These are records produced by the local civic government that have long-term legal, administrative, and historical value. More than 2,900 linear metres of records date from Vancouver's incorporation in 1886.
City Government publications are reports and notices published by various City departments. The Archives has more than 6,000 items dating from the 1900s to the present day.
The Archives actively acquires records documenting the social, political, economic, cultural, and community life of Vancouver from non-government sources.
A fascinating history has been carefully preserved by acquiring personal papers from individuals and organizations who have generated or collected materials of significant bearing on the history of Vancouver. The donors include:
The Archives has more than 7.2 million images from private-sector and public-sector records. These photographs portray a wide range of subjects from Vancouver's history and culture from the 1860s to the present. They bring to life the social, cultural, and economic realities of the city's past, as well as the everyday activities of generations of Vancouver's citizens.
Our holdings include over 6,000 maps, dating from the late 1700s to the present day. The maps, most of which are of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, come from a variety of sources, both public and private. They are indexed by place, subject and date and are on microfiche for easy access.
We hold thousands of architectural plans from local companies and individuals dating from ca. 1910 to the 1960s.
Fire insurance plans
We hold fire insurance plans of Vancouver from 1885 to the 1960s. A few of the plans also depict other areas of the Lower Mainland. These also are on microfiche for easy access.
Our collection of ship's plans consists of over 1000 plans of commercial and private vessels who sailed local waters from the late 1700s to 1980. The plans are indexed by name of vessel, ship's architect, ship builder, company and date. These also on are microfiche for easy access.
The Archives has a collection of over 2,500 books on British Columbia and Vancouver history, dating from the late 18th century.
These books are available for use in the Archives Reading Room only.
Special digital projects
Major Matthews' Early Vancouver
Written between 1931 and 1956, the seven-volume Early Vancouver series, documenting Vancouver’s early history, was available only in hard copy in the Archives’ Reading Room. A fully searchable 2011 online edition is now available.
This published catalogue features detailed illustrations of all goods on its 1,400+ pages, including machinery, farm equipment, ship chandlery, house and kitchen furnishings, sporting goods, paint, lumbering, and hardware.
Our exhibitions are Vancouver centric and designed to make the viewer think not just about the objects, but their greater context. We've played host to two Venice Biennale in Architecture projects. We've even gone so far as to hire a Curator of Contemporary Issues. We are a bold, contemporary museum, and we can't wait for you to visit.