Tag Archives: photographs

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.

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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

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

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

Houses and Schools and Churches – Oh My! Newly digitized Heritage Inventory photographs now available

Thanks to funding from the British Columbia History Digitization Program we are pleased to announce the addition of over 6,900 newly-digitized photographs to our online database (with a subset on flickr). The photographs are the result of two City of Vancouver heritage inventory projects, one that took place in 1978 and the other from 1985-86.

Pedestrians outside of Melonari’s Ladies Shoes shop at 1301 Commercial Drive. Reference code: COV-S639-1-F10-: CVA 790-0272

In the past, these images have been difficult to access. They are acetate negatives and are stored in the Archives’ frozen storage vault. They also did not have item level descriptions in the database. It will now be much easier for researchers to find and use these photographs which provide valuable insight into Vancouver’s heritage houses, buildings, public structures and parks. Although the structures were the main focus of the photographs, they also show vehicles, pedestrians, streets, storefronts, signage and various other aspects of life in Vancouver. Continue reading

New in the public domain 2018

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, maps, and moving images that have become easier to re-use.

Trading Post, a 1967 production from CHAN-CHEK TV, came to us when we acquired the Playhouse Theatre records. It was thought to be related to the Playhouse Theatre, but when the 2” videotape was digitized, it was discovered to be a program that allowed people to phone the host with items for barter or sale. Reference code AM1487-: LEG188.7.

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Habitat Forum photographs now online

Thanks to funding from the Friends of the Vancouver City Archives and the generous support of a private donor we are pleased to announce that over 6,800 photographs showing the 1976 Habitat Forum are now available online.

Habitat Forum compass rose painted on the Jericho Wharf by Lenore Barron and Frank York. Reference code: AM1671-: CVA 395-05267

Habitat Forum took place at Jericho Beach Park from May 27th to June 11th, 1976. It was a conference/exposition that happened in conjunction with the “official” U.N. Habitat conference. According to the Habitat Forum program, found in the Archives’ United Nations Conference on Human Settlements fonds, “Habitat  Forum is the collective name for the non-governmental activities related to Habitat: the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements.” Entry to the “official” UN Habitat conference was limited to government delegates, selected NGO officials and press. The Habitat Forum provided a space for members of the public to engage with the conference and monitor the U.N. sessions via closed circuit television remotely from the Forum site. Continue reading

Architectural photographs: the Art Grice fonds

We have recently made descriptions and high-resolution scans available for the photographs in the Art Grice fonds. We have also made a selection of the images available on flickr. These are high-quality images created by a professional photographer and they document views and details of some buildings in Vancouver. All of the images in the fonds are signed prints and we have included the signatures.

Houses row near Hawks Avenue East Pender Street, looking south, 1972. Reference code AM1536-: CVA 70-77.

Arthur (Art) Grice was based in North Vancouver at the time he took these photographs. These images were created in 1972 and 1973, so some of the buildings no longer exist. The row of houses shown above is one example. Continue reading