Category Archives: Holdings

Property tax assessment maps now available

With a nod to international Records and Information Management Month, we’re pleased to announce an addition to the always-popular tax assessment records: the Assessment Division’s Property tax assessment map series is now available to researchers.

The maps appear to have been used to document information that was used by Assessment Division staff to calculate assessed property value for tax purposes. The maps consist of copies of sectional plans created by the City’s Engineering Department, which have been pasted onto board backing for strength.

The condition of the maps indicates they were heavily used by staff, and the maps contain multiple years’ worth of data.

Assessment map no. 117 – Alexandra Street to Matthews Avenue to Arbutus Street to 29th Avenue. Reference code: COV-S711: LEG2282.192. Photo: Sharon Walz

The maps are heavily annotated with property-by-property information, including:

Lot square footage information: Continue reading

More 2010 Olympic Torch Relay Photographs Available

We have added another 4,830 torch-relay images to the VANOC records already available on our AtoM site. These images belong to series AM1550-S08: Olympic Torch Relay – highlight photographs. The images were selected by VANOC from hundreds (sometimes thousands) of images captured each day from the photographers assigned to cover the relay. The selected images were sent to the torch relay sponsors: Coca-Cola, Royal Bank of Canada, and Government of Canada for the respective sponsors to use for their own purposes.

Lighting Ceremony in Olympia. Check out the highly flammable cellulose nitrate film being used for firelighter in the torch. Reference code (file): AM1550-S08-3-F000-:

The images in the newly released series show more diverse scenes than the torchbearer series published by the Archives last fall (AM1550-S07). While VANOC’s intent for the previous series was to document each person that participated in the relay as a torchbearer, the newly released series features images showing the torch lighting ceremony in Olympia, Greece, crowds gathered to watch the relay, special events held during the day, shots of landmarks along the route, and other scenes that capture the spirit of the relay. Continue reading

Don Coltman photographs now available

This is the second and final post on the 2018 Steffens-Colmer Studios and Don Coltman Company Photographs Digitization Project, funded by the British Columbia History Digitization Program.

With thanks to funding from the British Columbia History Digitization Program we are pleased to announce that we have recently completed a project to digitize 5,300 photographs by commercial photographer Don Coltman.  The photographs are all in the public domain and have been uploaded to the Archives online database with accompanying descriptions and are available to be downloaded, re-printed and used! They join the ~5,000 Coltman photographs previously digitized.

Scenes at Kitsilano Beach and Yacht Club (1945). Reference code: AM1545-S3-: CVA 586-6176

Don Coltman was born Alfred Donald Coltman in 1898 in Lutterworth, Leicestershire, England. He arrived in Canada in 1904 with his mother Ada, father Alfred Birbek and brother Rex. The family lived and worked around Lethbridge, Alberta. Coltman briefly worked for Canadian Pacific Railway in Lethbridge until 1916 when he joined the Canadian Battalion and was sent to France. During the war, he was buried alive, and then dug out and returned to England with a badly crushed foot. He refused to allow the doctors to amputate his leg; he was left with some damage but maintained the use of his leg for the rest of his life. Continue reading

New in the Public Domain 2019

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 and maps that have become easier to re-use. There are many more!

Ross Lort was a Vancouver architect who began his career with the firm of Maclure and Fox, and spend the latter part of his career as the principal of the firm Ross A. Lort Architect. He was also an accomplished artist and we have a few of his works digitized.

“False Creek”, by Ross Lort, 1933. Linocut showing sawmills on False Creek. Reference code AM1562-: 2010-084

Hugh Pickett was a legendary local impresario. We have recently made his records available and will be digitizing some of the photographs in that fonds. Here is a photograph of Hugh with American actor-singer-dancer Mitzi Gaynor. Continue reading

Happy Holidays!

The Archives will be closed for the holidays from 5pm on Friday, December 21, 2018, and reopen at 9am on Wednesday, January 2, 2019.

