whole Foods flagship store.

The Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) is a professional association for those involved in all aspects of the preservation and access of moving image heritage, including those from film and digital labs, production studios and archives both large and small. It’s a friendly, active group with members from all over the world. Continue reading

Eight years in the making: Proudly documenting Dunbar

What do weaving and Polar Bears have in common?

Shops on west side of 3200 block of Dunbar Street, 1927. Item #: 2009-005.670

In early 1999, a committee of the Dunbar Residents Association was established to document the history of Dunbar/Southlands and perhaps publish the results of their labour. The first meeting of the Dunbar History Project committee set the standards and ambitions high for the project as a whole. They

  • defined the subject of study and the boundaries of Dunbar,
  • determined Chapter Team Leaders and their respective projects,
  • decided on the tone of the publication, and
  • planned for acquiring funding.

Over the years many dedicated volunteers laboured to ensure the completion of a product they and the Dunbar Residents Association would be proud of. Original research was carried out through interviews with Dunbar residents in local libraries, institutions and archives.

On May 1, 2007 the book launch for The Story of Dunbar: Voices of a Vancouver Neighbourhood was held at the Dunbar Community Centre. The initial print run was for 5000 copies instead of the originally planned 2000; the book was a wonderful success.

A copy of The Story of Dunbar: Voices of a Vancouver Neighbourhood can be found at your local library, read in the Archives reading room (call number FC 3847.52 S865 2006), or purchased from the publisher. Continue reading

Celebrating Yaletown Productions Screening at Vancity Theatre

On Sunday, November 6th, the City of Vancouver Archives successfully hosted its second and final 125th anniversary event of the year: Celebrating Yaletown Productions. Marked by a matinee screening at the Vancity Theatre at the Vancouver International Film Centre, this event highlighted the 40-year filmmaking career of Mike Collier and the development of his film production company, Yaletown Productions. This screening showcased a younger Vancouver, reminding viewers about how much the city has changed in less than a lifetime.

Mike Collier introduces his films to a sold out theatre

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