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 1996, located in the Reading Room in books and microfilm. Bound books are available for 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. See our reference guide on city directories.
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 (1887 – 1965): Series 152
We have voters' lists from 1886 to 1992, 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.
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
The Archives holds private-sector records dating from 1870 to the present day. These records, identified by “AM” (or formerly Add. MSS, for “Additional Manuscripts”) are records obtained by the Archives through private donation, and include records of individuals, families, businesses and organizations. Search record descriptions through our online database, or take a look at hard-copy finding aids available in our Reading Room.
The Major Matthews collection
The JS Matthews collection (AM 54) includes the following series:
- Topical and Categorical files: Series 23
- Subject files containing compilations of notes, correspondence, pamphlets, and ephemera
- Includes files on places, individuals, families, organizations, and files organized under categorical units such as Churches, Civic, and Clubs
- Obituary News Clippings: Series 18
- Mayors: Series 14
- Street and Place Names: Series 22
We have photographs from 1860 to present day.
Use both private-sector and City records to locate images of people, houses and other buildings, streets, and neighbourhoods. Many of our images have also been digitized and can be viewed and downloaded directly from our database.
We have a small number of books from 1890 to the present, that complement our holdings. These are located in our Reference Library.
Use these books to find local history publications, biographical data, information about family-related activities, and more.
Some general suggestions are:
- Early Vancouver (FC 3847.49 M37 E2 1932)
- A seven-volume account of Major Matthews' conversations with early residents.
- Early Vancouver is also available online.
- 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)
- Major Matthews' notes on people born in Vancouver from 1857 - 1889
- Street Names of Vancouver by Elizabeth Walker (FC 3847.67 W34 1999)