A delightful Season’s Greetings card depicting a woman in a poinsettia dress holding a wreath with a man in a black top coat. Reference code: AM968–

This year’s season’s greetings card comes from the Lorne Brown fonds. Lorne Ellis Brown (1908-1976) was a teacher in the Vancouver public school system when this card was sent to him in 1930 or 1931. Later in his career, he became the Provincial Superintendent of Physical Education in the Department of Education (1944-1946), the Director of Health and Physical Education at the Provincial Normal School (1946-1955), and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia (1955-1973), and Vancouver Park Board Commissioner (1967-1968). Continue reading

New Video Wall: Goods & Services–Businesses in Vancouver

Our latest video wall showcases the types of businesses that have operated in the city over time. Goods & Services: Businesses in Vancouver introduces the viewer, through the lenses of work, school, home, and play, to a host of different commercial enterprises that have called Vancouver home over the last 150 years.

Saw mills were one of the first types of businesses to operate in the City of Vancouver. Ships loading lumber at Hastings Saw Mill, ~1896. Reference code: AM54-S4-: Mi P26

Continue reading

The Archives’ Pre-move project: an inside look through the conservation lens

The James Skitt Matthews building has been home to the Archives since 1972 and after more than four decades of service, the Vanier Park site has reached its full capacity. In response, the Archives plans to move to a larger space where we can continue to serve the public for many more years to come.

Prior to the move, many of the records in our holdings will require conservation before they can safely travel. Following best archival conservation practice, different types of records of varying media and size can be housed in standardized storage containers that are readily available from conservation supplies vendors. However, as widely diverse as these off-the-shelf containers are, there are still a large percentage of our holdings that does not fit into this system, specifically the oversized heavy bound volumes. The construction and size of most standardized containers are not large enough for these oversized volumes, or strong enough to bear their weight. A large part of the conservation effort in the Pre-move project will be focused on providing appropriate storage containers that can withstand the rigors of the move and also double as long-term housing for the item after the move.

Before (left) and after (right) rehousing: Oversized bound volumes of Police Court calendars and City Council minutes that were previously stored on open shelving are now rehoused in custom archival containers. Photographer: Dorcas Tong. Series identifiers: VPD-S182 and COV-S31.

Continue reading

Digitizing deteriorating negatives safely

This is the first in a series of posts on the 2018 Steffens-Colmer Studios and Don Coltman Company Photographs Digitization Project, funded by the British Columbia History Digitization Program.

We are working on a project to digitize thousands of negatives created by commercial photographer Don Coltman. His photographs are all public domain copyright, cover a wide variety of subjects, and will be freely available for use once the project is finished. These negatives are made of rapidly deteriorating cellulose acetate, which is a health hazard. They are stored frozen to keep them from deteriorating further. We had to develop a way to digitize the negatives that would be

  • safe for our staff (reduce their exposure to a hazard) and
  • safe for the negatives (reduce their time out of freezer storage)

Eric Vale. July 1949. Photographer Don Coltman. Detail from Item Identifier : CVA 586-8194.

Continue reading

Hugh Pickett fonds now available!

Thanks to the generous attendees of the Hugh Pickett Gala in 2017 and the Friends of the Vancouver City Archives, we are pleased to announce that the descriptions for the Hugh Pickett fonds are now available and searchable online.

Hugh Pickett was born and raised in Vancouver. His first job was as an usher at the Colonial Theatre in 1928 – he always had a love for show business. He later worked for Dingwall Cotts Steamship Co. and served in the Canadian Army as the secretary to Brigadier Langdon out of an office in the old Vancouver Hotel.

Portrait of Hugh Pickett in 1943 (from scrapbook). Reference code: AM1674-S8-F09

In 1950 Pickett, along with Holly Maxwell, took over Hilker Attractions and re-named it Famous Artists Ltd. Pickett was Company Manager from 1947 until 1964. Famous Artists Ltd. was “an artistic management enterprise dedicated to sponsoring appearances by artists and by ballet and theatre companies in Vancouver and Victoria.” Known as Vancouver’s impresario it is no surprise that Pickett’s records are peppered with names and photographs of local, national and international celebrities and artists. Continue reading

2010 Olympic Torch Relay Photographs Now Available

The Archives is pleased to announce that over twelve thousand photographs from the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay (OTR) – showing virtually every torchbearer that participated in the relay – have been processed and are now accessible through our online database. These photographs are part of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) fonds, donated in 2010, and may be used for any fair dealing purpose.

The Olympic Torch Relay Route

The OTR took place from October 30, 2009 to February 12, 2010. Beginning in Victoria BC, it covered more than 45,000 km across all thirteen provinces and territories before returning to Vancouver 106 days later. Over 12,000 people carried the torch across Canada. Continue reading