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Vancouver’s Archives marks 80 years of City history

June 5 2013

Items on display at City Hall June 7

Hearty souls from the Royal Life Saving Society preparing to brave the chilly waters of English Bay on a breezy Christmas Day, 1928

The Beatles’ dressing room and limo requirements for their PNE show, a silk sample book from a Chinatown merchant, the City’s first voters’ list, a letter written by Captain George Vancouver in 1794 while stationed in Nootka Sound, an 1898 police blotter as well as historic photos and movies will all be on display at City Hall when the City of Vancouver Archives celebrates its 80th anniversary June 7.

Archives and other City staff will be on hand to explain more than 25 displays and demonstrate the techniques used to preserve and restore old movies.

The displays and movies will take place from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. in the Media Centre, off the main floor rotunda on the ground floor of City Hall. Staff will also give away prints of historic photographs. The 80th anniversary event precedes International Archives Day June 9.

The City of Vancouver Archives, located in Vanier Park, houses the City’s records as well as documents from private-sector businesses, organizations, families and individuals related to Vancouver. Laid end to end, the Archives’ holdings would stretch four kilometers, from City Hall west to Macdonald Street.

Every year Archives’ staff field about 2,700 enquiries, retrieve 11,200 documents, and supervise 2,400 reading room visits. The facility’s database, which is now searchable on Google, received 350,000 hits last year.

The City of Vancouver Archives is the oldest municipal archives in Canada outside Quebec, having been founded on June 8, 1933, with the appointment of Major James Skitt Matthews as the first City Archivist. Its holdings include 1.5 million photographs, 45,000 architectural drawings and maps, 2,600 audiovisual records and over 47 terabytes of digital and digitized records. 

Find out more about the City of Vancouver Archives


Part of expanding upon and improving the City of Vancouver's community facilities includes rehabilitating the City Archive's building envelope, which is a $1.2 million project. Learn more about City Archives and how the City of Vancouver is preserving our history.