Did one of your ancestors live in Vancouver? Explore our resources to find information about the members of your family tree.
We have directories from 1882 to the present, located in the Reading Room in books and microfilm. Bound books are available fore most years. Our microfilm is complete to 1929.
Use the directories to determine names, addresses, years of residency, and occupations of Vancouver residents. We also have some BC directories from 1860 to 1948.
What you need to know about directories
- Directories were compiled by private firms for business purposes, so while they are convenient resources and broad in scope, they are not authoritative.
- Examples of demographic omissions: married women, Chinese who spoke no English, and children.
- Married women's names were excluded or represented as follows: not mentioned before 1934, secondary to the husbands' from 1934, and, if working, as a separate entry from 1976 to present.
- Individuals of Chinese or Japanese background who are not represented in the alphabetical sequence might appear in the section "Chinese and Japanese Firms" (before 1923).
- Occasionally there is an addendum to the alphabetical sequence.
Mountain View Cemetery records
We have cemetery records from 1887 to 1965, located in the Reading Room on microfilm.
Use these records to determine name, age, birthplace, burial date, cause of death, and more. For a description of the records and a guide to their access, see the finding aid for series 152 (Health). Registers v 1 is also available as a card index.
- Registers (1887 – 1965): MCR 15 / series 152 (Health)
- Grave space cards (circa 1960): MCR 40 / series 152 (Health)
We have voters' lists from 1886 to 1978, located in the Reading Room on microfiche and in Storage.
Use voters' lists to verify Vancouver residence of men and women who were eligible to vote.
What you need to know about voters' lists
- Names that have been excluded from the voters' lists include:
- Individuals under 21 (1886 – 1970).
- Individuals under 19 (since 1971).
- Individuals of First Nations, Chinese, Japanese, and Indian background (1886 to 1948).
- Since only owners were eligible to vote on financial bylaws, owners and residents have been separated.
- Lists are arranged in sets by year, then by wards or polling district, and then alphabetically by name.
- Exploring voters' lists can be time-consuming.
- Vancouver (1886–1978 (1979 and later restricted)): Reading Room (PDS 2)
- Point Grey (1910, 1913): Storage (PDS 103)
- South Vancouver (1893 – 1899, 1901 – 1916, 1918, 1922 – 1927): Series 220 (S Van)
We have news clippings from 1886 to the present, located in the Reading Room on microfiche.
Use news clippings for information about individuals, families, businesses, and other organizations, industries, issues, and more. There are four sets of microfiche, each with its own alphabetical index.
- JSM News Clippings (1886 – 1970): Card index
- CVA News Clippings (1972 – present): Card index
- Pacific Press I (circa 1930 – 1980): Pacific Press binder
- Pacific Press II (circa 1930 – 1985): Pacific Press binder
We have private records from 1870 to 1990, located in Storage and in the Reading Room on microfiche.
Use private records as primary sources on individuals, families, businesses, and other organizations.
What you need to know about additional manuscripts
- See the Additional Manuscripts card index, which contains personal names, corporate names, and subjects, to identify and Add MSS number.
- Inventories (red binders) describe each fonds in more detail.
The JS Matthews fonds
The JS Matthews fonds (Add MSS 54) includes the following collections:
- Obituary News Clippings
- Add MSS 54, v 7, location: Storage.
- Box 1 (1931 – 1936) and Box 2 (1937 – 1943) can be retrieved from storage.
- Both scrapbooks have name index at front.
- Add Mss 54, v 9 (1932 – 1970), location: Storage.
- For name listing of biographical files, see inventory.
- Topical Files
- Add MSS 54, v 13, location: microfiche.
- Subject files containing compilations of notes, correspondence, pamphlets, and ephemera.
- For listings and microfiche numbers, see inventory.
- Contains files on individuals, families, businesses, and places.
- Contains files on organizations and other subunits within categories, such as Churches, Civic, and more.
We have photographs from 1860 to 1990, located in the Reading Room in the photo binders.
Use private and City records to locate images of people, houses and other buildings, streets, and neighbourhoods. We have two separate sets of photographs, each with its own index.
The JSM Collection
Provides two access possibilities:
- By name of person or other topic in the card index.
- Under Streets in the binders.
The CVA Photographs
Provides two card indexes:
- Name and place index (A – Z).
- Subject index.
- To use the subject index, see the list of available subject headings, for example, "Vancouver - Streets - [Street Name]", or "Vancouver - [local area name, for example, Kitsilano]".
We have books from 1890 to the present, located in Storage.
Use these books to find biographies, biographical data, information about family-related activities, and more.
In the Library subject card catalogue, see personal names, corporate names, and any relevant subjects. Some general suggestions are:
Early Vancouver (FC 3847.49 M37 E2 1932)
A seven-volume account of JS Matthews' conversations with early residents.
Note that name/subject indexes to all volumes are located on the Reference Shelf.
Vancouver Voters, 1886: A Biographical Dictionary (FC 3847.25 C53 1994)
Greater Vancouver Social and Club Register (FC 3847.21 V2 R9 1927)
Early Births: Vancouver and Vicinity (FC 3847.25 V2 M37 E27 1949)
JS Matthews' notes on people born in Vancouver from 1857 – 1889.
Notes on street and park names
We have notes on street and park names from 1930 to 1960, located in the Reading Room and in Storage.
Use JS Matthews' notes on names to find biographical details about those for whom streets and parks were named.
- Notes on Streets and Place Names: Green binders (Reading Room)
- Notes on Parks: Add MSS 54, v 19 box 8